My blogging friend Smilingldsgirl has tagged me to do the District Tag exercise where you select a book or film based on a main aspect of the twelve Districts in the Hunger Games universe. And like her, I’m going to pick both books and films!
District 1 – Luxury: Pick a book/film with lots of opulence
Book: Pompeii by Robert Harris
Set in the days leading up to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, this book goes into plenty of detail about how the richer citizens of Pompeii live. One memorable scene has a rich man hosting a dinner party with so many extravagant courses that even his equally indulgent friends are close to vomiting before dessert has even been served.
The first class accommodations, and the effort that these passengers put into looking good at dinner each evening, are nothing if not opulent.
District 2 – Masonry/Weaponry: Pick a book/film with a great war or conflict
Book: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
This book is set during World War 2, primarily on the Greek island of Kefalonia before, during and after its occupation by Italian forces. We do also get some descriptions of direct fighting happening elsewhere, and it’s not pretty.
Film: Saving Private Ryan
World War 2 again, this time in France just after the Allied invasion – a very brutal and powerful film.
District 3 – Technology: Pick a book/film with a technological twist
Book: Timeline by Michael Crichton
This sci-fi thriller centres around the discovery of time travel – except that it isn’t really time travel. The story uses the concept of the multiverse, with infinite universes existing simultaneously; when the characters travel back to medieval France, what they are actually doing is travelling to a different universe whose timeline is several hundred years behind ours.
Film: The Terminator
In a post-apocalyptic future where intelligent machines have all but wiped out the human race, infiltration units known as Terminators are used to attack the remaining human resistance. Machines designed to look human have been used many times in media, but the Terminator is made to be especially realistic: it is covered in artificially-grown living tissue, and even bleeds when injured. Whereas most cyborgs are living creatures with mechanical bits stuck on, the Terminator is a machine with living bits stuck on.
District 4 – Fishing: Pick a water-based book/film
Book: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Set in the 1910s, this story begins with a lifeboat crammed full of people who have just survived the sinking of an ocean liner. They are left adrift at sea for weeks, which naturally leads to bitter conflict and difficult decisions, as it simply isn’t possible for all of them to survive. An excellent survival story.
Film: The Perfect Storm
Not just a water-based film, but one that’s actually about fishing – based on the true story of the swordfishing boat Andrea Gail, which was caught in a massive storm in the north Atlantic in 1991.
District 5 – Electricity: Pick a powerful book/film
Book: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
What really needs to be said? It’s the diary of a teenage Jewish girl trying to survive in one of the worst times and places in history – very sad, particularly when you know what eventually happens.
Film: My Name Is Khan
This Indian film follows Rizwan Khan, a Muslim with Asperger’s Syndrome, who must deal with the social problems caused by both his disability and his religious background, particularly in the wake of post-9/11 prejudice. I saw this film in the cinema and it made me far more emotional than most films do.
District 6 – Transportation: Pick a book/film that takes place in many locations
Book: A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin
From the cold of Winterfell to the towering Eyrie, from the crowds of King’s Landing to the bleakness of the Wall, from Pentos to the wide Dothraki Sea – George R R Martin put a lot of effort into making his fictional world, and he’s damn well going to show you as much as he can.
This film features scenes in Japan, Paris, Mombasa, the USA – and that’s just the scenes in real life; who knows where all the dream sequences are supposed to be?
District 7 – Lumber: Pick a book/film with manual labour
Book: Death on the Ice by Robert Ryan
This is a fictionalised retelling of Captain Scott’s British expedition to Antarctica in 1910-13. Manual labour definitely comes into play in the latter stages, as Scott and his men are forced to pull their sledges to and from the South Pole themselves; a job that’s back-breaking under the best conditions soon becomes agonising as the frostbite sets in.
Film: The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank prisoners have to perform some manual labour at times, and it features at some key points; for example, it is while the prisoners are tarring the roof of a prison building that Andy Dufresne reveals his banking skills to the guards, which subsequently drives much of the rest of the story.
District 8 – Textiles: Pick a book/film with amazing clothes
Book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
The wizards of JK Rowling’s universe have always had their own unique fashion sense, with colourful robes and strange combinations of Muggle garments. The major gatherings at the Quidditch World Cup and Triwizard Tournament Yule Ball, however, allow Rowling to get especially detailed and extravagant with the clothing.
Film: Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Just being set in the Victorian era allows this film to get interesting with its costume choices, but it goes even further. Dracula’s clothing, and some of the dresses worn by the female characters, add very effectively to how bizarre and creepy everything is.
District 9 – Grain: Pick a book/film where food is hard to come by
Book: The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel
Living in the Ice Age, the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens of this story must forage to get any food at all – and risk life and limb if they want any meat for dinner.
Film: The Land Before Time
Also a story set in prehistoric times: it begins as a shortage of leaves forces dinosaurs to migrate in search of the bountiful Great Valley. As we follow the main characters throughout, just where their next meal is coming from is a constant concern.
District 10 – Livestock: Pick a book/film with an animal in it
Book: Watership Down by Richard Adams
The heroes of this story are a clan of rabbits, searching for a new home after humans come to destroy their old one. It’s a great story, with the rabbits’ culture and perspective on the world being particularly well-constructed.
Film: March of the Penguins
A documentary film comprising entirely of Emperor penguins and the soothing narration of Morgan Freeman.
District 11 – Agriculture: Pick a book/film where a character comes to a harsh, gritty reality
Book: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Edmond Dantes has got it all, with a stable job and a wonderful fiancee – until a plot by a few resentful characters sends him to an island prison for more than a decade. This book is a particularly good example as not only does Edmond come to a harsh, gritty reality, but he spends much of the story trying to do the same to the people who wronged him.
Film: Total Recall
Doug Quaid, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a pretty nice life in his futuristic world – until a visit to a false-memory establishment goes horribly wrong, and he suddenly finds that his whole life is an artificially constructed lie; this leads to Quaid going undercover to help the mutants of Mars, with seemingly everyone trying to kill him. Admittedly, the “reality” part of this one is questionable as it’s left ambiguous as to whether this is all real or just happening in Quaid’s mind – though personally, I reckon it’s the former.
District 12 – Mining: Pick a dark and sinister book/film
Book: It by Stephen King
A small town in Maine is haunted by a nightmarish creature that preys on children, taking the form of a clown and other horrifying monsters, and killing its victims with remorseless brutality. So…yeah, pretty dark and sinister.
Film: The Shining
And suitably enough, a film based on another Stephen King book! In an isolated hotel where even the audience can’t tell what’s real and what’s not, the main character Jack Torrance slowly descends into violent insanity – and just to make sure this film reaches the top of the ‘sinister’ meter, he’s played by Jack Nicholson.
District 13 – The Forgotten District: Pick a book/film that’s “underground” that not many people know about
Book: Folk’d by Laurence Donaghy
This urban fantasy story is actually the first in a trilogy – I haven’t gotten round to the last two yet, but I will eventually as the first one is brilliant. It has an intriguing plot as the main character witnesses strange events around him, culminating in the disappearance of his girlfriend and child; it incorporates elements of Irish folklore very well; and it’s very funny too.
Film: Batman: Under the Red Hood
This animated film is probably fairly well-known among comic book nerds, but as far as the general public goes, it’s not as well appreciated as it deserves to be. It’s at least as good as Batman Begins and not far behind The Dark Knight, with a brilliant story, thrilling action, and excellent voice acting from a cast including Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles and John DiMaggio. It features some fascinating character exploration, and even manages to incorporate a number of villains without becoming too convoluted.