By Charlotte Tai:
With a film franchise that took the world by storm, The Hunger Games Exhibition encapsulates the heart of Suzanne Collins’ novels, and acts as a nice treat for fans now that the series’ film adaptations are complete.
Everybody is enthralled by a good story, and it is events like these in popular culture that enlighten us about the communities’ storytelling creates.
The story of Katniss is a tale of sacrifice, revolution, a critique on violence, media, oppressive hierarchical systems, and perhaps even a tale of how dire situations such as war and struggle, can mark the end of a youth’s innocence.
The exhibition displays costumes, props, set replicas and the like from the films, which are imbued with symbolism and visual markers of the narrative’s deeper themes.
I attended the exhibition at the new International Convention Centre Sydney venue on a Thursday night with my family. It was a great venue that housed the exhibition well and attendees would love to take a photo by the large golden Mockingjay statue by the entry.
Interestingly, I felt that one of the best things about the event was that you could take as many photos as you want without any restrictions! I’ve attended a number of movie-related exhibitions in the past that banned everyone from doing this, so it came as a pleasant surprise.
Thursday night was hardly crowded, apart from the few other couples and families that I spotted. Of course, however, attending on weekends and during the day would be much busier, so it’s something to bear in mind when choosing when to go.
As fans walk through the exhibition the various segments are mapped out in a pretty nice flow. On entering we are greeted with set builds representing District 12, which is the start of our journey. Then a little afterwards there’s the train car set and the interview set of Capitol TV and so on.
It was the intricate visual details that struck me the most. When it comes to film adaptations of novels some readers might complain about how it’s not how they visualised the characters or settings, and yes, sometimes the scenes get cut short or the plot changes a little too. However, the exhibition clearly shows a glimpse into how much in-depth thinking was put into bringing Collins’ world to life.
I must admit, my favourite thing was seeing the costumes as well as the props. It’s these things that subtly indicate who the characters really are. Being able to see it all up close was really something, from Katniss’ various iconic dresses, (like the wedding dress and Mockingjay dress), her various battle gear, to the deadly weapons used by the tributes. Of course, Effie’s costumes were always a delight to watch, in their eccentric flamboyance.
There were also various holographic elements too, such as the interactive map of Panem highlighting the different districts and a pop up profile of the tributes connected to each of them.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to use the mobile app when attending the exhibition as I only found out about it afterwards, so I can’t comment on this part of the experience. However, I think it would’ve been pretty cool if there was a virtual reality game style segment, where fans can explore sights and interact with characters in a fast-paced, action sort of way as they walk in the shoes of being a tribute.
A group activities room would’ve been nice too in which people could re-enact scenarios with a host to curate this segment, like the reaping, in a real, in person way, and it’s another great way of making friends.
Although the souvenir photo that comes with entry is taken by a professional photographer, I felt it was a shame that we couldn’t hold cool replica weapons from the movies, as that would create a deeper sense of fan engagement, rather than simply smiling and standing with a green screen background.
The fan gallery segment that comes at the end before entering the souvenir shop might have been nicer if some photographic stills from the films and behind the scenes images were included in the mix.
Or even a small cinema screening area where fans could select scenes from the film and watch bonus video there as well. These are just suggested ways that I think could’ve created greater interactivity to the event.
Regardless, The Hunger Games Exhibition was worth seeing and I recommend any fan of the films, the books, or pop culture in general should go and see it. Take your family, take your partner, take your friends. It’s definitely something that will make a fun outing in the CBD with plenty to talk about and do.
Photos by Charlotte Tai