Coming up on almost two years of promoting The Hunger Games movies, Lionsgate has really gotten comfortable with the world of Suzanne Collins’ series: Nearly all of the studio’s promotional materials for Catching Fire have been incredibly, engagingly in-character.
A few weeks ago we glimpsed Katniss and Peeta’s Victory Tour poster/engagement announcement, in the style of a dystopian propaganda poster. But while Panem’s favorite couple visits their fellow tributes’ districts after the 74th Hunger Games, the Capitol citizens have been busy posing for formal portraits, likely at President Snow’s behest. And they don’t look at all happy about it.
Capitol Couture—which last year gave us our very first look at the outrageous fashion trends of Panem’s upper class—released the first Capitol Portrait on Monday. Fittingly, it’s Effie Trinket, but something looks... off.
Sure, she’s dressed fabulously, but she’s not vamping for the camera like we’d expect. Her gaze is carefully fixed on some point off in the distance; it clearly takes her a lot of effort to hold herself in place. You can tell she’d rather be anywhere—even District 12—than sitting for this portrait.
Revolution is brewing in Panem after Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark defied the rules of the Hunger Games—whispers of rebellion are rippling through the districts during the Victory Tour and are even snaking into the Capitol. So what’s the best way for President Snow to keep his subjects in line? By literally freezing them in time for an absurd, frivolous project so they can’t scheme out of his earshot.
You can see the same tension in Caesar Flickerman’s portrait, released via Fandango:
Of course, you have to love how Caesar’s outfit matches his chair, but it’s surprisingly subdued for him. He may be striking a jaunty pose, but his face says he’s being threatened at gunpoint to sit still.
It’s especially chilling to look at Cinna’s portrait because (spoiler) we know that Katniss helplessly watches him get beaten to unconsciousness and dragged away right as she’s dropped into the Arena. While Effie, Haymitch, and even Caesar are able to keep the rebellion going, Cinna gets sacrificed for the cause.
And the act of dissent that gets Cinna axed? Why, designing Katniss' wedding gown to play a little trick on Snow and the rest of the Capitol. When she shows off her dress during her pre-Games interviews, it transforms into a mockingjay.
MSN Movies debuted our third photo of the day (!), Katniss' gown pre-transformation:
It feels like all the portraits have been leading up to this one picture of Katniss in quiet dissent. There are a few important distinctions to note here, the biggest being that unlike everyone else in the Capitol portraits, Katniss is not sitting.
Not only that, but she is holding a white rose—the symbol for President Snow—pointed downwards while supporting herself on an empty chair. Those hungry for an idol will see Katniss as the beautiful virginal victor they want to see. And those hungry for rebellion will see Katniss, dressed as the mockingjay and staring directly at the viewer, advocating for Snow's overthrow.
The Capitol is releasing at least two new portraits a day (at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. EST) via its Instagram and various Hunger Games fansites. The latest hint is #EccentricandElectric—sounds like our man Beetee!
We’re hoping that by week’s end we’ll get to see some of the new tributes like Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and Johanna Mason (Jena Malone). Who do you think we’ll see next?
Natalie Zutter is a playwright, foodie, and pop culture blogger. Her writing has appeared on BlackBook, Ology, and Crushable, where she discusses celebrity culture alongside internet memes (or vice versa). Weekly you can find her calling in to the Hunger Games Fireside Chat podcast, reviewing new releases at Movie Mezzanine, and on Twitter.