I have an idea about the Hunger Games movies. It’s something I’ve toyed with a bit since reading the books as they came out – yes, for once, I was the one who had read all the books first and had to STFU to avoid spoiling people.

Mostly it’s on my mind because we just finally Mockingjay Part 1 last weekend, and I thought it was really good and quite faithful to the first half of the book. But it’s very much a middle movie, and I don’t think people are reading it as a “middle” movie, because it’s supposedly the first half of the conclusion (as evidenced by the name) and because it’s the first half of the third book. And I think that’s causing some some of the complaints about stretching the story.

But the more I think about the structure, the more I’m seeing the first book (and film) as almost a prequel to a primary arc which spanned two books. Yes, they’re connected, tightly so. But I’d argue the events of The Hunger Games sets up the the action of Catching Fire and Mockingjay, and that those two books (and three films) form an arc of their own – and that the first half of Mockingjay really is its own piece, thematically.

I mean, let’s face it, Catching Fire is kind of a restart. It’s kind of a restart storywise – not from worldbuilding standpoint, no, but a bit of a narrative restart nonetheless. You’ve just got the characters’ backstories already. It’s a chance to restart, in media res.

As other examples of this phenomenon, I offer Book One of Elfquest vs. The Grand Quest (books 2-4, which form one story), and also, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I’m thinking that seen in this light, dividing Mockingjay into two films makes a lot more sense. Giving the middle of a story like this time to develop and breathe is sound, rather than rushing in to the big climax; you’d like to be able to treat this separately. (See also the variety of parallels between Mockingjay Part 1 and The Empire Strikes Back, particularly with Peeta and Han, who is, let’s face it, still in Carbonite, even if they’ve got him moved back to rebel territory, and who will start being freed in Part 2…)

Part 2 will tell me whether or not I’m on crack. Part 1 was so much lower key than the previous two films, in so many ways. That can read as being less ambitious – or as a lot more tightly confined, which isn’t just thematically appropriate, but is arguably thematically necessary to the story.

So if the atmosphere and character of Part 2 changes sharply from Part 1, I’ll consider that a degree of confirmation. You can change tone sharply between films without it feeling forced; if they’d done all of Mockingjay as one film, the feel of one or the other half would’ve been sacrificed, and I think to the detriment of the overall story.

I just kind of wish they’d gone all the way and given them separate titles. I can see why not to, from a marketing standpoint – but from an artistic standpoint, I rather wish they’d had.

But, yes. That’s my theory. Thoughts?

ps: We’ve had a lot of people posting in the Maker of Things comments section! Add your own, or check out what people have been saying, there’s a surprising lot already.