The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Monday, March 26, 2012 - 7A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, March 26, 2012 - 7A
Cirque molds to
'Hunger Games' triumphs
Sts no secret that many
forms of fine art are strug-
gling to stay relevant in the
Attendees of traditional bal-
night out to
ing off a
will soon be CASERTA
its dusty box
in favor of more modern accesso-
ries. Directors fight to draw new
crowds as the advent of televi-
sion and film make the exclu-
sivity of theater performances
an inconvenience of the past.
Most musicals older than "Les
Misdrables" feel as if they've
been hermetically sealed in a
time we can no longer relate to.
As people are drawn away
from the artistic expressions
that captured the imaginations
of earlier decades and centuries,
a critical question must be asked:
Do the fine arts have the ability
to evolve alongside the audi-
ences that enjoy them? Or is the
art community forever set in its
Believe it or not, the answer
comes in the form of a little
Canadian entertainment com-
pany called Cirque du Soleil.
Cirque du Soleil, French for
"circus of the sun," is a collection
of touring and stationary shows
that are part circus, part opera
and part narrative-in-motion.
The company has been perform-
ing for just 28 years - infantile
when compared to ballet's
400-year-old pedigree - but
something about its artistic for-
mula has clicked with viewers.
What else would have already
drawn more than 100 mil-
lion people worldwide to their
While the more than 5,000
members of this troupe may
call themselves a circus, their
performances prove that the
term is woefully inadequate in
describing the vortex of color,
sound and motion that charac-
terizes their work. Actors are
required to do much more than
run through a series of spandex-
covered acrobatic acts - each
show is knit together by an over-
arching narrative or abstract
allegory that is chosen specifi-
cally because of its universality
and culture-bridging familiarity.
In this way, entire stories are
woven without the aid of spoken
language (their self-composed
music almost always utilizes
made-up words) using themes
that connect to audiences on
each of the six continents where
the company performs. The
passing of time, growing up, fall-
ing in love, dreams and reality,
the circle of life - each of these
themes have been infused into a
stream of pantomimed emotion
W put to music.
These wonders of the human
imagination are then ingeniously
paired with the wonders of the
human form. Feats of strength
and power are synthesized into
graceful acts of expression,
allowing actors to become living,
breathing, bending and flying
works of performance art - in
the truest sense of the phrase.
This synthesis is only one
facet of the proof that fine art
is a genre surprisingly capable
of change - the venues used by
Cirque du Soleil are technologi-
cal and visual marvels in their
own rights. The company has
mastered the art of performing
in integrated 3-D spaces that
project outward into their audi-
ences even as they draw viewers
into the action. Stages of every
shape and size spin, unfold, and
catch fire as the shows burst
out of the proscenium and take
advantage of everything from
tanks of water to wires in the air.
fine arts and
Cirque du Soleil has also
bridged yet another gap that the-
ater has yet to embrace - their
performances have consistently
proven to be some of the best
examples of art translated onto
film. More than 10 video-record-
ed versions of various shows
have been produced, garnering
three Gemini Awards and four
Primetime Emmy Awards. With
masterful editing and a keen
sense of performance space, the
movie versions of the shows are
the next best thingto actually
sitting beneath the human com-
ets suspended above you.
Artistically, Cirque du Soleil
tackles metaphors that can't
be put into words, creating
a vibrant consciousness that
builds on established forms
without being weighed down by
an unspoken dedication to them.
There's something electrifying
about watching a dying firebird
proudly preen its scraggly feath-
ers in between staggering leaps
to which the traditional self-
aware poise of a ballerina doesn't
do justice. Limited only by the
imaginations of their artistic
directors, shows become more
like living works of art than the-
Cirque du Soleil gives hope to
the future of art that strives to
evolve beyond the standard visu-
al, audible and theatrical arts
triad that has dominated for so
long. By embodying the abstract
without forgetting where it
comes from, the company has
managed to enchant children of
all ages by dragging out our ids
and giving them a physical form.
With 21 different productions
currently performing around the
world, it seems as though Cirque
du Soleil has found a niche with-
in all of us.
Caserta is running away
to join the circus. To stop her,
of popular novel
beats the odds
By ADITI MISHRA
Daily Arts Writer
Now hold on just a second.
Can it be possible? Can a film
based on a bestselling young
adult saga, with
a fan base ****
similar to that The Hunger
of the "Twi- Games
(a moment's At Quality16
pause to shud- and Rave
der at the mem-
ory...), hit all Lionsgate
the right notes?
Yes, yes it can! "The Hunger
Games," with its flawless cast,
perfectly paced action and dra-
matic intensity, is everything
we've been waiting for and more.
Breathe easy, Suzanne Collins
- perhaps Hollywood's finally
learning how not to mess up a
beloved piece of fiction.
Though, the movie's victory
has to be due in part to Collins's
contribution to the screenplay.
Director Gary Ross's ("Seabis-
cuit") decision to hire Collins,
writer of the original trilogy,
yields a film that's true to its lit-
erary counterpart even after
certain scenes from the book are
cut and altered. If anything, it
ensures that the books' multitude
of fans get what they pay for - a
movie that's loyal to the material
it's inspired by.
To most, the story is familiar.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Law-
rence,"Winter's Bone") lives with
her mother and younger sister
Prim (newcomer Willow Shields)
in an exhausted part of District
12 called the Seam. As happens
annually, all children between
Tributessss ... make it work.
the ages of 12 and 18 from the
12 districts have to submit their
names for the Hunger Games - a
competition in which 24 children
battle to the death, used by the
Capitol to maintain totalitarian
control. When her 12-year-old
sister is picked to compete, Kat-
niss volunteers in Prim's place.
When it comes to the Capitol,
Ross lets his imagination fly. It's
precisely as over-the-top, color-
ful and extravagant as readers
undoubtedly expected. But just
as Katniss and fellow District 12
tribute Peeta (Josh Hutcherson,
"The Kids Are All Right") are
pawns in the Capitol's games, the
Capitol is a pawn in Ross's game.
It's a means for him to break the
emotional intensity of the games
themselves, to occasionally hide
the fact that under the love tri-
angle most teenagers in the audi-
ence have come to see, this film
is actually about survival, death,
desperation and unrestrained
Execs at Lionsgate must have
really pushed hard for the film's
PG-13 rating. While not as Tar-
antino-esque as most would have
liked, "The Hunger Games" stays
true to the blood and gore of the
first book. Herein lies the film's
greatest strength - it's all about
raw emotion. There are no obtru-
sive, overwhelming soundtracks
that detract from the emotional
trauma of the lead actors at the
death of their friends.
This organic approach allows
the actors to shine in their roles.
Hutcherson is believably love-
stricken and embattled as the
guy who knows he can't win but
wants to make sure the girl he
loves does. Woody Harrelson, as
the tributes' mentor Haymitch,
is equally perfect as a drunk
mess trying to get his act togeth-
er. Of course, no one can forget
the adorably naive Effie Trin-
ket (Elizabeth Banks, TV's "30
Rock"). Her comedic one-liners
are as invaluable as Dnonald
Sutherland's ("Horrible Bosses")
cold stares as President Snow.
But while the games have two
winners, the film only has one.
Lawrence is a powerhouse of
talent. She churns out arrogant,
impatient, sweet, sexy, trauma-
tized and desperate faster than
the speed of one of Katniss's
There's no other way of saying
it - this film is a cornucopia of
surprises. Instead of capitalizing
on its love triangle, it sticks to its
roots and captures the frustra-
tion of an oppressed society that's
just trying to survive. More than
anything, it's a beautiful ode to
'hunger' and 'passion' - the hun-
ger that drives people physically
and emotionally, the passion that
causes people to act against their
better judgement. As such, "The
Hunger Games" definitely leaves
you craving more.
So longbrooding, poutingvam-
pires - this is how a young-adult
adaptation is done.
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