It’s Morphling Time

Welcome back to the world of “Things that probably won’t make it into the Catching Fire movie but hey, here’s hoping!”

Excuse us while we cry ALL THE TEARS

Excuse us while we cry ALL THE TEARS

Today, we’re talking about two minor characters who will likely be featured for a minute, if at all, but have such a poignant background that were really want them to be portrayed correctly. They represent a very recognizable parallel to our society and relate to many of us in a surprisingly personal way.

That’s right: The Morphlings

Growing up, my uncle was a heroin addict who constantly struggled to get clean. He also happened to live with my grandmother in the house just behind mine, so I saw him often. As a child, you understand that something isn’t quite right, but you don’t analyze it. He adored my sister and I as kids, probably because we didn’t understand anything enough to judge him, and it was a shock when I finally did catch on in my pre-teen years. I’d be told to “Just Say No To Drugs” about a thousand times by that point, but drugs weren’t really out there, people didn’t really do them, and no one had to over-think it because it wasn’t part of that immediate universe you maintain as a child… until IT WAS.

In many ways, that was Katniss’ concept of the morphlings. She knew about the drug and the addiction, but she had never been exposed to it on a close, personal level. At first, Katniss does her judging. She knows that the horror of the game led them to this, but that doesn’t mean she has to feel comfortable around them. She sees it as something they did to themselves. She realizes that they’re not much use to her in the Quarter Quell and thus makes no effort to examine them as people. (Surprisingly, at the end of Mockingjay, Katniss becomes dependent on morphling pills and has to be weaned off them before being released from The Capitol. She even hoards them and considers overdosing when things look bleak.)

Too pretty?

Too pretty?

Everything changes when the female morphling saves Peeta’s life and Katniss realizes that despite a major character flaw, these tributes are no different than any other. They’ve just let their past trauma consume them in a different way. It’s refreshing in a world where all people who have ever had problems with addiction are portrayed as crazed lunatics out to hurt whoever they can get their hands on.

When the headshots of the District 6 morphling tributes were released, we worried. They’re models. Thin models with angular features which might make it easier for a makeup team to make them look drugged-out and shaky, but still models. We think Justin Hix is pretty damn attractive and sadly, this is a problem, because the physical damage drug addiction takes on a person should be evident if this plot point is included. Hair and makeup gurus, don’t fail us now!

The morphlings work as a poignant plot point with surprisingly little required. All they have to do is be seen up close briefly as one of the main characters explains their addiction and how it was caused by The Hunger Games. That’s heartbreak right there. Hopefully, we may actually see Megan Hayes up close and personal as her character falls victim monkey mutts, but we’re guessing they won’t put precious time aside for that.

Let’s Hope They Put Precious Time Aside For SOME Of It!
The Girl With The Pearl

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12 comments

  1. There was a time when I was concerned that the morphling storyline might be cut from CF because of the PG-13 rating, and much of that was based on how they toned down Haymitch’s drinking a LOT in THG. However, considering the comments Woody has made about F-Law having a much different approach than Gary Ross, and having Woody research PTSD, makes me hope that F-Law will address the morphling addiction issue in some way. The fact that Megan Hayes herself referred to her character as a “morphling” in tweets, also makes me think this will NOT be left out of the movie.

    That being said, I still doubt the death scene of the “female morphling” will make it in, because Megan Hayes DOES look like a model, and I think it might be too confusing for the movie-only audience to show Peeta comforting her as she lies dying. As I mentioned in my recent guest post, we already have the widespread fanon assumptions that Cato/Clove and Haymitch/Maysilee must have had something romantic going based on both boys mourning or comforting the girls as they lie dying.

    I also hope the theme of Katniss almost falling into substance abuse herself (both the morphling in MJ, and her drinking with Haymitch in CF) makes it into the movies, because I think the fact that she *does* overcome that, unlike the morphlings, Haymitch, and perhaps Johanna, or even Mrs. Undersee (despite the fact that they both lost their sisters), shows that she did attain a measure of recovery despite all the horrors she witnessed both in the Games and war.

    Also, RL soldiers and veterans do have a much higher occurence of substance abuse than the general population, and most of this is in the form of addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs (which morphling falls into, as it is used as a painkiller, unlike heroin, which is not used in medical treatment). I have a feeling that SC, with her military family background, observed this with her own eyes as well.

  2. Justin Hix is a model. Megan Hayes is an actress – and a model, and a writer, and a voiceover actress, apparently, according to her website. Her resume is pretty long with lots of roles in theatre and in film & TV (small roles, probably, but still) and her website has a quote from an Atlanta newspaper describing her as “one of Atlanta’s best young actresses”. http://www.meganhayes.net/Welcome.html

    I was a bit upset about the morphling actors being some 30 years younger than their characters in the book/ But I’m not worried that they will cut the morphling story since {SPOILER – don’t read if you don’t want to know about the leaked information from the set)

    they filmed the District 6 reaping, which was not even described in the book. It seems like a pointless thing to do if they aren’t going to focus on morphlings after that at all.

    1. I wasn’t trying to imply she was only a model to discount her other titles. I just pointed out the model part because there are certain qualifications for that job– mainly being hella wicked mad hot :p

      They did film the District 6 reaping, but they could have filmed reaping from several other districts as well. Even at that, the footage could be used in a recap montage or something of that nature, so you never know!

      1. Not really… Generally, mmodels don’t look so great (IMO at least), the requirement often seems to be just that they must be really thin (in many cases, to thin to look “mad hot” for me , at least).

        Anyway, attractiveness is a subjective thing (I don’t find Justin Hix as attractive as many fans apparently do), but with those two, it’s obvious that the casting requirement for the morphling actors was “very thin, naturally pale people” rather than “conventionally attractive (aka mad hot) people” (as they were probably for Gloss and Cashmere).

    2. Re the filming of the D6 reaping, I think while it is suggestive, it doesn’t necessarily mean the morphlings will be a “focus” of the movie. After all, Dayo spoke about filming his own reaping scene, which didn’t make it into the THG film at all, and Dayo’s role was actually reduced compared to the canon — Katniss doesn’t notice Thresh NOT allying with the Careers as in the book, (which would have been easy to include as a brief scene in which Cato or another Career tries to chat him up and is rebuffed), and the scene in which he spares her life is very short compared to the book version.

      I also wonder what the significance will be of the casting call for the “Idiom” for very thin actors with yellow skin. Was this the casting call only looking for the “morphling” tributes themselves? Or were they looking for extras who had the morphling look? Because if they do, they may be trying to indicate either that “morphling addiction is a widespread problem in D6” OR (though I think it less likely) “the morphling look is caused by a genetic disorder common in D6, that has nothing to do with substance use”. Or at least, this might be something that non-book moviegoers might assume.

      As for the PG-13 rating in relation to substance use, the MPAA ratings are often criticized for being vague and subjective (such as “The King’s Speech” being R-rated based pretty much on a grand total of TWO short scenes that included profanity), but from my understanding, talking about substance use is allowed, and showing it for brief periods is as well, but I’ve never seen or heard of a PG-13 movie showing people shooting up any drugs (though I have seen PG-13 movies with people drinking and smoking various substances). I’m sure “morphling” is based on the actual RL drug morphine, which has legitimate uses as a pain-killer, and which can be injected as well as consumed as pills (the pills, not the injected form, are what Katniss hoards in MJ).

      So. I can see the morphlings being depicted as abusing the pill form of morphling, but not injecting it like heroin addicts would. Or, for their condition to be discussed by other characters, but their not being seen actually consuming morphling in any form. Too bad Madge was cut, because her bringing the morphling to Gale did provide SC with a neat way to introduce the drug to the audience. And I did like the whole idea that the socially prestigious Mayor’s wife, Mrs. Undersee was likely a morphling addict herself, and that Gale’s assumption that Madge was unaffected by the reapings/Games due to her higher socioeconomic status, turns out to be so off the mark.

      1. Well, most scenes and storylines were shorter in the movie than in the book (including such important things as Rue/Katniss relationship and Katniss/Peeta relationship). It’s the nature of the beast. But Thresh still had a significant role in the movie as far as Tributes not named Katniss or Peeta go. And District 11 reaping wouldn’t involve just Thresh, but Rue, whose role was certainly very important.

        The morphlings would, similar to Thresh, have a couple of brief scenes, with one of them (the one with the female morphling’s death) being important, but not that long (if it’s in the movie, I doubt we’d hear Peeta’s entire speech about colors). Bottom line, Thresh was not “cut” from the movie, and Rue was certainly important; I don’t believe that Ross filmed the reaping in Districts 9 and 10, or that F. Lawrence did, for that matter. Whether or not the D6 reaping scene makes it into the final cut of the movie – if the morphlings were to play no role except being seen in the background, it seems like a waste of time (precious time, considering the time constrains they had at the time to film CF) to film their reaping. The book didn’t even describe any of the reapings other than the “highlights” from 2, 4, 8 and 12. I don’t see the movie showing a montage of reapings from every single district, even though nothing of note happens in most of them and many of the reaped Victors remain nameless and get killed quickly.

  3. While I would enjoy seeing the morphling scenes portrayed in entirety in movie, I don’t think they are critical to the story arc. Using Haymitch’s struggle with alcohol as it relates to his response to trauma can serve as a way to bring up this topic without including every person in THG that responded to pain with addiction.

    I like the point made that drugs weren’t real or personal to Katniss until they WERE. And that Katniss overcomes her own addiction/ desire to numb herself.

  4. Uhm.. I don’t find their looks to be that great that they couldn’t be made into drug addicts by Ve. I don’t think its looks, but more of a type of look a person has. Like if Stephanie Shlund or Meta Golding were cast as the Morphling addict, then we would have a proble.lol.

  5. As much as I’m STILL worried that the morphling scene is going to be cut, I’m sure they’re both great actors/actresses. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Megan Hayes, she was my drama teacher for summer camp last year. She taught me quite a lot, and I definitely trust both lionsgate, Francis Lawrence, and the actors/actresses to do something amazing with that scene, even if something’s cut.

  6. TTB: You make pretty good arguments about the significance of the D6 reaping scene, especially your point that it was filmed during the first round of filming when there was limited time. I can see the D6 morphling’s death actually being included, but the whole touchy-feely scene with Peeta being cut; maybe they’ll have the monkeys drag her body away into the bushes or something.

    That would be similar to how Clove’s death scene was included in the THG movie, but the scene with Cato finding her dying and begging her to “stay with me” was cut, and with similar reasons (to avoid distracting or confusing viewers with a scene that could be easily misinterpreted as romantic).

    Kalina: That is so cool that Megan Hayes was your drama teacher! I hope for your sake as well, that she will get as least as much screen time as Movie!Thresh did!

  7. I think you guys underestimate how much of a difference makeup can make. Take a relatively thin person, give their skin a yellow tinge, add some dark circles under the eyes, some dark patches below their cheekbones, and you’ve got a very sick and gaunt looking person. How do you think they shoot holocaust movies?

    However, I am worried the film might not go far enough and the morphlings will end up looking too healthy and “together”. I really hope they don’t pull their punches in this regard – the same goes with other depressing/gritty/suggestive material. I realise they have to tone some stuff down but I don’t want the whole story watered down in order to sell tickets to kids that aren’t really old enough to appreciate the themes anyway. I want them to push that PG13 rating and the dark tone as far as they reasonably can.

  8. [“That being said, I still doubt the death scene of the “female morphling” will make it in, because Megan Hayes DOES look like a model, and I think it might be too confusing for the movie-only audience to show Peeta comforting her as she lies dying.”]

    The scene made it in the movie, including Peeta’s lines about colors. It’s one of the movie’s best moments.

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