so i just watched catching fire and i have a lot of feelings about gale that need to be written down. for me, one of the most powerful scenes of the film was the scene where they showed gale back in district 12, watching peeta and katniss at the capitol while he washes his dirty hands.
what was really powerful was the stark contrast between the colors of the capitol and the blandness, the grey of district 12. and that’s what gale is: he is district 12 personified. gale with dirt on his hands and grime on his face, gale who’s put his name in for reaping 42 times just to feed his family, gale who works in the mines and hunts for food. gale is a soldier, has been a solider long before the rebellion, before there was an actual war. he’s a solider because he fights for survival, for his people, for his district. he’s not perfect by any means, he’s angry, almost explosively so, he knows exactly where to aim a gun so that it hurts and kills, he is ruthless and harsh and abrasive. but what he also is is painfully selfless. when katniss asks him to run away with her, he refuses not because he doesn’t want to, but because he has people depending on him, because he’s come to understand that in the grand scheme of things, ensuring the survival of everyone else takes precedence over his own. and that’s why i was so (pleasantly) surprised by the way the movie managed to understand his character in the way the books don’t: the back and forth shots between the colors of the capitol and the ashes of the districts, the way the people singing and dancing at the capitol is juxtaposed with gale washing away dirt after a day of hard manual labor to feed his family.
the main difference between book!gale and movie!gale is that the integrity, the potential of gale’s character in the books is severely diminished by characterizing him as one third of a so-called “triangle”. from the moment we’re introduced to katniss and peeta: the two tributes from district 12, we know they’re going to be endgame one way or another, and in that moment, gale is sidelined, his importance diminished. but here’s the thing: just as katniss doesn’t need gale or peeta to come into her own, neither does gale. gale isn’t just a guy in (unrequited) love with katniss, he’s more than that. and he deserved to be more than that. he doesn’t have time to sit around and think of his long-lost love or how katniss might be falling in love with someone else, he has a family to feed, he has people who look up to him, he has to survive. katniss might be the face of the rebellion, she might be the mockingjay but no war can be fought without soldiers who voluntarily lay down their lives. because at it’s core, the hunger games isn’t about the star crossed lovers of district 12, it’s about the stark cruelty, the injustice of human condition. it’s about the contrast between poverty and obscene luxury, it’s about the loss of humanity that comes with generations of oppression, the harsh, horrific acceptance of a world where the lives of children are trivialized for sport. and in this world, gale hawthorne is a soldier who recognizes the strength in brute power, in numbers, in loyalty, and he fights. he does not inspire, he endures. his life doesn’t make for a beautiful story to tell, he is simply one of the masses, yet another soldier who will fall down for the war. he was born in ashes and that’s where he will die.
"These books are so powerful, and the fan base is so passionate, that obviously every fan had read the books and had an idea in their imagination of what Finnick should look like. I think maybe three people in the entire world thought it should be me."