From time to time, I get sucked into thinking about the pragmatics of fictional worlds. By that I mean all the mundane details of how people lead their everyday lives, starting from the very basic human (or creature) needs like food, clothing, waste management, and social interaction. Not just who takes care of, say, the laundry and when, but where do they go to do it, how do they get there, what kinds of implements are they expected to bring in themselves and what is shared, how long does it take, what physical motions do they go through, is it a solo activity or a joint effort, and the like.
For me as a visual person, often thinking about everyday activities and movement through spaces tumbles into thinking about what exactly do these various spaces look like. It’s a way to add depth and realism into a story – we are physical beings who love tactile experiences and accumulate all sorts of personal possessions, and if a fictional world ignores that, it makes that world fall flat for me. (Hello, Star Trek!)
The Hunger Games is one of the current ones in my mind because of the approaching Mockingjay – Part 2 premiere and because of an article on Colossal I saw about a World War II era bomb shelter in London that has been turned into an underground farm.
The company running the operation, Growing Underground, produces leafy greens like watercress, basil, coriander, and radish in hydroponic beds lit by LED lamps.
In the The Hunger Games world, the population of District 13 lives in underground bunkers; the above-ground structures were destroyed by the Capitol. In the Mockingjay novel, Collins mentions various spaces like the armory, the laundry, labs, testing ranges, and farms in passing. She describes these spaces mostly just in very generic terms; e.g., the color of the living compartments is white, and we hear of furniture like dressers and conference tables with individual screens, but that’s about the extent of the detail.
Scenes in the movie Mockingjay – Part 1 show the special weapons lab with a shooting range, the hangar, the bunker, and some hospital and apartment rooms, among others, but I don’t think we’ve seen any underground farms of any kind, nor the poultry farm, for example, that was destroyed in the book version of the bombing of 13 by the Capitol.
The Growing Underground photos of their growing beds fit quite well with Collins’s carefully frugal description and the established Hunger Games visual style. So, in my headcanon, even if we haven’t seen them on screen, District 13’s underground hydroponics now look very much like those of Growing Underground.
Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.