A Capitol Commentary
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the opening ceremonies for the Fiftieth Hunger Games! As always, there is great excitement here in the Capitol as we await the arrival of the tributes, but this year, in honour of the second Quarter Quell, there will be double the usual number of competitors. Will this mean double the success of previous Games? Only time will tell. But just listen to that crowd! It seems the great and the good of the Capitol have turned out in force to welcome our forty-eight tributes. We should see the first of them any moment now . . .
And here they come! The chariots bearing the tributes from District 1 have just left the Remake Centre and are now making their way down the street towards the City Circle. District 1 produces all the luxury goods we enjoy here in the Capitol and their stylists always create the most spectacular costumes for their tributes. This year, the chosen theme is gemstones - the female tributes, Necklace and Aroma, are wearing black satin gowns which have been encrusted with hundreds of real diamonds. Both girls are also wearing diamond tiaras - look at how they sparkle when they catch the light! Absolutely stunning! And Plush and Facet, the two male tributes, look exceptionally handsome in their black suits which come complete with diamond-encrusted vests. And we have yet more diamonds in the form of the buttons on their jackets. Clearly, the stylists for District 1 have invested a great deal of time in these costumes - they certainly complement the natural beauty of the tributes. And Necklace, on the first chariot, has the bearing of a queen. Will she be the tribute to receive the victor's crown? I can certainly picture her wearing it.
The crowd are absolutely loving this! I think I can safely say that District 1 will be among the favourites again this year. Certainly, the other districts will find it hard to compete with diamonds, but let's see what emerges as we prepare to welcome the tributes from District 2.
And what a contrast to the diamond-encrusted costumes of District 1! The District 2 tributes are wearing costumes which have been designed to give the effect of polished marble - it's hard to believe those floor-length robes have not been carved out of stone. And, judging by the headdresses which all four tributes are wearing, District 2's stylists have chosen to model their costumes on classical column designs. Yes, the girl tributes, Camilla and Flavia, are depicting Ionic columns, while Aquila and Orion, the two boy tributes, are dressed as Corinthian columns. District 2 is, of course, the home of our nation's stone quarries, hence the marble effect on these costumes.
But they are also famous for producing something besides stone - tough tributes. The statistics speak for themselves. No tributes from District 2 have ever fallen in the bloodbath and, with very rare exceptions, they generally make it at least as far as the final eight. And over 90% of tributes from District 2 have gone into the Games as volunteers - that's more than any other district. Just look at those stern faces! All four of these tributes look like they're taking these Games very seriously indeed.
Please give a big Capitol welcome to the tributes from District 3! They are wearing silver unitards, with the addition of flared overskirts in the case of Ampere and Zara, the two female tributes. The unitards worn by the boy tributes, Carl and Solder, have long sleeves, but the girls' unitards are sleeveless. However, all four tributes are wearing cloaks fastened with buckles shaped like gear wheels, surely a nod to the technology which dominates District 3. And, as a finishing touch, their stylists have given them headsets similar to the ones you can buy in the shops. Of course, those are generally designed to plug into various electronic devices, but, if District 3 do well this year, we could be seeing an upsurge in headsets worn purely as fashion accessories.
And here come the tributes from District 4, the home of Panem's fishing fleets! Linda and Delphine, the female tributes, are wearing ocean blue bikini tops and matching sarongs, both of which have been decorated with tiny seed pearls. Both girls also wear necklaces and bracelets which have been made by threading shells and pearls together alternately. And the theme continues with the costumes worn by the male tributes, Triton and Jonas - here, we have swim shorts, also in ocean blue, and belts fastened with shell-shaped buckles. The boys are wearing necklaces similar to those worn by their partners, but their torsos have been left bare to show off their bronzed physique. These are certainly among the most beautiful tributes we've seen so far.
District 4 are the reigning Hunger Games champions. So everyone will surely be watching these tributes closely in the next few weeks, even though no district has won twice in a row since District 2 won both the Twentieth and the Twenty-first Games. Will District 4 become only the second district to achieve that honour? We can only watch and wait.
But we don't have to wait for the tributes from District 5, because here they come now! The girl tributes, Virginia and Miranda, are the youngest we've seen so far - just thirteen years old. They are wearing white jumpsuits trimmed with silver thread, as are their partners, Duncan and Andreas. And all four tributes are wearing headdresses that appear to be . . . Yes! These headdresses are modelled on turbine blades - not only that, they've been fitted with motors and the blades are spinning round as the chariots bearing the District 5 tributes move towards the City Circle. This is surely meant to represent the power which District 5 generates. Will this idea of incorporating moving parts into tribute costumes catch on in future years? Who knows? But let's hear it for Virginia and Duncan, Miranda and Andreas as they continue on their way!
And hot on their heels come the tributes from District 6! This district is Panem's transport hub - it is thanks to the efforts of its citizens that our tributes are able to be here tonight. The District 6 tributes themselves are wearing outfits made from a material which has been cleverly designed to look like rubber tyres. Mini dresses and knee-high boots for Perdita and Keren, the two girls, while the boy tributes, Diesel and Axle, are wearing pants and open-fronted vests. And all four tributes are sporting headdresses modelled on hubcaps - these are certainly the most bizarre costumes we've seen so far. Over the years, District 6 tributes have been dressed in things ranging from chauffeur's livery to car headlamps, but I think I can safely say I've never seen them dressed as tyres.
Next we have the tributes from District 7, the home of our nation's lumber industry! They almost always appear as trees and these tributes are no exception. But, no doubt taking advantage of having four tributes to work with, the stylists for District 7 have added a twist this year. All the tributes are wearing brown unitards, but each of their headdresses has been designed to show how a tree's appearance changes throughout the year. So, on the first District 7 chariot, we have Lilian, showing leaves budding into life in the spring, and Birch, depicting a tree in summer with his leafy headdress. Behind them we have Artemis, wearing the reds and oranges of fall, and Derek, displaying the bare branches of winter. A brilliant twist on an old theme! District 7, everybody!
Of course, none of these costumes would be possible without the textile factories found in District 8 - and here come their tributes! It looks as though their stylists have raided the sewing box to produce the outfits the District 8 tributes are wearing tonight. The girls, Hetty and Gingham, are wearing white dresses which have been elaborately decorated with lace and ribbons. And those gathered, floral print overskirts could only have been designed to show off just one of the many beautiful fabrics which District 8 produces. As a finishing touch, both girls are wearing fascinators shaped like pin cushions in their hair, but you won't find pin cushions this big in your average sewing box. For the boys, Nap and Kenneth, we have white shirts and pants, which have been decorated with multi-coloured patches, and hats made by sewing various pieces of fabric together. District 8 may not have the best record in the Games, but their stylists can always be counted on to produce eye-catching costumes.
Let's hear it for the tributes from District 9! This district specialises in grain production - fields of cereal crops stretch as far as the eye can see. So yellow tends to be a dominant colour in their tribute parade costumes and this year is no exception. Melanie and Hermia, the female tributes, are wearing cream dresses which have had ears of wheat embroidered on the chests and around the hems of the skirts in gold thread. Their district partners, Joel and Casper, are dressed in shirts made from the same material as the girls' dresses, again with ears of wheat embroidered on them, and light brown pants. And all four tributes are wearing wreathes of wheat and barley on their heads. Will one of them swap their wreath for the victor's crown? We'll find out in the next few weeks.
And here's a bit of random trivia for you. Both the oldest and the youngest tributes in this Quarter Quell come from District 9. Joel, on the first chariot, turned twelve just ten days ago. And Hermia, on the second chariot, is eighteen years and seven months old, which makes her old enough to have been in the reaping the last time her district won the Hunger Games. Ladies and gentlemen, the tributes from District 9!
And now the district which keeps our nation supplied with meat - District 10! This year, their tributes are dressed in costumes which have been strongly influenced by the old Wild West of long ago. The girls, Callisto and Rusty, are wearing blue-and-white checked shirts, denim skirts and red bandanas round their necks. For the boys, Steer and Dwight, we have essentially the same outfits, but with pants instead of skirts. And all four tributes are wearing coats and boots made from the leather which is District 10's other major product. And those stetsons they're wearing finish these outfits off nicely. Please show your appreciation for Callisto and Steer, Rusty and Dwight!
Ladies and gentlemen, District 11! And, if District 10 is famous for producing meat, District 11 is famous for producing fruit and vegetables. This year, their stylists have chosen to reflect the orchards found in Panem's agricultural district. The female tributes, Garland and Prunella, are dressed as apple trees - their costumes consist of green dresses decorated with red balls made to resemble apples. Apples which look real enough to eat! And the theme continues with their matching hats, which have also been decorated with apples. The boy tributes, Jethro and Pod, are dressed as fruit-pickers, wearing green overalls and straw hats. And, perhaps to tie in with the girls' costumes, the rims of the hats have been wreathed with apple leaves. District 11 last won the Games five years ago - will this also be their year? All will be revealed as this Quarter Quell unfolds.
And, last but not least, we have the tributes from District 12! Once again, they've gone for a coal-mining theme - well, that is their district's main industry. The girls, Nette and Maysilee, are wearing plain black shift dresses, with no attempt at embellishment. Though how one would embellish coal is anybody's guess. In any case, the theme continues with the costumes worn by the boy tributes, Shaft and Haymitch - these consist of black pants and bare torsos, presumably representing miners stripped to the waist while working at the coal face. All four tributes are wearing miner's helmets and, in case it wasn't already obvious which district they come from, their skin has been blackened to make them appear to be covered in coal dust. On the whole, not the most flattering costumes.
District 12's performance in the Games has been somewhat lacklustre - their first and, to date, only victor won over thirty years ago. Since then, their tributes have rarely made it past the final ten. But could all that be about to change? Could we finally see a second District 12 victor? Haymitch, on the chariot bringing up the rear in this parade, has a certain look about him - he could be one to watch in the coming weeks.
Now, the chariots have drawn up outside the president's mansion and the whole of Panem waits for our great leader, President Coriolanus Snow, to emerge and address the tributes.