Last week Kara and I went to see The Hunger Games in Chesterfield. Neither of us have read the books (yet) but we wanted to get the full movie experience before reading the books. I was familiar enough with the storyline to know what to expect and I came away completely impressed with the final product.
Overall, the movie was incredibly well done. The design was beautiful, the CG was top-notch, the dialogue was well-written, and the acting was excellent, especially Jennifer Lawrence’s work as Katniss Everdeen. (Rumor is that she’s already being talked about for an Oscar, something that none of the Harry Potter movies can claim to have won.)
When it comes to the premise, let’s be honest… the premise of The Hunger Games is kind of morbid, in the same vein of “Lord of the Flies” and “The Island“. In the growing pornography of violence, I will say that The Hunger Games is the latest glossy-covered edition. Twenty-four teenagers killing each other in gruesome ways does carry a certain shock factor throughout the story. If the premise is all that’s focused on though, it’s easy to miss some really rich parts of the story, and the power of the premise is what helps underline them in the end.
Is it actually believable that a world might exist in the future where this is the annual reminder of war’s devastation? Is it only about these teens being thrown into this world of “kill-or-be-killed” with no correlation to society today? As we watched the movie, I started to connect different pieces to our own world…
- The appetite for the Capitol’s elite to see destruction and ruin in others’ lives, even in the lives of youth, reminded me of the paparazzi, TMZ breaking news, and celebrity gossip over the latest rehab story. We love to see someone fall and fail miserably as we look on with flashing camera bulbs, capturing every second of it. This flies in the face of a grace-filled Gospel.
- Social injustices under the President’s tyrannical rule over the districts reminded me of the warlords spreading terror across Africa, Asia, and Central America today. These injustices are not always blatant to the outside world, using North Korea as an example of how many quiet horrors happen behind closed doors.
- The cold indifference towards the tributes’ deaths reminded me of the inaction of first world inhabitants today as millions die each day within our ability to help.
- The abundance of food in the Capitol and its scarcity in the districts reminded me of a whole variety of situations in our world today when it comes to abundance and scarcity, everything from food to medicine to clothing to clean drinking water to education.
God and faith may not have been mentioned in this film, maybe since faith was seen as a necessary casualty of the preceding Apocalypse, but the connections between our faith and the journey of these characters is unmistakeable at times. There were some beautiful and powerful themes throughout this story, themes of friendship, justice, loyalty, and taking action in an inactive world.
I loved it when Peeta said he wanted to remain who he was, unchanged by outside forces of evil, and not become a monster because he was in the Games. (“If I’m gonna die, I want to still be me.”) Katniss’s own metamorphosis from passive participant to a heroine focused on a higher good holds its own collection of rich imagery and truths.
Maybe the eclectic fashion sense of the Capitol or the savage nature of the premise would make it easy to disassociate from our own world. Maybe our own inaction is too closely reflected in this story for us to realize. But maybe, just maybe we can see that The Hunger Games is more of a mirror to our world than we might admit. Maybe the odds are never meant to be only in our favor.