The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins provides a very exciting, stirring read, engaging young adults – and now of course adults too – with major issues in today’s world.
I saw The Hunger Games movie having read the trilogy a couple of years ago. I found the books compelling in their narrative of horrific events, in the end delivering several shocks with the deaths and betrayals of characters I liked, but also some ingenious turning points. I felt the final outcome could have been more redemptive / uplifting, especially in view of the epic forces of good and evil this story deals with.
The forces of evil in this hypothetical future America are spiralling decadence, selfishness, obsession with glamour, image and celebrity, and inhumanity – and looking at our own world, if these forces were to reach a certain pitch we can see they would indeed lead us to some such outcome as the Hunger Games. In Panem, the inhabitants of The Capitol revel in the ultimate reality TV, entertained by the violent deaths of randomly drawn teenage “Tributes” from the oppressed
Districts. Those Capitol citizens behave just as the crowds did in the ampitheatres of Ancient Rome. The fact that the young people drawn by lot then sent out to fight to the death are first glamorised, feted and paraded in front of the cameras alongside an oily TV host, makes it even more chilling. Another strong motif is the vacuous sentimentality of the massed audience, leading them to gush at a possible love affair between the main protagonist Katniss and her fellow-tribute Peeta whilst being equally ready to watch them meet a horrible death at the whim of the Gamemakers under the merciless direction of their Chief, Seneca Crane.
What stood out for me in the movie was Katniss herself. Played by Jennifer Lawrence she was totally absorbing. Her compassion, her courage, her survival skills and her subtle resistance of the evil in which she was forced to take part shone out. The intense concentration on Katniss’s every move in the Arena made me feel I was there with her. Our attention and our hopes were 100% on Katniss. The empathy and support she won from her allies Haymitch and Cinna also made a strong emotional impact.
The premise of the story, and narrative flow of the movie was highly unusual and intense. The cinema audience sat in silence throughout, a silence to match the silence behind the action for the first part of the film – save for a few moments in the last half of the film when emotional reactions were inevitable! Brilliant, unforgettable and a sharply-focused portrayal of some of the worst excesses of the western world taken to their logical conclusion.