The Hunger Games series certainly answers the questions posed with resounding impact. In November 2013, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was released in theaters and I was shocked to find myself totally blown away by it. Aside from the wonderful acting by Jennifer Lawrence and her co-actors and the cool cinematic effects, there was a certain element of the story that appealed so much to my thoughts, to my heart, and to every fiber in my body. Of course, the essence of the revolution and the hunger for deep change truly captivated me emotionally because that is historically embedded in my nation and I think that the releasing of the film was perfectly timed. But I believe the movie tells something of greater significance and immediacy.
The Cultural Significance of The Hunger Games
Looking at the present situation of the world, we see that everything is in chaos. Natural calamities are more frequent and much, much more devastating than they were before (e.g. Typhoon Haiyan, or locally known as Typhoon Yolanda, that struck the Philippines over a month ago). Many economies of the world are in deep trouble due to the domino effect of the economic recession in America which consequently affected numerous countries in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. Not to mention the different riots and political upheavals that have happened in the Middle East, Russia, and Africa and of course, the territorial hostilities and maritime tensions happening in East and Southeast Asia.
You may want to ask what the connection of these current events is with the “fictional world of Panem.” But as I said, whenever you watch a movie or read a book, you must always ask yourself what it says about us as individuals and as a whole because any form of literature is a representation of an individual culture, a society, or even a commentary of the past, present, and future of the world seen from the perspective of the author. Literature is directly connected to the society we live in. That’s the reason why we have to pay close attention to the different elements of the stories we watch or read about because you may not know it but it’s already saying something very significant about you.
The Hunger Games emphasizes on the disparity between social classes and the subjugation of the proletariat by the elite or in other words, the 13 Districts of Panem are being controlled by the Capitol, specifically President Snow. We see that the people are enslaved under a ‘Big Brother’ society, just as depicted in Orwell’s 1984, where every thought, word, and action is being closely monitored through advanced technology, which is another illustration of the social disparity. Speaking of advanced technology, I noticed one particular scene which completely flabbergasted me and that was the injection of the tracking device under the tributes’ skins. I won’t explain further but I just wanted to point it out.
Perhaps the most disturbing element of The Hunger Games series is The Hunger Games themselves, which uses the concept of human sacrifice and torture so that the society may continue to thrive. Though the morbidity of the tradition is physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually mortifying, it is the most significant aspect of that society. Playing with the human psychology and the natural instinct for survival, The Hunger Games in its gladiatorial fashion is the impetus of fear, frustration, oppression, and ultimately, rebellion. The way I look at it, The Hunger Games is a war of flesh and blood and nobody truly wins, they just decrease in number.
Is this the future of the world? With all the things happening around, do you believe that there may be a chance that we will live in the world of Panem for real?
Other Elements of the Film
Now, onto a much lighter note about the film. I really admired how Jennifer Lawrence portrayed her character. She was definitely a bombshell on the big screen and a captivating persona. She gave attitude and the right amount of humanity to Katniss which I thought was just spectacular. For an actor her age, I can say that she is well beyond her years and would definitely be one to watch out for. All the other actors did great as well; Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson, in my opinion, gave enough depth to bring about the drama and add emotional impact to the movie.
I loved Katniss’s costume change which, to me, signifies, or rather, foreshadows the change that she will undergo at the latter part of the movie. Even though I haven’t read the series yet, I felt that the execution of the plot twists was excellent and the way that they presented the ignition of the uprising and the general disgust of the characters with the Capitol was amazing.
I also loved the other literary symbols and allusions of the story such as the amalgamation of the blue jay and the mockingbird to form the mockingjay. My personal interpretation of this is that Katniss who is the mockingjay represents ‘hope’ in the form of the blue jay and ‘innocence’ or ‘justice’ in the form of the mockingbird. The mockingjay, then, is the perfect banner for the revolution. Perhaps another bird that Suzanne Collins incorporated in The Hunger Games is the lark which may represent warmth, light, and life but that is up to each person’s interpretation of the characters of the story.
Overall, I genuinely loved the movie and I would be expecting the last phase of the trilogy would be able to surpass my expectations but I do recommend all to watch The Hunger Games series.