Time for … The Hunger Games

Posted: March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Yes, I made the obligatory pilgrimage to the cine du jour, The Hunger Games. It is an “edge of your seat” kind of movie, but not one that will ring the originality bell; we’ve seen the plot and the themes too many times before. It’s based on a trilogy by Suzanne Collins (watch out sequels!).  One of the finest aspects of the film was the leading actress, the heroine, none other than Jennifer Lawrence, the young woman who surprised us in Winter’s Bone.

The plot is simple: A force has taken over our country, divided the conquered into twelve districts. The occupiers live decadent lives of excess. And as a punishment for a past revolution, the districts are forced into a combat to the death once each year. Two representatives, one male and one female, are chosen from each district. In gladiatorial fashion they are touted, paraded and bet upon. One shall survive at the end. Only the hope of getting to that last survivor position keeps the games intact.

As a form of “survivor,” last person standing, the story pits wits and brawn against the designs of the contrived and controlled system. It is not simply a matter of competition, Darwinian style, but the machinations of those directing the show – which is televised everywhere, much like the Truman Show – adding and adjusting limits and obstacles along the way.

Much like other narratives of occupation and resistance The Hunger Games holds a tension between the regulation of those in power and the innovation of those who would shake free of it. In the end those in power are left with the awareness of an ominous fissure in the armor, a vulnerability that unsettles presidents and brings hope to the oppressed.

More than anything, Hunger Games plays with the themes of determinism and free will. There is much in the lives of our characters that is circumscribed. But within that imposed design are spaces for free thought and action, novelty and creation, that is beyond what oppressors could have predicted. Handlers will not be able to control outcomes as they thought, not as long as freedom, hope and courage are at work.

You can’t help but root for them, the citizens of the districts. And that’s the point, I suppose, that we wonder how we contend, survive, and stay human in our own hunger games, in the many ways they come to us. And they most surely do.

  1. I watched the hunger games at http://watchthehungergames-online.com, it was awesome!

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