Extra Credit 1: The Hunger Games

I saw The Hunger Games the night it opened in theaters. I had read the book less than a week before. In The Hunger Games, Katniss, a 16 year old girl from District Twelve of Panem, the country that has risen out of the ashes of North America, volunteers to compete as a tribute in the Hunger Games to prevent her sister from having to go. Katniss and her district counterpart, the baker’s son Peeta, must fight for survival and to somehow maintain some level of their humanity.

Hunger Games takes place in a dystopian near-future environment in which global warming has destroyed much of the world, reclaiming it for the ocean. The country of Panem rules with fear and oppression, withholding invaluable supplies from its people and pitting the districts against each other annually in the Games. This oppression results in districts who harvest coal not having enough to warm their own households and children starving in the agricultural district. The opening shots of the film show the people of District Twelve in their state of poverty going to work and back. The film also utilizes hovercraft with the capability of cloaking themselves and mutated animals, such as the tracker jackers, mockingjays, and the wolf muttations shown at the end.

Thematically, The Hunger Games explores the path that America has been pursuing of late in media. It plays on humanity’s obsession with violence and destruction and shows one possible end of that obsession through the Games. The Games are, as shown in the movie and described in the book, mandatory viewing for all of Panem, and considered a celebration in the Capitol. Capitol citizens enjoy the Games and have become desensitized to the fact that children die as a matter of fact during the Games. Only Peeta’s star-crossed lovers ploy reminds the Capitol that these are people whom others care for.

Hunger Games is also a thought experiment for dystopia, as it explores a culture in which the twelve districts are forced as part of their subjugation to send two children to the Capitol each year to fight to the death. This exploration of dystopia and the eventual act of defiance that sets Katniss and Peeta apart from the other victors of the past allows the viewer to see what might happen if we allow our society to get out of hand. Hunger Games is more than an exploration; it’s a warning.

The movie was well-made, and the actors did a splendid job. The only flaw I personally saw that I would wish changed was the amount of shaky camera work. I understood the reason behind it, but it made me slightly disoriented most of the movie. Haymitch, Peeta and Katniss’ mentor, stole the show along with Effie, their escort. As a movie it was excellent, as an adaptation of a book it was quite good. A few characters did not get the screen time or the lines from the book I’d hoped, but I understood that time constraints meant parts had to be cut. Overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

– Julie Allbeck

One Response to “Extra Credit 1: The Hunger Games”

  1. Warren Rochelle says:

    Recorded.