Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hunger Games

The Hunger Games franchise is well regarded for having both a strong female lead character, and a gripping portrayal of a futuristic authoritarian society.  The movie starts with Katniss out hunting rabbits to feed her family, as she had in the previous movie.  This opening scene sets up her personality and motivations for the rest of the film.  She is not so much interested in fame or popularity, but rather protecting or looking after her loved ones.  This would be shown again many times throughout the movie, however mostly involving Peeta and not her family.  One thing that about Katniss that is unusual for a female main character was her willingness to sacrifice herself to protect Peeta.  Usually in action movies, females have a sort of supporting role in which they are rescued by the male hero or act as a love interest and motivation for the hero.  Katniss explicitly says that she would rather die than have Peeta die, which is a kind of statement usually heard from strong male characters.  Couple that with her physical prowess with bows and she ends look being more of a hero and less of a female hero.  However, she is not without flaws as she exhibits some cliche characteristics usually associated with female characters.  For one, she is emotionally weak when it comes to survival.  Towards the end of the film when she is tasked with taking the copper wire to the beach, she gets upset when Peeta is told to stay at the tree.  Clearly she is trying to protect both of them, but her emotions got in the way and could have caused the plan to completely backfire if she would have gotten her way after all.  Also, when she is making her unplanned speeches to the crowds, her emotions end up almost inciting a riot.  Instead of just reading the preplanned speech that she was told would prevent her family from being hurt, she ad libs a speech about her dead friend from the last movie, and freaks out when the predictable outcome occurs.
     The movie's fictional world plays an important role, not only in establishing the overall plot, but also in representing aspects of the real world.  As noted in one of the reviews, the inspiration for writing the trilogy came from the author seeing both reality shows and Iraq war coverage on TV at the same time.  One was fake reality, and the other was actually happening.  This translated into her writing in the form of the 'games' and the twelve districts.  The games were a way to, in a sense, hide the living conditions of the people, or at least make them scared and intimidated enough to not do anything about it.  The games, for some people at the top of the social latter, are essentially their real reality, since they have no interaction with the impoverished people of the districts.  Another thing pointed out in the review was the opinion that the movie was made to make us people feel better about living in bad conditions.  This is wrong for two reasons.  For one, it's just a movie.  Seeing a fictional story about a revolution and martyrdom probably make someone forget about their own terrible life in the long run.  For the duration of the film, sure, but if right after they go home to a bad neighborhood or to an abusive home, trying to replay the scene where people get executed for starting a riot probably won't help much.  The second reason is that it's just obvious that the movie wasn't designed for this reason.  First and foremost, it is entertainment.  The more subtle meanings and themes seem to be more of a commentary on the brainwashing effect of reality television and voyeurism.  The move was more of a social criticism than a safe place for the imagination.  Even though this reviewer's point was far fetched, the movie was still fun and loaded with messages about the value of today's entertainment and culture.

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