The Hunger Games: Thoughts on the Movie

This is not a review for people who haven’t seen the movie, just my thoughts afterwards. There are spoilers, so if you don’t know the story, be warned. These are separate thoughts, not a fluid essay.

Quite shocking early on was how the capitol talked about how the Hunger Games were being used for “good.” They may have kept the peace (and definitely were controlling the districts – they really should listen to Haymitch about hope rather than oppression), but that doesn’t make the killing “good” by any means. This was something I felt throughout the whole thing. People were upset by the games, but no one said “this is wrong,” they just didn’t like it.

Another thing I hadn’t noticed as much in the book was the government’s use of propaganda to control the districts, as well as their false notion of forgiveness. The government’s propaganda! They claimed they had forgiven the districts, but what kind of forgiveness is it that requires payment every year?

The visual contrasts between the capitol and District 12 were powerful. The emotion built when children were going off to the reaping made me cry – parents are hugging their children, knowing they may be sent to their deaths that day. The two other times that were powerful for me was when Katniss and Peeta entered in their chariot and when Rue died, especially when we had a snapshot into her district, and a man I’m assuming was her father and his grief. I was in tears then, not so much at Rue’s death but the suffering of the parents of the tributes.
And yet, in the Capitol, the Hunger Games are a joke – a game. Even Effie is more worried about the mahogany table than Katniss’s fears or Haymitch’s hand. The people in the capitol are disembodied from the reality of the games, which is probably why they don’t see an issue with them – they don’t have to give anything to it. It makes me think of the American Dream – people are pursuing their own happiness and turn to an inward focus.
What made me the most outraged in the movie was the gamemakers and how they play with the lives of the tributes. Like with the rest of the Capitol, it’s all a game to them, not reality. They don’t seem to realize what it is they’re doing, destroying lives. I actually became somewhat upset with myself, since when I first heard about the series I was absolutely horrified by the idea – and yet now I’ve read the book and watched the movie. Both with the purpose of reviewing it, but even so, at first I was so appalled I didn’t want to come near it. The film especially seemed to dull my mind so it was harder to assess and I was much more drawn in by it than the book.
While Katniss and Peeta were in the capitol, the main thing I kept thinking of was “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” This fit in well with the whole Roman theme, with fascism, chariots, tributes, and even names, like Cato.

Peeta boggles my mind. I can’t read him. He seems to love everything at the capitol, and seems excited at the games – but there were times I wondered if it was a mask to hide fear. He’s charming and comfortable with the media and crowds, though when he’s in a smaller setting he seems very humble.
Katniss is much more real, especially after Rue dies. Death is not emotionless to her; it’s real. It means something more than winning and losing. Something I noticed was how Katniss seems to need someone to help – Prim and her mother, then Rue, then Peeta. She’s most comfortable when she’s helping them. Both of those things are commendable, but don’t account for her going along with something she hated. She compromised so much, with Peeta and also by not speaking out against the games.

It was hard not having the characters’ thoughts. That made it a lot more difficult to understand them, though even in the book I had trouble deciphering everyone but Katniss, which shows why everyone loves her – she’s the only one we really know.

The amulet was much more prominent in the movie, but the reality of the hunger in the last days of the games wasn’t – I wish that could’ve been switched!

The shaky camera was hard to watch, but mirrored how I felt – unsettled. I thought the spattered blood was more disturbing than actually seeing the killings, but maybe I would have been just as disturbed by the others. I was struck with how terrifying it would have been to be running through the woods with no idea where anyone else was. Throwing knives are scary. The wasps were also scary… and I don’t like watching things on a big screen – I can’t take it all in at once, even though we were sitting near the back of the theater.

In the end, I really only root for Gale and Cinna. I love how Gale (and Cinna) protects Katniss, and how he has the right idea of trying to stop them instead of just going along with it. But, his comments to Katniss after the reaping show that he’s just as blinded as the rest of them to the wrongness of the killing. He hates the slavery, not the death. Cinna we don’t know well enough to know if I’d really like him.

The movie made me feel unsettled and upset. I was angry at people for not seeing what was wrong with killing people for a game. It’s not just about the oppression and slavery of the government, which is how Gale and Katniss seem to view it. It’s way more than that at stake – souls. I was angry at people in the Capitol for toying with lives the way they were. But if we can dispose of unborn babies and euthanize at will – then why can’t we toy with anyone’s life like that?

There was absolutely no closure for the ending, which probably added to my feeling unsettled. As we talked about it afterwards, I had a few realizations:
1. It’s easier to assess this drastic worldview than it is our own, because it’s so obvious what’s wrong with being entertained by death like that. It’s much harder in a day and age where our fascination with death is much more subtle.

2. As we were talking, I realized that I was basing what Katniss should have done on the possible end result of stopping the games, rather than the personal conviction to do what’s right. It doesn’t matter if anything changes, you need to obey God. You may die and there be no fruit, but better that than go against your conscience. Telemachus didn’t know what result his jumping over the wall and speaking out against the games would have. He didn’t know his death would lead to the end of the games – but he did know that they had to stop, and that he should do something about it. So the question isn’t of the effect our actions have, but what’s right to do… and then doing that, whatever happens in the end.

Once more, I’ll say that life is not our goal, so self-preservation is not an okay reason to kill. I wrote more on this in my book review, though, so if you haven’t read that, please do so.


2 thoughts on “The Hunger Games: Thoughts on the Movie

  1. Emily S. says:

    First of all, thank you Kyleigh, for posting this and taking the time to contemplate these issues. I have not read the book/seen the movie nor do I intend to, not because I’ve decided it’s bad but because-as you said about Harry Potter-there are just simply better books worth my time to read. With that said, I’m still interested in learning about the Hunger Games. I think it important to have an opinion on them and understand how it is shaping the culture, I also have good, Christian friends who are enjoying the series and I don’t want to condemn something out of ignorance. I have a good friend who went and saw The Hunger Games movie and she described the movie as a dystopia-like you said-and compared it to Brave New World and 1984. She said that this form of literature is designed to give you a world that you come to hate then turn the tables and show how it’s really the world you live in. It should be unsettling, that’s the point.

    Here’s my question: If that’s true, wouldn’t Katniss’s blindness to the evil of the Hunger Games further the point? Even the “good” people are blind to the evils of their day-like us. But then again, shouldn’t the ending be something more along the lines of Katniss overcoming her blindness and showing love (the true solution to violence) to those involved in the games? But maybe Ms. Collins does that at the end of the series. I don’t know. Does the story have to have a victorious ending or is the mode of literature designed only to make you think? In addition to being a literature buff I’m also a writer and I have to resist the urge to tack on happy endings to every story. 🙂

    Interesting discussion.
    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!


    • kyleian says:

      Emily, thank you for your comment!

      I don’t think a piece of work showing an evil needs to overcome it if its point is like that of Brave New World or 1984 (though I haven’t read either, so all I say about them is hearsay). My problem with Hunger Games isn’t so much with the movie and book themselves. I think Ms. Collins did a fine job if that was the point she was trying to make (though from my research I’m not certain that’s what she was doing). But I think that many people are missing the point. I don’t feel like she turned the tables to show how similar it is to where we are, and the people I’ve talked to either haven’t noticed or don’t care about the connection (though I wonder if many realized the point of 1984 and Brave New World when they came out).

      As far as it can show the direction our society is headed, I like it and think it’s useful, though I do question the use of violence to show how violent we’re becoming. But the way most people are treating it and raving about it and talking about how much they love the characters (in the sense of supporting them) is what I find the most upsetting. There are exceptions, of course, but I think for the most part, if Ms. Collins was attempting to show us where we’re headed – her cry fell on deaf ears (but that would only prove the point of how far we’ve gone!).


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