Monday, August 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

By now, you probably know something about The Hunger Games. In early summer, it made quite a splash grossing over $400 million at the box office. To say it was a success would be an understatement. Now that the film has been released on DVD and Blu-Ray, I thought it may be time to take a fresh look at The Hunger Games.

On the surface, this film would seem to be a very simplistic tale. I know at the time of its release, there was a fair amount of criticism about the content in The Hunger Games. Several pundits suggested it was the same typical trash that Hollywood produces to undermine the morals and values of our young people. As the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Perhaps, the question the critics should have been asking is why did this film connect with so many people, especially teenagers. As a Christian, I see this film as an opportunity to build bridges and explore complex issues that’s facing our youth today.

I have a theory why I think so many young people related to this film. I believe they identified with the characters of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who are fighting for their very lives in the Annual Hunger Games, as they become a tribute to the Dystopian Post Apocalyptic Nation of Panem.

I realize that most young people are not fighting for their lives in a literal sense today; however, in a metaphoric sense, I think they are in a battle for survival. Our society forces young people to grow up way too early. There’s too much pressure to succeed. If you don’t get the right grades, you don’t get into the right schools; therefore, your life becomes a failure. Young people feel an enormous amount of pressure to get to the top no matter the cost. Perhaps, in one sense that is the reason they have identified with this film.

You might think this film would contain a great deal of violence. After all, it’s a story about 24 young people from 12 different districts who fight to the death in a televised battle. And only one is the ultimate victor of the Hunger Games. The film does not contain any form of glorified or stylized violence. In fact, I think that The Hunger Games is a movie that sends a message against violence.

The Hunger Games offers something for everybody. Its story is complex and textured with multiple layers of meaning. If you are a conservative, there’s a message concerning the evils of big government. If you are a liberal, there is the message of the rich and powerful exploiting the work of the working class to their advantage.

This movie also serves as a cautionary tale, especially for younger generations. Something has terribly gone wrong in the futuristic society of Panem, which was once the United States and Canada. Here in America it’s easy for us to believe that our freedom and liberty will never cease to exist. Freedom is never guaranteed. We always have to work to preserve it.

The Hunger Games is also a hopeful movie. Even when things go terribly wrong, someone stands up and does the right thing. Throughout history, this has been the case. In this film, Katniss is our hero and champion. She places others before her needs. She becomes a sacrifice and ultimately will become “the one” who will redeem a society that has gone wrong.

And, finally, perhaps the other thing that stands out the most in this film is that The Hunger Games can be described as a Christian Allegory. There is an abundance of Christian themes such as self sacrifice, the message of a need for a substitute or atonement for sin, a resurrection and a Christ figure.

The Hunger Games is a film that’s worth your time and investment. It’s a great movie for discussion and dialogue. I think the film is saying something important about society and our future. Suzanne Collins wrote the hunger games as part one of a trilogy so we will not get the entire story in this first installment.

It’s my understanding that the remaining chapters will be divided into three feature films. It’s too early to say whether or not The Hunger Games will join the ranks of other classic trilogies such as The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars; however, I have a feeling it’s going to be a safe bet.

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