The Hunger Games

ImagesIt has taken me awhile to get some space between seeing the movie, The Hunger Games, and not being disturbed.  If you don't know anything about the movie, it is based on a popular series of books by Suzanne Collins.  I have not read any of the books but they are quite popular among teens and some adults.  After seeing the move, I am committed to reading at least the first book.  I have been told by several people that the books are amazing and much more violent than the film. 

A brief summary on the plot.  The setting takes place in a post-apocalyptic world which could be the United States.  Capitol is the city where the dictator of the Governnment lives who runs the rest of the country which is divided into 12 districts.  Capitol is futuristic and wealthy, the districts are not.  The districts are each different and it appears that one is for the coal miners, one is for the grain farmers, etc.  In order to keep the districts in line, each year a boy and a girl is picked at random (lottery style) from each district to be in the Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games is annual form of entertainment put on by the media almost akin to the survival shows we see on TV now.  The people who run the Hunger Games show also manipulate what happens during the live event with random fire, giving out life lines such a medication etc.

Bottom line, there are 24 kids (12 boys and 12 girls) who are randomly picked and thrown into a contained area where they are forced to survive until the death of 23 of them take place.  One person wins.  The people living in the Capitol as well as the districts watch the games as they are streamed live over large TV's throughout each area.  There are cheers when kids are killed as the game continues to the end. 

The main character, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is a smart and savvy hunter.  Girls are responding to the girl power part of her role as she is brave and tough.  Bottom line, there are kids killing kids for the decadence of the people in the Capitol…kind of reminiscent of the Gladiator but the characters in this particular plot look like us, dress like us and act like us not like Romans in togas.

In the world that we live in today where teens have access to guns and violence and bullying are top topics in schools and there is a growing divide between the haves and have-nots, this movie can certainly make for some interesting conversation after the show.  If you take your kids, there should be more than one conversation about the film.  I recommend going because the film in many ways defines the times as it is a huge hit but prepare yourself, I walked away upset and distrubed with the content particularly as kids in the audience cheered when another kid was killed because Jennifer Lawrence was still alive.  Ouch. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Anne Libby

    It’s definitely something to think about the different way that our young might be feeling like “Tributes,” beyond the inescapable transformations of adolescence. 1% of our population is deploying over and over again in these wars. College admissions stress, debt stress/job search stress. (And media declarations of a “lost generation”…)(And yes, the books are both brutal/more nuanced.)

  2. pixiedust8

    I loved these books (although the third wasn’t as good, but the author had to tie up a lot of loose ends). I just saw the movie last night and couldn’t believe the reviews that said the movie “glossed over” the kids’ deaths. I mean, what were they looking for? Platoon? I think one interesting thing about the story is that it considers the last effects of violence. For example, Haymitch is a drunk because of his Hunger Games experience and having to mentor all these years of District 12 kids who didn’t stand a chance. I’m also relieved to see a badass YA heroine after the popularity of helpless Bella in Twilight. Given all the political furor surrounding women’s bodies and birth control, I got a certain satisfaction from seeing a young woman buck the system.

  3. LGBlueSky

    I just finished the third book and am riveted by the story. I have been discussing each part with my 11 year old who read the books but only really understood the main plot, not the numerous subplots and life lessons. Now that I am done with the trilogy, I miss Katniss and am craving more…the sign of a great read.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i’m downloading today

  4. Sharon

    I’m trying to get my head around this too— I was beyond disturbed.  Yet, fascinated by the appeal.  Makes me curious and uncomfortable– can’t step away, yet want to.  I guess a sign of a story of our times… 

    1. Gotham Gal

      I think you are right. A sign of the times

  5. Julia Wilson

    I greatly enjoyed them and Katniss is a great lead character, she is smart and tough but also compassionate. Jennifer Lawrence did a lovely job but she still couldn’t fully portray just how awesome Katniss is. I would like to know how you feel about the series after reading the books. 

  6. WA

    Same Conch Shell, different era.

  7. Susan Rubinsky

    I didn’t see the movie but my 15 year old son did. The reviews all noted that the movie wasn’t as dark as the books. (An interesting note: my son went with a bunch of boys from school — several of the fathers went along because they wanted to see the film too but none of the mothers went.)While I didn’t read or see, I think back to books like The Lottery and wonder how this is any different? Or, in real life, how is this any different than the brutal stoning of an “adulterer” 13 year old girl in Somalia because she was raped by an uncle? My son sees this stuff every day online in the NYT.I think these stories (and the film versions of them) give teens not only an outlet for their frustration and fears, but also a vehicle for expression. Perhaps our teens may not yet be able to make sense of this world we live in (nor can I, to be honest) but stories like these give rise to the right questions.

  8. Meghan

    I just finished the first book. As a mother of two young boys I really had a tough time at the start of it with the premise. It kept me on the edge of my seat but definitely still disturbed. A bit like passing a car wreck and not being able to look away. Makes you think. 

    1. Gotham Gal

      The book is next in my cue. Am super curious