Tuesday, November 26, 2013
#330 / Hunger Games
I saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire the day after its release in the United States on November 22nd. The film is Part Two of a three part series. It's best to have seen Part One first. It is also probably good to have read the three books in The Hunger Games Trilogy, but I haven't done that.
Heroine Katniss Everdeen is played by Jennifer Lawrence. Katniss is a compelling force, but the film is far from feminist. The story takes place in a future dystopia, roughly modeled on the United States. A ruthless dictatorship relies on technology to impose social control.
As part of its "bread and circus" offerings to the vast impoverished underclass, the dictatorship, which goes by the name "The Capitol," sets up televised "fight to the death" contests between representatives chosen from the various districts within the country. These contestants operate as modern versions of the Roman gladiators, and women, not just men, are enlisted in the Games. Twenty-four participants compete against each other. To win, you must kill everyone else.
In Part One, Katniss is able to survive without having to kill all of her opponents. She and the other "Tribute" from her district are both allowed to be counted as winners, because they portray themselves in the televised struggle as being romantically in love, and the sentiment of the nation demands that they both be allowed to live.
That result is unprecedented in the long history of the Games, and as it turns out, the idea that "fight to the death" contestants might cooperate and survive, instead of killing one another, serves as an inspiration to the underclass, throughout the country, who see Everdeen as a symbol of possible revolution.
In Part Two, Everdeen is made to compete again. The spectacle this time leads to a real revolution, but Everdeen, who is the inspiration for the revolution, is never clued into the plan. Male characters orchestrate the revolution. Everdeen is just another woman, used by men, to achieve their political ends.
An exciting movie, but not feminist. More than anything, I found it helpful as a way to contemplate what's in our future, as technology is mobilized as a tool of dictatorship.
Will the revolution succeed? Since I haven't read the book, I guess I'll have to wait for Part Three!