Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Hunger Games

   I followed my rule. Well almost. With just a hundred pages left of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I caved and went to see the film.

      I tried reading The Help after seeing the movie, but I couldn’t even get half-way through, because I already knew what would happen. Books are more descriptive.  Still, after feasting visually and auditory on characters, sound effects, scenic sets, and dynamic dialogue, quieting down to a book with black letters on white pages, well…what is the point? Conversely, reading the book first, enables me to extrapolate. So many times, I wonder how the producers will address certain details. How will they pull it off, or will they cut away to something more conducive to the time allowed?

     Are you like me, in that when you see the movie, you feel a pat on the back when the director gets it, just like you read it?

          Talk about government gone wrong! Citizens of the nation of Panem consist of thirteen districts that aren’t allowed to cross boundary lines for work or leisure. Natural resources from each district are thrown into the elitist Capitol pot. District 12 is known for its supply of coal. Class warfare reigns sovereign, where the wealthy minority dominates the impoverished majority.

     Annually, the Capitol holds a ceremony called Reaping Day where one boy and one girl (between the ages of twelve and eighteen) from each of 12 districts are chosen by lottery to join a fight to the death. The battle is fought at a destined arena where they get few supplies and weapons. In the end, there is to be only one winner. The more impoverished citizens are accustomed to going hungry, so they prepare for gathering food and sustaining exposure better than those more privileged. They know what plants are poisonous, which herbs are healing, how to hunt for food and find water. The more privileged kids have the advantage of better weapons and fight training.

     The society is so genetic to George Orwell’s, 1984, it’s pathetic. That is not a criticism. Actually, I hope it makes people think about the freedom we hold not so dear in the U.S. The big brother size screens displayed in the common market screams of a police state.

     In the book and the movie, not one infant was cradled or crying in the crowd. Katniss, the protagonist expresses to her friend, “I never want to have kids.” As Katniss shoulders responsibility for her widowed mother and vulnerable sister, I can’t blame her. This film delineates a common philosophy. “Why would I want to bring children into such a suffering world?” There is nothing Pro-Life about this, survival of the fittest mentality. Most folks would be content to hang out on the low rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs triangle. It’s all very Anti-Life, if you ask me. Also not established in this society is religion. No mention is made of God.

     The Hunger Games also resembled Cormac McCarthy’s, The Road in that souls are refined or destroyed because of their circumstances. Also, both films were produced in our neck of the woods, The Appalachian Mountains. Eerily, they are a little too close to home. At the same time, I empathize with this familiarity. When a monarch butterfly flits and lands on Katniss’ finger, I am reminded of a yellow butterfly that last week breezed by my cheek.

     Searching for Peeta, her cohort and friend, Katniss discovers him camouflaged in bark, rock, and creek bed in an area that resembles a park a few miles from our home, called Fires Creek, known to the locals as “Furzez Crick.”

     I liked the names of the characters, as they weren’t cliché. My favorites, Rue and Prim, both young girls, seemed to mirror a beauty found as in a woodland setting, and a flower hedged by a garden gate. Rue, a fairy creature, and Prim, short for primrose. I have to say, Haymitch, the drunken former tribute, relegated to mentoring Katniss and Peeta made me think, “Hey, Mitch, don’t ya think you’ve had enough?” Cinna was appropriately named for a cinnamon colored, Lenny Kravitz, who played the generous hearted stylist.

    Interesting was the hybrid bird, called the Mockingjay, and the genetically engineered wasps, used as weapons, called, tracker jackers. I could have done without the Gamemaker’s robotic dogs that are a mutation (monster mutts) crossing a mountain lion, a Rottweiler, and a pit bull.

     I appreciate Katniss’ ability to provide and care for her own. She’s got spot on skill with a bow and arrow. Her William Tell technique illustrates her way of looking at life. She hones in on aim. She is a no-frills kind of girl.

     Peeta is desperately in love with Katniss, yet she doesn’t fully reciprocate his affection. Herein lurks a conflict. How can Katniss surrender her love for Peeta, when she’s hard wired to fight and survive, (who has time for a boyfriend?) Katniss is not given to exploring her softer side. She also has a longtime handsome friend named Gale waiting at home in District 12, looking after her sister, Prim. It’s so unfair!

     The movie, filmed in Asheville, NC and the Lady Gaga likeness of escort Effie Trinket and emcee, Caesar Flickerman, freaks me out. It is an embellishment of what I think is a direction our nation is heading. Reality shows on television and the dependence we have on our smartphones dramatize a voyeuristic culture in which we live. 

     I’m glad to have read most of the book first. I picked up on nuances, and heard lines in conversation that would usually have me leaning over on Rob’s shoulder, asking, “What did he say?”

     With now about sixty pages left in the book, I’m as good as finished.  I’m glad to have read The Hunger Games and seen the flic. Now I’m ready for something light…like Easter.


  1. Now you need to finish the series...so you can truly understand.

  2. Probably will. I'm sensing an uprising! Thank you for leaving a comment.