Thursday, April 05, 2012

Heroic odds

So I finally saw “The Hunger Games,” and can I just say, whoa. I had not read the book or any of the other subsequent books in Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular trilogy. (I know, I know – don’t throw things at me.) So, other than its basic premise, I did not know what to except. Or, more precisely, I did not expect to react so viscerally to the film’s premise. Without reading the books, on paper “The Hunger Games” seems like it might be a just a simple, bloody game of survival. Man-against-man – or more precisely child against child – with only one left standing. But after seeing the films – and I’m sure even more so for those who read the series – what strikes me instead is the fight against inequality. Because, woo doggie, is the uprising coming or what?

In fact, what the first movie did more than anything was make me excited about what is coming next. And that something is rebellion. The rich v. terribly oppressed themes were quite interesting. What the best dystopian stories do is hold up a potent mirror to our current state and worst impulses. Would humanity every really devolve to a society where the richest sacrifice the poorest children in bloodsport as entertainment for the masses? One certainly hopes not. But in other ways, to stretch the metaphor, we are a nation already that sacrifices the poorest children to the most inadequate healthcare, the worst educations, the most environmental violence, etc. Again, I’m stretching. No one is televising 12-year-old attack each other with machetes. Still the most startling futuristic tales have enough echoes of our current discords to make us squirm uncomfortably in our seats.

So then what helps make this story special is not just the glimpse of an unsettling future, but the promise of hard-fought salvation. And when that salvation comes in the form of Katniss Everdeen, it becomes quite extraordinary indeed. Tough, resourceful, savvy, practical, brave and determined, she’s everything you want in a hero and what we so rarely find in our big-screen heroines. Most female leads are so very concerned about you liking them. In fact, her struggle with getting people to like her is a theme in the film (and I assume book). So while she learns to play the game, she knows it is still just that. Like I was saying, extraordinary.

A lot was resting on the more-than-capable shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence to turn this series into a hit. And, man, did she ever deliver. Biggest opening weekend for a non-sequel (behind only “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” and “The Dark Knight” in all-time opening weekends). Highest grossing action film with a female heroine already. So now the test becomes if Jennifer can continue to be the champion we’ve dreamed of. If the oppressed can overthrow their oppressors. If we can save a fractured future and find a small piece of our more perfect union in our present. Interesting stuff, I tell you. I feel the odds are definitely in our favor.

19 comments:

Kristan Hoffman said...

Good writeup, and it was interesting to see how you reacted to the film having not read the books.

I'm a big fan of the books, so I had high expectations going in. And I loved the movie, I really did. But (as I recently blogged about) I went with my boyfriend who, like you, had not read the books, and he came out of the film with a lot of questions that made me realize how much I was filling in without even knowing it.

Now, he's a smart guy, but you do seem to have *felt* the message of the movie a bit better. (Like, he got it, but he didn't fully buy into it.) I wonder if your political leanings (vs. his) had an effect on that, or if he just wasn't willing to suspend his disbelief as much as you were...

Trip said...

Oh, I am so excited about it !! - My daughter and I are going to see "The Hunger Games" soon ...

And we, too, haven´t read the books, so we really don´t know what to expect.

Greetings,
Trip

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Skitch said...

"If we can save a fractured future and find a small piece of our more perfect union in our present." It's a beautiful thought. And seems almost possible. Until you find something like this...

http://jezebel.com/5896408/racist-hunger-games-fans-dont-care-how-much-money-the-movie-made?popular=true

So utterly disappointing. It's sad to think that they obviously missed the whole point of the books/movie.

Anonymous said...

I find it hilarious you think the dystopian rich vs. poor themes were intra-american poor vs rich. I mean, sure, it's headed that way. But in terms of selfish, unrealising cruelty the west already imposes itself on the poorest parts of the rest of the world in this way. This happened. That's my takeaway from the hungergames.

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled with the movie and the fact that it stars a strong female lead. Check out UN agenda 21 this is where we are heading and what the movie is about.

ker said...

i too had not read the books before seeing the movie last week! I was riveted and was bummed when it was over. Stopped to get book one on the way home and getting books two and three this weekend. Have to know what happens next!

Anonymous said...

"Would humanity every really devolve to a society where the richest sacrifice the poorest children in bloodsport as entertainment for the masses?"

Yes.

Quite frankly, movies like this (See also 'Running Man' etc.) aid in the desensitization of the youth to such notions. The first step in changing people's attitudes towards what are currently socially unacceptable ideas is to desensitize them to those ideas. Promotion can only commence after a time spent desensitizing...

Humans are so easily manipulated it is truly scary!

Thus, I do not intend to see this movie. I do not want to be any more desensitized to child on child violence than I perhaps already am.

Besides, the unbelievable (suspect) hype is in itself quite off putting.

If you want another take on all this 'Hunger Games' hype and nonsense check out this from Vigilant:

“The Hunger Games”: A Glimpse at the New World Order?

http://vigilantcitizen.com/moviesandtv/the-hunger-games-a-glimpse-at-the-new-world-order/

PD

egghead said...

"If we can save a fractured future and find a small piece of our more perfect union in our present. Interesting stuff, I tell you. I feel the odds are definitely in our favor. "

I haven't seen the movie YET, but I am definitely a political junkie, and I think the idiot extremists in this country have over-reached big time. They came and messed with the women of this country. I don't think they have ANY IDEA what is coming to meet them in November.

These r-wing extremists are trying to suppress the vote; they are race baiting every other f'ing day;
approx. 30 some states already has this idiot stand your ground make my day law; AND they are messing with women's rights? Not to mention what they have been doing to Latinos. Gee, the list never ends with these people. So really, life imitates art?

I kind of agree with PD about the violence/desensitization, but I'll have to see the movie first.

Anonymous said...

Katniss Everdeen - a strong heroine. Superior to Bella from Twilight in every way. (If you have a problem with that, then come at me.) Cgrrl

kilik said...

All I can say is..
I WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE!..
We need this kind of movie often!

Your friend, Rusty said...

I took a 13 year old boy who'd never read the books. He loved it and now can't wait to get his hands on the books.

I had read the books and have just a few nitpicky complaints about some of the changes. On balance, I loved the movie.

I was worried going in to the theater that the audience would react to the deaths with cheers. They did not. I couldn't get over how quiet the theater was. It was a respectful quiet. Except for open sobbing when . . . well you know when. I think this was a pretty good sign that the director got it right as far as the violence. It could have turned out like a video game movie in which it's all about the body count. The audience I was with got the awfulness of the situation.

sarcofugus said...

:O I've been meaning to see the Hunger Games for ages now ... just never seem to have the time.

I think that it's awesome (not to mention we don't get enough of it) that a female heroine in cinema, well, to put it frankly; kicks ass. You're right, she's everything a hero should be, flaws and all. And it's so nice to have a female adventure character not be portrayed simply as James Bond with a sex change or some weak little nobody that's only there for the cleavage.

Having read the book (which was great, by the way. You should really check it out)

Having read your positive words, I'm now even more exited to see the movie!

Cheers :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I missed stuff too, having not read the book. Simple things, like oh, how is it she can touch an electric fence? In the book it explains it in the first chapter. Movie coulda been better in that respect.

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Mary Going said...

The book is well worth the read. Katniss is a complex character, which we only see glimpses of in the movie. Her relationships with her mother, her sister, Gale and Peta are deeper and richer - more interesting. The character that was most changed is Haymitch. He is mostly sober and highly functional in the movie, but never was in the book.

Mary Going said...

One more thing: when you read the books, you'll see that Katniss is not white. I love Jennifer Lawrence. She plays a fantastic Katniss. BUT, I'm pretty tired of whiteness seep onto everything that isn't really white.

Your friend, Rusty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Your friend, Rusty said...

In the books Katniss is described as having "olive skin." This usually means people from Mediterranean areas.