I haven’t read any of The Hunger Games trilogy that has been gripping ‘readers’ across the world recently – mostly because it looks a bit too much like teen-lit for my liking – but I didn’t object to seeing the film adaptation on an Easter Monday when the only thing to do outside was to be subjected to gale force winds and torrential rain. The cinema? I’m in.
For what I’m told is quite a small novel, the film was a bit of a stretch, clocking in at 142 minutes, but I wasn’t at all bored. The Hunger Games involves two of my favourite things – a post-apocalyptic society, and reality TV. It certainly is a rare occasion when you can enjoy both in one place. The first half is spent setting up the world of Panem, and the tradition of the Hunger Games – enough to keep you engaged and interested before the games themselves begin and occupy the second half. Panem was formed from the ruins of North America after some unknown disaster, and divided into 12 districts. As a punishment for a district rebellion against the Capitol, there are annual Hunger Games, in which a male and female teenager from each district is selected to take part in a televised fight to the death, in which only one person can emerge triumphant. I found myself watching the tribal politics and survival tactics with the same kind of ‘Yeah I could do that if I had to’ mentality, with which I also watched Home Alone as a child – although in this instance, I really don’t think I’d be quite as successful.
We go through the games on the side of the hopefuls from District 12 – conveniently wrapped up in a love story which begins as a TV plot, and later becomes something a bit more real; verging on ‘star-crossed lovers’ territory. It’s love that’s actually so strong, it threatens to bring down the entire establishment. When the two threaten to eat poison fruit in the arena to commit suicide, I did see construed reflections of Adam and Eve in Eden. If it was meant to be that deep…
The Hunger Games ties in a lot of great parts from other sci-fi films – from the other worldly jungle of Avatar, to the brutal competition of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Similar to Harry Potter, the author has here created a world that can be drawn upon extensively throughout future books and films (kudos on the cash in) – it’s certainly a place you’ll be interested to see more of. However, the absence of mythical creatures, or anything too ‘space age’ does make it that bit closer to home. You can see its realistic potential a bit more because there’s no magic involved, and despite the drastically different social situation – everything still looks fairly normal.
That said, I do reject the conclusions of some reviewers who over-state the lessons our society has to learn from this film. True, it shows the lengths we’ll go to for reality entertainment, and the facade it becomes – but the kind of show depicted in The Hunger Games isn’t exactly an inevitable result of our declining morals. It could only come as the result of some major new world order, with wacky totalitarianism at the apex of it all. If we ever get to that point, having a macabre tournament as our prime TV entertainment will be the least of our worries.
The Hunger Games is in cinemas everywhere now.