Introducing The Hunger Games
This is what teens are into today: a mixture of classical Greek mythology and Roman history. Sound far-fetched? Maybe. But, these are the basic ingredients of the hit series, The Hunger Games to be released to the big screen this month.
The Hunger Games is the first part in best-selling trilogy by author Suzanne Collins. Close to three million copies in print helped the first volume occupy the New York Times Best Seller list for over a hundred weeks.
Would you kill for a loved one?
The first film instalment introduces us to Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl living in a dark & dangerous future. Katniss’s world is carved up into thirteen districts ruled over by an authoritarian Capitol City. Each district is required to choose by lot a girl and boy to fight to the death for the televised amusement of their overlords. To Katniss’ horror her little sister Primrose is selected to fight in the 74th Hunger Games. The only way to protect ‘Prim’ is to volunteer in her place. But is Katniss prepared to kill strangers for love’s sake?
The Hunger Games asks 'how can someone survive such civilised brutality without becoming a different person?
The film carries the tagline ‘The games will change everyone’. It’s a nod to how dependent modern morals are on perspective. The Capitol City audience can be enraptured by suffering because it’s confined to their small screens. Within the games, though, principles are sacrificed for the sake of survival. Katniss is paired with Peeta, a boy who once risked himself to get her food. Collins has ensured Peeta’s desire to do 'the right thing' has made it into the film:
Peeta: I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me.
Katniss: I just can’t afford to think like that.
Would you die for your beliefs?
Peeta holds his beliefs to be more important than simply living. This is not just Hollywood guff; it finds its foundation in the same history Collins drew upon to create her trilogy. Among the thousands that died to amuse Roman citizens were a high proportion of Christians. Pollycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, was offered his freedom by the presiding proconsul if he would acknowledge Caesar as God. The alternative was a death by beasts or flame – fates mirrored in The Hunger Games. However he responded:
Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?
Katniss faces a spiritual crisis centred on who she understands herself to be. If people who watch this movie can learn from her example that life is more than just surviving, and our character can live on, even when our bodies don’t, then there’ll be a remarkable pay-off to The Hunger Games series.