I saw The Hunger Games this weekend and wanted to share my thoughts. There are spoilers here.
I’ve already written about the whole trilogy and my thoughts on talking points a Christian can take away from it, and the movie really brought to light a number of the things that I wrote about there. I’m not going to bother to summarize the movie here. Rather, I’m going to provide what I found to be some talking points that Christians can take away from the movie along with my general observations. At the end I include a brief note for parents who might be concerned with their children seeing the film. See also my look at “Catching Fire.”
Christian Talking Points
The movie portrays a world in which there is a stark contrast between those in power and those without it. District 12, whence Katniss Everdeen hails, is a bleak place. The imagery seen on screen evokes mental images of the Great Depression and the photography from that era. There are sad faces looking out the windows, people marching to the coal mines, and children playing with sticks in the mud because they have nothing else with which to play.
That contrasts starkly with the decadence of the Capitol. At the Capitol, the people spend their time on frivolity. They decorate themselves as much as they decorate the places around them. Their showers cover them with the scent of the day; they can bring up whatever pleasant imagery they would like on their screens; their food is the best; they do whatever they want.
The imagery throughout the movie portrays this stark contrast. The children themselves are called upon to battle to the death, yet everyone is congratulating them as though this is some great honor and opportunity. They are required to dress their best for the “reaping” in which the Capitol personnel select contestants who will fight in the arena. The people of the Capitol pack the stands to watch the introductions and interviews of the contestants; they cheer wildly for their favorites and root for those they choose. Yet the whole time the movie makes it clear there is something deeply wrong happening. How can these people be so excited, so utterly out-of-touch with reality, when children’s lives are at stake?
The world of the Hunger Games is a commentary on our own. The world in which we live is one in which our greatest goal is comfort, yet their are children dying in our streets from starvation. This is not just far away, it is right in our own country. This is just one talking point for Christians and the Hunger Games: what is it that we should be doing to curb our own “capitol”-like tendencies?
Yet it seems like that alone doesn’t take it far enough. The film also portrays clearly the level to which people deceive themselves about right and wrong. There is a struggle in the movie (and the books) that goes beyond the strangeness of the contrast between the districts and the Capitol. The struggle is a fight over what is right and wrong. The society of the Capitol has relativized morality. They have decided that might makes right and that their comfort is the greatest good. Yet the entire movie gives imagery to that view and one can’t help but notice the feeling that something is just wrong throughout the film. How is it these people who are living lives of such great comfort are so oblivious? The meaning is subtle, but it is throughout the whole movie: there simply is something wrong, and it is the dismissive attitude with which people treat right and wrong when it comes to their own comfort and desires.
It is telling that President Snow comments on the reason the Hunger Games have a winner is in order to give hope, but “too much hope” is a bad thing. As the leader of the Capitol, Snow realizes the power of hope and how it can work even better than fear to control the masses. As long as he provides the districts with hope, he has them in control. But if they get too much hope, they will break, and the cracks start to show near the end of the movie.
The Hunger Games, I think, provide a stunning critique of our society. We live in the Capitol; we exist in a society which relativizes morality for its own convenience. And when we are presented with it in our face, when the imagery of a film like The Hunger Games shows us the very kind of decadence and futility which we so often celebrate, we are repulsed. The wrongness of the situation comes to the forefront and we must act.
Christians, I think, have much to take away from the movie (and books). We know that there is wrong in the world, and we know the dangers of comfort and futility–we are warned of these things in our Scriptures. The Christian path is one which fights against this futility and points to the one true Hope: that of our savior.
A Word to Parents
This is not a film for children. It is rated PG-13 and I think could very easily have been R. Children are killing each other. The film is, however, I think appropriate for teenagers, and parents who keep in mind some of the talking points listed above could utilize the film as a way to discuss some of the very real world issues it hints at.
Check out the Christianity Today review of the movie.
For those concerned with whether Christians can/should use movies like this to interact with the culture, check out my post on “Engaging Culture” with movies.
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.