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Current Events, Movies

“The Hunger Games” movie reviewed and discussed by a Christian

I have already written about the Hunger Games trilogy and offered some uniquely Christian insights into the Hunger Games movie, but here I wanted to give a brief review of The Hunger Games itself from a Christian perspective. There will be SPOILERS in the following discussion.

Rather than giving an overview of the plot (any interested reader can get such an overview here), I’m going to dive right into a review.

Review

The movie is definitely not for children. There is a great deal of violence in the film as well as a number of scary images. Anyone who looks at my previous posts on the Hunger Games and sees the comments will realize there is a great deal of controversy over whether it is appropriate viewing for the Christian. I will comment on that shortly.

I enjoyed the movie a great deal. The moral conflict is pervasive throughout the film is so dense and immediate that it almost presses on one as a viewer. On the other hand, the conflict is not blatantly obvious, nor does the film clearly portray who is in the right or wrong. Everyone has dirty hands. It’s a movie that seems to reflect life in its parallels with the real world. Obviously, these parallels are blown out of proportion in some ways (for example, we do not sacrifice children in a battle to the death for our pleasure), but on reflection one can easily find disturbing ties into our own society (child trafficking, child pornography, and the like–these can easily be seen as parallels to the Hunger Games).

The action in the film is great but I have to admit the occasional use of camera waggle to try to make the action intense is unneeded and distracting. I think this is a modern convention among filmmakers that has far outlived its welcome. For a few movies it seems to work, but now it seems every film uses camera waggle for every explosion, every punch, every fall to the ground. It can be really, really distracting.

Back to the controversy: a number of Christians have spoken out against viewing this film. For example, some who commented on my previous posts argue that we should not view it because it shows violence (or even glorifies it) and that such things are not good for the Christian to view. But the Bible itself depicts all kinds of horrifically violent scenes. Surely these same Christians would not object to reading the Bible! The question to ask ourselves is this: what is the point of the violence? Is there a purpose in the portrayal of the horrors on screen? It seems to me, as far as the Hunger Games is concerned, there is indeed a purpose. I’ve written in extended detail on this in my post on the trilogy, but I’d like to point it out here one more time: the impact of this film and its story is not so much that it is an action flick that gets your blood going; the impact is rather that we are so close to being the Capitol in so many ways. The film practically screams that we must stop this unnecessary violence. We must work against injustice in our world. And those who are affected most by the conflicts, greed, and malevolence in our world are children. Having that portrayed on screen is a powerful call to Christians to fight for justice.

Talking Points for Christians

Why is what’s happening in the Hunger Games wrong?

Think about this question for a moment. If you think that there is something inherently wrong about what the Capitol is doing to the people of the Districts in the movie, then there must be some kind of basis for your moral reasoning. But, as I’ve argued extensively (for example, in my post on secular humanism), on an atheistic worldview there really is no ultimate moral code. How then, do we consistently condemn violence like this, even if it is someone else’s belief that such things are good or necessary?

Is there anything wrong with the lives of those in the Capitol?

As Christians, we can use this as a talking point. The people of the Capitol seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. They have others to do their every bidding and they can effectively enjoy life to its fullest. Yet it is interesting to note that there are a few characters who seem to be unfulfilled. President Snow is an obvious example–he is a despot who must maintain his power. Why is it that these people are unsatisfied? Do we need more than limitless pleasure and leisure to have a satisfactory life?

What is unjust in our world and how are we working to stop it?

Let us be frank. There are things in our own “backyard” that are reflected in the hunger games. Any time a child is abused, we can see that injustice portrayed and subtly condemned in this movie. What are we going to do to stop injustices like these? Is the Capitol really so different from our everyday lives?

Conclusion

Overall I think The Hunger Games is a movie that Christians can watch in good conscience. In fact, I think there are any number of talking points that Christians can bring to the movie and discuss with those who are talking about it. Some of these talking points were illustrated above. The movie is a call to fight injustice, and yes, it is a good action flick while it makes this point. I recommend it.

SDG.

Links

Deeper Hungers and Darker Games– The Hunger Games reflects a world without God. What does it mean?

The Hunger Games: The Atheist’s Utopia– No God: Utopia?

Christian Reflection on the Hunger Games Trilogy– My thoughts on the entire book trilogy.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

4 thoughts on ““The Hunger Games” movie reviewed and discussed by a Christian

  1. A great post JW, but I am going to disagree about the camera work for the action scenes. While I agree that the wobble technique needs to leave the scene, in this particular film I thought it was an appropiate and thoughtful way to display the violence of the games. Especially at the start of the games, you are able to see that horrible things are being done, but the image is distorted by the shaking effect, making the image harder to focus on and, therefore, harder to get stuck in your head. I think that if they shot those scenes without the wobble and just filmed still shots, the film would have been rated R. Doing it with the wobble effect prevented the full scope of the violence from being observed while still acknowledging that someone just got killed. In this movie, I thought the wobble effect ( which I do not like either) was a smart and considerate choice on the cinematographer’s part.

    Posted by Austin Gravley | August 21, 2012, 9:56 AM
  2. Really the only objection I can think of is that the movie feels too short. It’s approximately two #and a# half hours long, however it feels as if it goes by #in a# blink. I will have to watch it again to completely pay attention to every detail (such as the costumes and animation #of the# Capitol, which looked brilliant). But this remains to be not me saying that the movie is rushed, because as I acknowledged the source material is rather dense plus the filmmakers managed include nearly everything.

    Posted by Myrtis Zemon | August 25, 2012, 7:11 AM
  3. I am curious as to what the Christian perspective is in relation to relationship boundary violations evident throughout the movie on the part of the leading female actor…. loving and remaining faithful to one man is subordinated to ‘loving’ multiple men simultaneously….the normalization of kissing/’loving’ multiple men is in my view a subtle sinister message that subverts Christian family values.

    Posted by Charlie | November 24, 2013, 11:52 PM
    • I think it was less a matter of “subverting Christian family values” as it was a confused teenage girl thrown into a situation in which no teenager should be placed. Moreover, I’m not convinced by the notion that there is any “subordination” of “‘loving’ multiple men simultaneously” to be found in this film. Nowhere does it suggest that there is a normalization in place; nor does the act of kissing someone reflect any subversion of Christianity.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | November 25, 2013, 7:35 PM

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