Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Catching Fire in a Culture of Death
By Jan McClure

Movie Review of
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Brian Dern

This is the second film from a trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins. There will be two sequels released, first The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 in 2014, and then Part 2 in 2015.

I only saw about three quarters of the first film because it was quite violent.  To sit through the entire second film, either I have become desensitized to the premise of the film or I became more involved with the characters.

The culture in the Hunger Games series is presented as an obvious culture of death.  Human life can be extinguished just for the pleasure and entertainment of others. In real life, in our society, we are doing the same, but it is hidden from view, inside the womb.

The society in the film is run by a dictator, and there is a definite division of classes.  The rich, who seem to be only interested in pleasure, drink a concoction that makes them vomit so they can eat more and thus taste everything available. This, too, reminds me of our own society. We purchase more than we need, we build storehouses and we continually discard.  I am also thinking of myself.  I have too many shoes and there are others who don’t even own one pair. Looking at myself, this is a sin of gluttony, coveting (fashion is just that) and selfishness.  When everyone is doing the same, the vices are not as obvious.

The film begins with Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (played by Josh Hutcherson) beginning their “Victor’s Tour” of the districts.  This is to promote how wonderful the games are, and it gives hope to the people.  Katniss and Peeta are supposed to portray that they are happy and “in love”, and that winning the games means they will achieve happiness. Isn’t it interesting that this is  what Satan continually tells us.  Just buy this, the devil says, or achieve this, and you will be happy. But of course we are never satisfied.

Katniss is in love with her boyfriend back home, Gale Hawthorne (played by Liam Hemsway), but the victory tour is to continue for the rest of their lives, which means they will always be  away from home.  Again this reminds me of what the media portrays, that being a star or having success means being happy.  Not true in the film or in real life.  The only true happiness is found when we are in communion with God.

There is a lot of symbolism in the film that mimics the Bible. (On a side note, I looked up information about the author of the original books, and Wikipedia states that she is a Roman Catholic.) For example, Katniss appears as a bride and the people have hope in her for a better life.  They claim that she is giving people something to believe in.  Her clothing catches fire for dramatic entrances, and that reminded me of the Holy Spirit engaging us.  Ironically, as a bride her clothing turns into a mocking jay, which is also befitting.  Although she is not an evil figure in the movie, she is a false idol, similar to how people idolize movie and pop stars today.

The games are held under a clear dome that separates the sky from the atmosphere. President Snow (played by Bruce Dern) has control of everything within the dome, through computers. He is playing God.  It reminded me of Genesis 1:6-8:
Then God said: Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other.  God made the dome, and it separated the water below the dome from the water above the dome. And so it happened.  God called the dome “sky.” Evening came, and morning followed, the second day.
Although the movie never mentions God, there is so much biblical symbolism that I found it a fun exercise to see how many I could spot.  I am sure that I missed some.  Please feel free to let us know of any that you discovered!

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (and we hope you will post a comment below!):
  1. Besides abortion, in what other ways does our culture promote death?
  2. Name some small and/or big ways you have given up your life for others?
  3. Why is it more helpful to follow a Saint's life instead of reality TV, movie or pop stars?

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