The Hunger Games: The Odds are Ever In Your Favor

The Hunger Games poster artBased on the first book of the best-selling trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games reminds us that no matter how much civilization advances, it can regress equally as far. Sometimes back to some of its’ ugliest and most base instincts.

Set in the ruins of North America, the nation of Panem has risen from the ashes of a global war. The Capitol of Panem is ruled by an elite class living off the labors of its’ 12 surrounding districts.

As punishment for an uprising during the “Dark Days” some 74 years prior, the Capitol has devised a twisted form of reality TV, where two Tributes from each of the 12 districts, one boy and one girl, ages 12-18, are chosen by lottery and forced to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. There can be only one survivor. The Victor returns home with unimaginable wealth for life and brings honor to their District.

The Games serve as a tool for instilling both fear and hope in the people the Capitol seeks to keep under its’ control. Or, as they put it… “as a reminder of their generosity and forgiveness.”

The Hunger Games is the perfect allegory for whatever societal ills we want to assign it. One most obvious parallel is between our voracious appetite for reality TV today, and the blood thirst of the Romans who enjoyed nothing better than to watch gladiators take each other out in their own version of reality theater.

Effie and Katniss in the Hunger GamesWhen introduced to the citizens of the Capitol of Panem, we’re reminded of WWII Germany and the seemingly willful ignorance of its’ people to the horrors that existed on the opposite sides of the walls of the concentration camps within their cities. The cartoonish stylings, luxurious surroundings and excessive lifestyle of the Capitol’s people, stands in stark contrast to the bleak existence of the 12 districts who serve them. And, while all citizens of Panem are required to watch the Hunger Games, only in the Capitol is it the most highly anticipated event of the year. The Tributes serving as mere pawns in the spectacle and pageantry of the Games as the Capitol people bet on their favorites to win.

Our heroine, 16-year-old, Katniss Everdeen, hails from outlying District 12, where she hunts in restricted areas outside her district in order to provide for her younger sister and widowed mother. Her best friend, Gale, often joins her in the woods, also hunting squirrel to feed his family. He is distraught when Katniss volunteers at the Reaping, in place of her little sister, 12-year-old Primrose, whose name is drawn as Tribute.

Katniss and GaleAlso picked as Tribute for District 12, is 16-year-old, Peeta. Through flashbacks we learn Peeta has a strong connection to Katniss, a connection the two of them can use to their advantage to try to take control of the game away from those who forced them and their competitors into it.

As much as it makes us reflect, The Hunger Games also makes us grip our arm rests in anticipation. Every moment is fiercely entertaining and suspenseful, while also filled with moments of tenderness, and even humor. Brilliantly cast and a feast for the eyes in its’ retro-futuristic costume and set designs, after two-plus hours, you won’t want it to end.

Thankfully, they’ve left it open for a sequel. Or two.

Whether you’ve read the books or not, the Hunger Games is “must-see TV” at the movies. The odds are ever in your favor… of loving it.

 
Chris Bird is a designer, WAHM of one and pilot’s wife living in Colorado. She writes about family travel as Standby Traveling Mom on TravelingMom.com as well as her many misadventures and life in between at MamaBirdsBlog.com. Follow her on Twitter.