Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Hunger Games

imageWhy would you want to see a film in which teenagers are forced to fight to the death for a live TV audience? Sounds monstrous, doesn’t it.

Perhaps we want to see it however for the same reasons we want to see art and drama in which people are persecuted for their beliefs (Quo Vadis); decide to give themselves to their besiegers to save their city (Monna Vanna, Burghers of Calais); die for an impossible love (Romeo & Juliet, Tristan & Isolde) are forced to endure totalitarian punishment for either their vices or virtues (Clockwork Orange, 1984, Darkness at Noon, We, Anthem).

If the drama is good enough, i.e, if the theme is sufficiently powerful and told masterfully, with the barbarity integrated with the story and not used solely for titillation, then the dramatisation tells us something important about humanity in extremity. Who wouldn’t want to see that!

imageSo I’m persuaded by people whose advice I consider seriously that I should break my self-imposed exile from the watching much-hyped new releases at the cinema, wherein so much garbage untouched by human minds has been vomited out in recent years, to see the film The Hunger Games.  Reviewer Ari Armstrong reckons the book on which it is based “is a worthy addition to the dystopian corpus”:

Although Collins’s novel does not offer the philosophic depth of certain other dystopian works (including, most notably, Ayn Rand’s Anthem), it does skilfully portray believable and heroic characters trying to live and defy their oppressors. For that reason, The Hunger Games is a worthy addition to the corpus of dystopian works.

And about the film reviewer and film buff Scott Holleran says, “It isn’t fast and flashy like most of what we consume in today’s similarly-oriented movies. It is slow and subtle. As a dramatization of the individual against the state, it is a work of art.”

It is not pumped up blood porn like 300. The Hunger Games is based on reality, not fantasy. There are no speeches with lines about fighting for reason. There are no massive assaults on the senses. There are no excessively graphic scenes… It is also not laced with sex porn like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. There are no lingering shots of graphic human degradation, no fundamentally, deeply damaged souls at the center, and no scene exists without a purpose that serves the plot…”

Sounds good, doesn’t it. Almost

too clever and subtle for its own good, …part of a rich history in dystopian-themed filmmaking about the classic theme of the individual against the government – 1984, V for Vendetta, The Mortal Storm,Agora, Doctor Zhivago,The Lives of Others, Sophie Scholl, We the Living (all of which should be seen, especially now) – and it earns a place with every sound of the death cannon that hits you hard and makes you feel hollow below your chest. As any story against government control should.

I see a trip to the cinema in my near future.

How about you?


  1. When you have seen it, would you write a review please?

    My personal expectation is that it will be absolute crap - based on the historical observation that the more a film is hyped before release the worse it is (think Avatar, Titanic, Girl Tattoo rubbish, ... ... .... the list is endless.

    I am prepared to be proved wrong, so I'll read your follow up with interest.

    Dave Mann

  2. I've seen the film. Honestly I thought it was over-hyped. It will appeal to Twilight fans, I'm sure.

  3. I saw the film and found some aspects interesting, but others very poor compared to the novel (which is good, but designed with the YA audience first in mind, and philosophical depth second - or third). Nonetheless, I will be very interested in what you have to say on the matter.

  4. Dare I ask, but are there vampires?

    (If there are vampires I have a blanket policy of never, ever, ever, ever watching, right until I die.)

  5. ... and then after I die. Never, ever.

  6. @Mark Hubbard: There ain't any vampire with The Hunger Games. Please don't connect this one with Twilight. :)

    Reading the book first would sound a lot better before watching the movie.

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  7. Nope.

    If I do see it, it will be when it comes out for a $1 overnight rental from the local automatic DVD dispenser.

    Notice that this dystopian classic takes place in the ex-USA - as opposed to the equally fucked up countries in Europe, Middle East, Asia or where ever.

    The peoples of the ex-USA meekly submit to this tyranny in a way that belies both our history and the embryonic political awakening that is occurring in the USA of which the Tea Party is but one sign.

    You could argue that this is a projection of a possible future. I would say to what end? What is the warning that this movie conveys? What is the heroic image of man/woman that it presents? Your review can point to none.

    Thus this movie seems to fall into the catagory that so many Hollywood extravaganzas have of late: anti-US, anti-capitalist, crap designed to appeal to markets in Asia and Europe (Hollywood's target demographic now that us low-sloping-forehead rubes in fly-over country have stopped paying to see Hollywood's movies).

    I point-blank refuse to pay to see another celluloid propaganda piece that slights my adopted country as a proto-fascist home to simpering weaklings too stupid to rise up en-masse against tyranny even after said tyranny starts preying on our very own children.

    And besides that, everybody in my neck of the woods owns a long rifle. And they have done since the French and Indian wars. Bows and arrows are for rich well-fed idiots who's next meal doesn't depend on their stalking skills and accuracy.

    So even the premise sucks shit.

  8. I think looking at the quality of film viewers in line to see the movie is a good indicator of the movie's quality.

    These people in line. Are they people I'd want to talk to or identify with? Probably not. So I'm probably not excited about the movie they can't wait to see either.

  9. .... so, its over to you then, PC... :)

    Dave Mann

  10. I read the books, and saw the movie (among an audience 90% tween girls).

    It isn't a bad movie, it misses opportunities to be considerably greater, but inevitably subtleties of the story are lost.

    The story isn't about the world it's set in. Suzanne Collins has not constructed a well thought out future dystopia - the world is a fairly shallow oppressive environment in which to set a story about dealing maturely with adversity.

    It's a well written engaging story that exists to invent worthy heroes for youth to emulate while not being a deeply considered comment on any form of governance.


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