The Hunger Games, Gary Ross’s film version of the first novel in Suzanne Collins’s young adult sci-fi trilogy, is a predictable hit after the biggest opening weekend since ancient Rome staged gladiatorial combats. But that doesn’t mean it’s any good.
is a highly ambitious piece of work. It successfully tackles a range of
topics and themes, from class, religion and gender to pride, guilt and
justice. It is a tale that appears uniquely Iranian but quickly
transcends physical and spiritual borders to portray the difficulty of
doing the right thing under difficult, even life-threatening
If you want to filter your/your child's movie viewing through some fairly granular rules about sex, nudity and profanity, the Motion Picture Assocation of America's rating system is your friend. If, like me, you have a weak stomach for depictions of violence--glorified or not, realistic or not--you kind of have to do your own research.
In Suzanne Collins's trilogy, and the recent movie
adaptation of the first book, the Hunger Games are a nationally-televised
spectacle in which 24 randomly chosen teenagers are forced to fight to the
death in a man-made arena. The annual Hunger Games are an instrument of
oppression by the Capitol--the center of totalitarian power that survived a
rebellion--to remind the 12 districts under its power just how powerless they
The citizens of the Capitol love the Hunger Games. To
them it is pure entertainment. To the citizens of the 12 subservient districts,
it is a form of torture. Their children and neighbors become murderers or
victims, and they are forced to watch (literally--viewing is mandatory).
There is a paradox at the heart of The Hunger Games' appeal.
I am told to be grateful as I wake each morning wrapped in the unfolding blanket of dawn, shake off the moon, dying stars, and taste the beige-gray breath of incipient day.
Grateful to whom or what? To the rain that coats the pavement with its timid sheen, the birds’ silence in the settling damp, the bodies of neighbors rising, reluctant, in boxes of houses that line the street with woe and weariness?
Let me drink strong coffee, toast my bread with dailiness, uncurl myself to a day lit only by a hidden sun. I might have been rich or famous, cured cancer, saved the world. For now, let me watch butter melt as a golden flower.