This review has spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, then go see it then come back and read this. You have been warned, now you can’t get mad.
Harry Potter? Too much commitment, I mean those books are long and there has to be about twenty of them.
Twilight? If I read them I would have had to pick a team, and how do you do such a thing when they are both so dreamy?!
But the Hunger Games, there was something about them they drew me in and before I knew it I had read all three of them and was having deep arguments with youth in my youth group about the minutia of Panem and it’s districts.
It had its problems, I mean seriously, a teenage boy and girl think it is their last night together on earth and they spend the night cuddling? These should be used as the textbooks for the abstinence movement. But over all I loved them, so last week, at the age of 31, I experienced the same excitement as the tweens that surrounded me while waiting for the movie of the first book to start. I was not disappointed.
Sure they made decisions I didn’t agree with. I wish they had included the scene where District 11 sent Katniss the bread. Peeta and Katniss were in pretty good shape after the games, where in the book they were almost dead and so on. But what I loved was that the focus of the movie was not the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale, but rather the social commentary on our infatuation with violence, our cultural obsession with being entertained by the misery and destruction of others via reality TV. The fact that the comfortable “capital” is wealthy because of the poverty of the “Districts”.
This film, and these books I think are a gift to the church. Fascinating conversations can be started from this film. Just asking our young people where they place themselves in the story can be a fascinating discussion. We typically want to associate ourselves with the good guys, the underdogs, but we need to push our youth to stretch and see how much we are like the Capitol, satiated and oblivious to the destruction our lives cause. We need to lead them to the realization that this is not just a action movie, but is really an anti-action movie. Why is Katniss and Peeta not happy when they win? Why does Katniss waste time decorating the body of deceased competitor? Why does she waste time mourning, and why does this lead to District 11 revolting? Why do the film makers make all the shots from the Capitals prospective clean and steady, where shots from the Districts perspective were gritty and shaky? Why so little music throughout the film?
These questions and others can lead our young people into a deeper understanding of the film, lead them beyond getting excited by the violence into seeing the violence that we are complacent in.
Finally, we can ask the question that we should always bring our youth to: how does our Christian faith interact with this story? This is a fascinating story to explore this question. What does our faith say about violence, oppression and poverty? What does our faith say about wealth, power and comfort? Though the answers may seem obvious to these questions, we then need look if the answers we come to are reflected by the Christianity, by our church, by us individually.
And once we have had these important conversations we need to ask the question that gets to the root of it all, the one that really matters, which is obviously is she going to choose Peeta or Gale? Shoot, I have to choose a team again!