Today, we feature some thoughts on the final instalment of the Hunger Games films which comes out this month.
Much has been made of the novels and the first three films and there has been a lot of controversy over the teen-on-teen violence in them, and the nature of the teen relationships throughout the stories. However, I would like to leave these important discussions on the shelf for this article, because the third book and the final film take a different trajectory to the previous.
The final film is the completion of the final book, Mockingjay. In this book the story moves on from the previous two ‘Hunger Games’, where teenagers are forced to fight to the death until one remains alive and the winner. In Mockingjay the story develops to an all out chaotic, widespread war. There are two parts of the story that I found hugely disturbing on first reading. These incidents are moments when I was jolted from the mindset of the easy reading of a Young Adult dystopian novel to the disturbing realisation of reality. (Slight spoilers ahead).
The first incident is that of the bombing of a hospital. This scene comes straight after Katniss, our protagonist, visits the war wounded in a hospital, overcoming her awkwardness and nerves to build up a rapport with them. Moments after she leaves, she watches the hospital being bombed- and tragically, there are no survivors.
Secondly, towards the end of the book, a much beloved character dies. This death is utterly pointless and caused by ‘friendly fire’- she is caught in a bombing campaign from ‘the good guys’. The death of this character actually undermines the whole point of the book series, for it was this life that was saved at the start of the first book.
In this way, Collins has presented us with two very uncomfortable and very real scenarios of war. There amongst this global franchise of the films, with the expensive merchandise and famous cast, is a seam of truth that we ignore at our peril. This story is not sci-fi; it is already reality for millions across the world.
If the argument is that the Hunger Games is too distasteful because it focused on teenagers killing each other, look around yourself. Look at the world.
With this in mind, I would like to offer some quotes and commentary on this aspect of the final book and film of the Hunger Games series. In presenting these quotes I am not attempting to take sides or come up with clear-cut answer- there isn’t one. However, these quotes are thought provoking and could perhaps be used to begin a discussion about reality of the films and the reality of war across the globe.
“Are you preparing for another war, Plutarch?” I ask. “Oh, not now. Now we’re in a sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated,” he says. “But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction. Although who knows? Maybe this will be it, Katniss.” (Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins)
“I believe [my father] felt a great responsibility and urgency about educating his children about war…If we introduce kids to these ideas earlier, we could get a dialogue about war going earlier and possibly it would lead to more solutions” (Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games series)
“I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in things because I’m afraid it could be taken away.” (Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins)
“Despite all of this, however, you are left with the impression that there are, indeed, some things that are worth fighting for, even if war should only ever be a last recourse. In fact, The Hunger Games leaves you thirsting for the Catholic teaching of Just War.” (Catholic Herald)
“In broad terms, Christians must not love violence. They must promote peace whenever possible and be slow to resort to the use of arms. But they must not be afraid to do so when it is called for. Evil must not be allowed to remain unchecked.” (Catholic.com)
The ending of the Mockingjay is one of a tentative hope- that of new life and new beginnings. In the light of this and in the light of so much violence around the world, here is one final quote to end with:
“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us.” (St. John Paul II)