Do popular movies reflect the world we live in? If they do then our existence could be sadly disintegrating, obviously more so in the middle east, where civil wars tear their ancient society’s apart, than thankfully in the so called civilised west. What we get on the big screen are ‘worlds full of cowed populations, tyrannical governments, post-nuclear, pollution-devastated, war-torn landscapes, corrupt elites, weaponised viruses and other assorted horrors’ is this what future generations have to look forward too?
Two films I have watched recently highlight this dystopian world, not for adults but for children! The first was Kevin Macdonald’s How I Live Now (2013) based on a book for ‘young adults’ by Meg Rosoff. The second was The Hunger Games (2012) a film I would have like to have kicked up a fuss about along the lines of being not suitable for the young audience its meant for: but I can’t do that! I really could not believe how good this Gary Ross directed film actually was. Admittedly I have come late to this franchise with a sequel already released and two more films planned, the first in November 2014 and the second a year after. And I would suspect that most cinemagoers would already know the story but in case I’ll give you this brief synopsis:
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the capitol of the nation Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to complete in the Hunger Games. Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sisters place and must rely upon her sharp instincts when she’s pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared for these games their entire lives. If she is ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
The best way to describe this film is a cross between the big brother house where people are brought to enjoy being a sacrificial lamb for TV ratings in luxury surroundings with top-notch food and given to believe they are the equivalent of rock stars or premier division footballers for a short period, and the 2000 Japanese action thriller Battle Royal directed by Kinji Fukasaku which tells the story of how teenage students are forced by the government to complete in a deadly game where each must kill the other until there is one person left alive. An underlying thread in Suzanne Collins bestselling novel is how the rich and powerful demean and persecute the lower classes hoping that this grand TV spectacular where children are killed for entertainment will keep the populace from rioting as they have done in the past, in other words a dose of violent pink gin.
It sounds a dreadful premise I know, and although its about violence and death it has been subjected to cuts and dumbing down to make it ‘suitable’ for its targeted audience, although that’s probable a matter of opinion, reality TV has a lot to answer for. But as I said before I can’t believe how good this film is. The story line is totally absorbing, the film itself is mesmerising and the whole production beggars belief. The acting goes a long way to make the movie completely convincing with a stand out performance from Jennifer Lawrence who always makes any role she performs her own as she did in Winters Bone (2010) and Silver Linings Playbook (2012). If you have not seen this film I would suggest you put that right which will make The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) essential viewing.