The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 - reflecting a radical mood against the systemThe latest Hunger Games film presents inequality to a mass audience, but remains pessimistic about how people fight back, writes Fran Manning
In the first film of the final part the Hunger Games trilogy, protagonist Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is living in District 13.
It’s an underground community of resistance fighters. Yet thanks to propaganda from the ruling Capitol, it’s thought that they’ve been wiped out by the other 12 districts.
The inspiration for many of the post-apocalyptic scenes could have come straight from the US invasion of Iraq.
We see highly sophisticated weaponry and modern torture techniques, set against images of war-torn areas strewn with rubble.
Katniss is now the reluctant figurehead of a bloody revolution. The rebels are intent on the liberating the colony-like Districts from the oppressive Capitol.
But Katniss seems more preoccupied with saving her partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) from the clutches of the ruthless ruler President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Her reluctance to lead partly dissipates as she witnesses more of the atrocities that the Capitol inflicts.
But her commitment always appears fragile.
Anyone anticipating a socialist message of revolution from below would be disappointed.
The revolution is directed from above and is highly dependent on a celebrity or even God-like leader.
Meanwhile, the exploited masses are portrayed as “sheeple”, who can only act when directed from above.
This represents a fundamentally pessimistic view of human potential.
But the film is based on the story of a revolution, and raises questions about inequality and the power of the media and the state.
It looks at the relationship between the two in a radical way that mainstream blockbuster movies rarely do.
And it continues to explore how our rulers use divide and rule tactics.
There is a subtle, but powerful scene where President Snow and his advisers debate the most effective way to delegitimise resistance.
Should they call them “criminals” or “radicals” to undermine them?
The film’s popularity reflects the radical mood against the system and mainstream discussion of
That’s something that we should welcome and engage with.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. Directed by Francis Lawrence. Lionsgate films. Out now
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