Contributed by Donna Marie
I, along with tens of thousands, saw The Hunger Games on opening weekend and, according to Entertainment Weekly’s Inside Movies box office update, the opening day box office for the film was the best for a non-sequel. Hoping to avoid the seemingly inevitable throngs that would be lined up to see this movie that’s all the rave and taking the nation by storm, a friend and I made a plan to see the earliest Saturday morning showing at a nearby ‘hundredplex.’
For the most part, I’m not the kind of girl who likes the idea of queuing up to see anything … at least not since I lined up outside Radio City to attend that Jackson Five concert in the 80’s or that Christmas Day (in the 1990’s) when I stood in the cold to be among the first to see Godfather Part III or … OK, I’m no longer that girl except when I am. Anyway, I digress. My friend and I joined a modest line-up of eager fans and saw the 9 AM showing of The Hunger Games on opening weekend which, I suppose, makes me part of the latest movie phenomenon.
Honestly, I had not heard about The Hunger Games until last year when a guest chef contributed a Culture Casserole to The Daily Special feature. Even then, all I knew was the name and that it was a book. So, my decision to go was based on 1) walking past a Barnes & Noble bookstore and seeing a throng of kids and adults, patiently waiting to purchase the book and get it signed, and 2) the spirit of adventure, curiosity and discovery that I possess.
So, there we were, watching The Hunger Games in IMAX, not knowing exactly what to expect and going along for the ride. While I watched I found myself intrigued by many aspects of the production as well as the plot.
From a production standpoint, the film-making is grand, sweeping, worthy of an IMAX experience. In this day and age when movie goers are balking at high ticket prices ($18 per ticket for IMAX in New York City!) and opting for the small screen to watch movies, (or converting a living room wall into one’s own personal drive-in with the use of a movie projection system and watching movies streamed from NetFlix or DVDs borrowed from the library like a friend did recently), it is no easy feat to get fannies into the seats when there are so many options available to a technologically savvy population. Mission accomplished on the part of the producers of The Hunger Games–it is definitely the kind of movie that truly benefits from the big screen experience–it is a visual smorgasbord of delight. And, at the before-Noon ticket price of $11 (full price for IMAX IS $18!) offered by the AMC Theatres in my city, it was a steal!
In terms of the plot, there were many themes that speak to where we are in life and who we need to be in the face of life’s circumstances.
At the macro level, there is the historically significant theme of children being called upon to bear the brunt of responsibility for past conflicts of adults; this is clearly reminiscent of the way armies press young people into duty (some are driven by patriotism, others looking to escape poverty) to fight the wars the adults have wrought. Then there was the very topical theme of the 1% being supported and entertained by the 99% whose main focus in life is on survival. Further, the disposability of young people by a satisfied, even decadent elite class whose concerns go to simple pleasures like having dessert or making light of matters of life and death might be viewed as indicative of the way many in our society are lacking in compassion for others. Witness the youthful ‘prank’ played by the Rutger’s student on his roommate who felt it was harmless to film his roommate having sex with his partner and acceptable to invite his friends and tweeps at a designated time to the viewing of this personal act between friends. It was only because the young man, whose privacy was violated, committed suicide that this blatant disregard, even trivializing of such an action, was brought to light. The fact that there was such blatant disregard for the privacy of another, might be viewed as indicative of how we as a society have become so insensitive to the needs and boundaries of others.
At the micro level, we see the main protagonist, Katniss, playing the role of hunter-gatherer for her family, expressing strength by volunteering (and in all probability sacrificing her life) to protect her sister and reflecting classic role reversal when she as the child feels the need (based on past experience) to demand that her mother stay responsible and take care of the home and her sister while Katniss participates in the 74th Annual Hunger Games. This theme in particular resonates with me and many of my friends of a certain age who are being called upon to provide support to elderly parents, support that is often financial or physical or emotional, or all three.
With all that said, The Hunger Games is a riveting film and a worthy view. And, at the end of the film, when the stage is set for the sequel, I realize I’m vested in what’s to come and, while I might or might not read the books, I will see the next theatrical installment.