The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future in which a group of teenagers are forced to fight to the death on live television. One of the interesting things about this film is its implied criticism of so-called “reality” TV shows. Suzanne Collins, who wrote the novel on which this film is based, has said that she got the idea for it when she switched from a reality TV show to coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. She said the two “began to blur in this very unsettling way”. Indeed, the Iraq invasion was covered somewhat like a reality show. The military and the media colluded, for example, in concocting a fake “dramatic” story about a female army private being held prisoner by the Iraqis. This took place in a context in which innocent civilians were killed. The Hunger Games presents a future in which state-sanctioned murder has become a form of entertainment.
This is a well-made film that is superior to your usual Hollywood blockbuster. It features complex characters and strong performances. I must say, though, that I found some of the fight scenes hard to follow. Also, I would have liked to learn more about the politics of this future world. How does the regime justify itself ideologically? There are extremes of wealth and poverty. Clearly there is exploitation here, but how is it carried out? Perhaps we will learn more about this is the promised sequels.
Early on in The Hunger Games, we see a government propaganda film that starts out by decrying the horrors of war, which then leads into a justification of the blood-letting in the games. This is an interesting portrayal of how, in politics, idealistic language is often used to justify monstrous behavior.