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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Hunger Games

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Making U.S. Box Office history with the highest midnight opening ever “The Hunger Games” swept into theaters last week. The film is based on the 2008 best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins, the first book in a trilogy of novels that the author says “explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age. “

This is a story for our times, a cautionary tale.
 
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is 16 years-old and lives with her 12 year-old sister Prim (Willow Shields) and withdrawn mother (Paula Malcomson) in District 12 is the post-apocalyptic event USA.
 
Seventy-four years before the events in the book take place a revolution against the then government occurred but failed. As punishment, reparation, and a form of control by fear, the government holds “games” in the Capitol every year. Each of the twelve districts must sacrifice a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 who will go the Capitol, pretend they are having fun as they prepare to be on a reality television show, and then engage in a survival exercise in a vast outdoor arena where they kill each other off. Only one can survive.
 
Prim is chosen but Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place. The boy chosen is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Katiss and Peeta have known each other all their lives but they are not close. Katniss is shy be cause once when she and her family were starving after her fathers death in the coalmines, he gave her bread. He tossed the bread to her in the rain and now is embarrassed that he did not hand it to her. Instead Katniss’ best friend is Gale (Wes Bentley), a young man who has hunted with her in the forbidden forest beyond the electrical fences.
 
“The Hunger Games” is a story filled with moral dilemmas that the young people and those close to them must face in a controlled society with an omnipresent government that dominates its citizens. How to survive without killing anyone except as self-defense or defense of another, how to be part of the fake and banal world of celebrity television without losing one’s humanity, the many shades and obstacles to true love, family, and how to endure life with an all-seeing totalitarian government whose absolute power has corrupted the leaders and their hacks absolutely?
 
Katniss is the heroine from the beginning and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is compelling and graceful amid terror. The moment where she mourns the young girl Rue in the arena moved me to tears. It is also a moment that changes everything.
 
I was watching one of the morning network news shows last week a day or so before the film’s release and one of the commentators described the film as “kids killing one another for sport.”  It’s too bad that whoever wrote the script didn’t bother to read the book. There is no “sport” in the “The Hunger Games” unless you count the ancient practice of letting gladiators battle for their lives against wild animals a sport. One late night talk show host made a similar crack; interesting that hardly anyone laughed. The mainstream media is at the service of the government in “The Hunger Games”. They make banality an art form though we discover that there is more to some of the people involved than meets the eye.
 
Everyone just wants to survive but some are ready to sacrifice everything that others might live.
 
Instead “The Hunger Games” is about young people of character and humanity where love and empathy dictate their choices over a totalitarian regime that rules by fear, hunger, poverty, control and the threat of death for no reason except control.
  Since the US has been engaged in wars by choice over the last several decades, violence and conflict have been normalized. Suzanne Collins’ examination of life under surveillance, the threat of violence and its effects on young people, family and society, is chilling but also serves as a wake up call.




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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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