Until a week ago I'd never heard of the Hunger Games. I had no idea there was any controvesy surrounding either the books or the movie. So I asked Star, because Star is in the target age group & keeps up with these things. Today we went & saw the movie. We have yet to read the book.
Now there are a couple of things before we start. Star is almost 17. Hard to believe I know but she is not a young 16 & is very savvy [& dare I say sceptical] when it comes to anything to do with the Arts. She knows how they get the effects so we get the bad jokes about raspberry jam & if it's badly done we hear all about it. Secondly the movie has a M rating in Australia. M. Not MA. Not R. Not X rated. M. In other words while there is some violence it's nowhere near as bad as it gets. There is no sex. I didn't notice any swearing. Frankly it's pretty tame in the physical violence as these things go.
I must admit I was surprised at the number of under 12s standing in line to see this movie with a parent in tow ~ & no, this is not a children's movie, but not because of any excessive violence. Given the premise of the movie, a reality war games televised nationwide with children doing the killing, I understand people's concern but the reality is very different.
Firstly it is more a psychological study than anything else. What happens to different sorts of personalities when you put them in an extreme situation like war where only one person can survive? Some are dehumanised. Others become even more humane. It speaks about sacrifice for others, about doing what is right because it is the moral thing to do, about how one can change things by who one is & how one acts. It tells a ripping good story.
Most of the violence is contained in just a couple of short scenes about mid~way when the children are first dropped in the killing arena. The camera shots are blurred. Nothing really graphic is shown. What is conveyed is the sense of panic, disorientation, fear. This is where the camera places it's sense of tension throughout the movie ~ not on what is done but about how the characters feel ~ their fear, their sense of betrayal, the teneous friendships, the coalitions, & finally hope; a way to beat the system at its own game. The one scene that scared the living daylights out of me was the least likely & required such a suspension of belief it should have been cut from the movie altogether.
Yes, there is some violence later on as well but again, if you watch modern crime TV you have probably seen worse during prime time. Sorry, but to fuss about the level of violence in this movie is something I just don't get.
Despite what some people think this is a YA movie, in the same vein as John Marden's Tomorrow When the War Began. It looks at teens put in an extreme situation & how that affects them. It is very intense emotionally but it is not the sort of thing I find deeply disturbing.
For comparision I had The Survivor by Walter F. Moudy. As the saying goes, nothing new under the sun. Moudy did it first in 1965 & his short story is so devestating I recalled it graphically more than 30 years after I first read it. It uses the exact same premise of a televised war game replacing the real thing with there being only one survivor. In this story at least the soldiers are adults & trained soldiers but the finale is all the more devestating for that because Moudy pulls no punches. He is writing for adults & does not soften his blows. His final paragraphs still leave me reeling. His running commentary makes my blood run cold in a way The Hunger Games did not [~ perhaps because these futuristic personages looked liked they'd been costumed by the Mardi Gra experts & were impossible to take over seriously. ] No, I'm not going to give the ending away. Go read it for yourselves! But be warned: This one gave me nightmares!
Much to my surprise I actually really enjoyed The Hunger Games. What is far more disturbing is that about 300 000 child soldiers are engaged in over 30 world conflicts in our present generation. About 30% of those soldiers are girls. It beggars belief that we can actually do this to our children. The movie doesn't even come close to the reality. Why aren't people up in arms about that instead?