Film review: Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Becca Short reviews Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the first part of the finale of the Hunger Games trilogy was released on the 20th November. On its opening night, the Mockingjay made $55 million, a figure down from $67 million for The Hunger Games and $70 million for Catching Fire, but still an astonishing amount. At a time when so much of the media and popular culture is full of sexism, racism and classism it’s refreshing to see a trilogy about an over powerful state and revolution becoming so popular. Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is without a doubt one of strongest female characters around.

The media’s response to the popularity of the Hunger Games has been to make it all about the love interest between Katniss, Peeta and Gale. This completely misses the point of the film, which it is about the brutality of the Capitol, Katniss protecting her family and people trying to fight back and change the system. Ironically, our media do exactly what the Capitol do in the series: ignore what’s really going on and make it all about a girl looking for true love.

The Mockingjay Part 1 was disappointing. Splitting the book, which is only 450 pages, into two parts was definitely a mistake. It meant that the film was all build up and had no shape. It was clearly done just as a way to increase profits. However, I am really looking forward to Part 2, which will have much more of the action and despite the disappointment of this film, I still love the series as a whole.

There are 2 comments

  1. Andy Cunningham

    I think from the perspective of revolutionary politics, this film was better than the last two and better than the first half of the original book. As we get to Mockingjay, the long-awaited revolution in Panem is fully underway. Those who have worked for social change for years are finally confident enough to emerge from the shadows and declare an open war on the Capitol. In Collin’s book, this whole section is frustrating because she sees revolution extremely mechanically – a game of chess played by notables. So much of the story is about Snow directing his forces, just as Coin directs hers and manipulates Katniss (and through her, the movement in the Districts).

    I think the film deals with this is in a much more sophisticated way. There aren’t omnipotent leaderships on either side, directing events. Rather there are two groups, one the leadership of 13 fighting for control of Panem and for leadership of the revolution more generally and the other Snow – at first fighting for control of the Districts then worrying about challenges within the Capitol itself. What is crucial though is that those in the Districts act on their initiative – the attack in the forest, the attack on the dam represent actions carried out locally by revolutionary masses under their steam. Yes they are inspired by 13’s propaganda featuring Katniss’ Mockingjay but they aren’t directed by it. This is reflected in 13, where Coin and Heavensbee do not direct the movement but seek to influence it with ideas.

    I think this much more realistic approach to the revolutionary process is to be applauded and it looks to me that the directors and writers on the film have benefited from observing real revolutions in Syria and Egypt. As such, I think we have to be careful of dismissing this film. Sure, there is no District 13 out there who can help us and we are not fighting for ‘democracy’ as the film clunkily reduces Panem’s revolution to but this film is not a bad introduction to the way revolutions work for the millions that are going to view it worldwide. And although the decision to split the last film was indeed a profit-driven one, the end result has been more room to watch that unfolding process on the screen.

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  2. Rob Owen

    I tend to agree with what Andy says above but I thought one of the most interesting parts of the film was its portrayal of the protagnists as flawed individuals both shaping events and being effected by them.

    Seeing how the mental health of Katnis and Peeta (amongst others) is effected by the brutality of the Capitol and the combination of responsibility for but lack of control over events was genuinely quite moving at times.

    I’m also hoping (perhaps naively) that concluding part one at the point it does will allow the second part to explore the divisions between the population and ruling elite in the capitiol that become a feature of the later parts of the book. Having the capitiol as an undeveloped ‘enemy’ allowed the dynamic of the revolt in the districts and role of different individuals to be explored in a way that would have probably been lost if the film concluded with the battle for the Capitol.

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