This weekend I finally went to see this movie, one I'd been expecting since reading Suzanne Collin's trilogy. And I wasn't disappointed. The world I'd come to know from the books came alive before my eyes, as did the characters, and soon I found myself reacting to the story as if I ignored how it progressed – which means that the pace and tension were well calibrated. It felt as if the creators had been reading my mind, there was no jarring sensation brought by differences between the imagined and the filmed. So I'd rate the experience a very positive one indeed.
Since seeing the movie, though, I have been thinking about the power of television, and the way it can change our approach to the outside world: in the Hunger Games' dystopian society the public (at least in the Capitol) seems to focus on the event itself rather than its cruel implications. To enjoy the bloody sport of pitching human beings against each other. Contemporary spectators shudder at such unthinking cruelty, automatically condemning it – but are we really that different from the Capitol's jaded viewers?
What I mean is that – far from relishing other people's gory deaths – TV, and reality shows, seem to have inured us to pain and suffering, the medium of the screen giving the images a sort of remoteness that places real blood on the same level as a movie's special effects.
On TV there are many so-called reality programs that show footage of terrible accidents, or massive catastrophes: what shocks me, every time I happen to stumble on one of them, is that the horror of what is happening on screen is filtered through the lens of sensationalism, the need to present what is essentially a tragedy as something spectacular. To stress the entertainment value of the images, diminishing – or worse, ignoring – the human factors involved.
Which means that given the... proper direction probably we wouldn't react so differently from the Capitol citizens if, over a given period of time, we were to be presented with sacrificial victims as they have in Ms. Collins' fictional universe, if the spotlights were focused on the entertainment value of the proceedings, distracting us from its implications and consequences.
And it's not a comforting thought.
What do you think?