Suzanne Collins’ book The Hunger Games is wildly popular, and now fans can watch the movie adaptation. Along with its popularity has come a discussion of whether or not it’s too violent, since a large part of the plot deals with children being forced to kill each other in a dystopian world.
The main plot of The Hunger Games, both the book and the movie, centers on Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old who volunteers to enter the Games in place of her twelve-year-old sister. Two tributes, a boy and a girl, are chosen from each district and they have to fight each other until there is only one survivor. While the adaptation is fundamentally true to the book, there are important things left out or glossed over, such as the internal conflict the main characters go through when faced with their part in the Games. However, the violence is treated with relative taste and discretion.
The Hunger Games is an interesting change from the Twilight movies (some people have compared the two, based on the popularity of both) which certainly have violent moments, plus a lack of character development. Another plus for The Hunger Games is Jennifer Lawrence, who shines as Katniss–she’s fierce, vulnerable, believable, and conflicted. Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, on the other hand, struggles to show a range of emotions without over-acting.
The violence in The Hunger Games does bother some people, but it’s not a new phenomenon. It seems that a book like Lord of the Flies–which deals with the violence children perpetrate toward each other when unsupervised–must not be required reading anymore, which it should be. Sometimes the strongest deterrent to violent behavior is an accurate illustration of where violent behavior takes the perpetrator. So at the least, The Hunger Games can serve as a way to engage young people in a discussion of violence, totalitarian rule, and morality.
If you don’t like dystopian stories or futuristic science-fiction, or if you prefer when girls wear corsets and have a fainting couch nearby, you probably won’t like this movie. If you’re interested in seeing how teenagers have to deal with a situation they’re forced into, one they feel they have no way out of, you will probably enjoy this movie. And it’s gotten people talking about some interesting issues!