The Hunger Games was not the first film to imagine a sadistic, murderous reality TV show put on by a government to terrorise people. But unlike films such as Battle Royale, the Hunger Games series shows the people staging a revolution against that government. In Mockingjay: Part 1 Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has sparked an uprising of the working class against the terror and exploitation of the Capitol.
At the heart of the story is a love triangle: Katniss is torn between Gale, an ex-miner who’s dedicated to the revolution, and Peeta, who’s terrified of the danger and suffering, and trying to dampen things down. As a prisoner in the Capitol, he’s on TV parroting the government’s position that all rebel actions are “senseless” and “cruel” acts of violence.
We see the workers of the Districts rising up in very moving scenes, inspired by Katniss’ acts of defiance. We see a ragged army of factory-hands holding out under the bombs of the state, and workers sacrificing their lives just to deal a blow against the ruling class. The sense of incredible, harrowing self-sacrifice is very moving.
The film deals mostly with the propaganda war between District 13 and the government. A few more snapshots of the revolt unfolding in the Districts would have been welcome. The new trend towards splitting single films into two “parts” just to make more money, as in this case, is also annoying.
Mockingjay is a film for our times, full of powerful revolutionary images. Katniss and the Hunger Games films, like the Guy Fawkes masks from V for Vendetta, have the potential to become a symbol of revolution and defiance.