The Treatment by Comparison is Unavoidable
Entire Film shot in North Carolina
The hugely popular film, "The Hunger Games," by virtue alone of its unavoidable comparison to the recently completed titular series of novels, by Suzanne Collins, and other memorable films by cinematic directors of high standing, may have unduly influenced the opinion of many, who might have otherwise formed an unbiased opinion. I endeavored to accomplish this, as is my practice in reviews, and I hope to have succeeded; however, I too may have fallen prey to comparisons, unfair or not.
My wife and youngest daughter read the first Suzanne Collins novel, and they immediately formed an opinion of the film, by comparison to their "silver screen" experience. I have not read that first book in Collins's "The Hunger Games" trilogy; however, I have watched many films that have a similar theme of systematic killing for community entertainment juxtaposed against the underlying systemic decay of societal structure, most notable of which, is the inarguable film classic, "Gladiator." The 1959 classic "Ben Hur" is less allegorically similar, but a fair comparison nonetheless.
And that is what futuristic society, 200 years hence did: Make comparisons, for critical review, to ultimately devise the clear winner, and thereby champion those results - the winners over the losers, vile in the ultimate violence of battle. A callous community bearing witness of the struggling survivors, whom offer to these decadent spectators some semblance of a repetitive hope of an improved situation, if only by vicarious proxy.
For those of you who did not read the book, and those who have not yet seen this movie, this unsettled, inhospitable world inherited by this film's heroine, Katnis Everdeen, is the remnants of total war, and then open rebellion. In the aftermath of the war and rebellion, the United States, Canada, Mexico and assorted Central American counties ceased to exist in their former state, and in time were aggregated into one nation known as the aforementioned Panem. In Panem, there were created 12 districts (13 original districts if you read the book), with little societal parity, with the individual districts in league with the wealthier and most decadent Capitol of Panem.
Was the Capitol controlled Panem as debased to the point of the last days of the Roman Empire? It was hard to tell from the film; however, they were governed in a similar manner, and in some measure, these governed people, especially within the confines of the Capitol, acted accordingly.
Not unlike the misguidedly decadent times during the reign of the bloodthirsty Roman Emperor Commodus, 180 AD to 192 AD, on whom the antagonist of the classic film, "Gladiator," is loosely based: The Gladiatorial-like combat of the Tributes, assembled in the Capitol to fight to their death in the Hunger Games, were employed as surrogate pawns to both placate and control the people en masse in the Capitol, and the outlying districts. The games, with their arbitrary rules leading up to the combat, and within the fighting-to-the-death phase, were the measured controls of a ruling body that sought to exact the remaining strains of liberty from these contestants, but moreover, to use the symbol of the games to both restrain and mostly demoralized their native people. These imperial subjects, whose children were reaped as Tributes to participate in the barbaric 74th annual Hunger Games, knew both hope, but mostly fear in measured doses, and like a mistreated but obedient yard dog, were taught to know their place.
President Snow (welcoming the masses to and explaining the Hunger Games): "And it was decreed that each year, the 12 districts of Panem should offer up a tribute of one young man and woman between the ages of 12 and 18 to be trained in the art of survival and to be prepared to fight to the death."
President Snow (explaining the political reasoning of the Hunger Games): "Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it's contained."