“The Hunger Games” may very well end up being the science fiction film of the decade.
This was surprising to me.
Most young adult literature and films are designed around wish-fulfillment and simple fantasy. Having magic powers. Space travel. Mega-hot boyfriend who never ages.
But “The Hunger Games”, at least as a film, turns on much of these concepts and creates something that is deeper, darker and angrier.
For starters, Katniss Everdeen, as played by the rapturous Jennifer Lawrence, is an authentic feminist icon, a welcome-relief from four years of Twilight’s idiocy and misogyny.
But more than that, “Games” is Social Revolution 101 for children, an examination and commentation on the way that dissent and revolution form in the minds of a people. The film clearly and cleverly illustrates the frission between the 1 percent and and the 99 percent without once calling attention to this metaphor.
And more than THAT, the film makes the argument that change and revolution come not from violence and hate but through love and compassion.
Katniss enters the games believing that it will be her hunting that will save her, but instead it is her capacity for love and kindness towards her competitors that gives her the upper hand.
And in the outside world, it is watching Katniss halt the game to show respect and honor to a fallen child that makes the populace awake from the fog of subjugation and explode into revolution. Small gestures of humanity in the worst possible situation, and that is what brings out the fire of change.
Which brings us back to the notion of this film being an early contender for Science Fiction Film of the Decade.
After all, Time’s Man of the Year this past year was the image of The Protestor, and that makes Hunger Games uniquely relevant to this day and age.
That’s what fiction, especially genre fiction like fantasy or science fiction, is capable of doing, something that nonfiction can only hope to do: to inspire and inform on a deep, emotional level that translates on an unconscious level.
By creating fully realized characters and by leading the viewer to conclusions via visual design and editing, director Gary Ross is able to speak to viewers young and old.
That’s what fiction should do, but so frequently gets caught in chasing marketing trends. Fiction should make you laugh, cry, fear and love and walk away a stronger person ready to change the world.