“The Hunger Games” follows the inspiring journey of Katniss Everdeen, a young woman who rises from the ashes of persecution to become the Girl on Fire and save her sister from inevitable death in the Hunger Games when she volunteers to become Tribute in her sister’s place.
One of the things that makes Katniss memorable as a character is that in spite of everything, she does not surrender to the intimidation or expectations of a higher power. Although she undergoes a massive physical transformation when she is presented at the Capitol as the glorified Tribute, the essence of what defines her moral character – her compassion – remains unchanged. From the beginning, Katniss demonstrates an unwavering determination to protect her innocent, younger sister, Prim, from the ominous brutality of the Capitol. Her compassion is likewise what makes Katniss stand out once she is in the arena. She shows mercy to Rue by choosing not to kill her, but rather to protect her. When Rue is killed by the other Tributes, instead of abandoning Rue to accept her fate alone, Katniss comforts her in her final moments and gives the child the honor of being able to die in peace. Her compassion is also demonstrated when she finds Peeta and cares for him in the arena rather than killing him in order to ensure her own survival. Her compassion towards Peeta closes the circle of mercy which began when Peeta saved Katniss as a child by giving her bread to save her from starvation.
Sacrifice is a theme which is illustrated in “The Hunger Games” in both a positive and a negative light. Sacrifice is demonstrated in the power that the Capitol and President Snow wields by forcing the districts to sacrifice their children as Tributes in the Hunger Games every year. When her sister, Prim, is chosen as the female tribute for the Hunger Games, Katniss makes the ultimate sacrifice by becoming Tribute in order to save her sister from the Hunger Games, even though this meant inevitable death for Katniss, herself. When Katniss and Peeta discover that they are the last surviving Tributes in the Hunger Games, but that one of them must still perish in order to fulfill the cruel design of the Hunger Games, they decide to sacrifice their lives in the name of love rather than surrender to the totalitarian rule of the Capitol.
There is a strong symbolic significance found in the Mockingjay pin which ties Katniss to her sister Prim and Rue, her unlikely ally in the Hunger Games. When they are being summoned to the Reaping to establish who the Hunger Game Tributes are, Katniss gives Prim the Mockingjay pin to protect her from the dark brutality of the Capitol. When Katniss volunteers to become Tribute in her sister’s place, Prim returns the Mockingjay Pin to Katniss to protect her in the arena. When Katniss is preparing to enter the arena, her stylist, Cinna, discovers that she is wearing the Mockingjay pin, but he keeps her secret and does not reveal her token to the Game Makers. This is another demonstration of the role the Mockingjay plays in protecting Katniss. While it is not directly related to the pin, Katniss and Rue, the small child who becomes her ally and friend in the arena, use the real Mockingjay’s song as a means of communicating to each other that they are safe. When Katniss and Peeta are being crowned the winners of the Hunger Games, President Snow discovers the pin on Katniss’s dress. The pin ultimately becomes the catalyst which symbolizes Katniss’s role as the Mockingjay – a strong and fearless warrior whose determination to live and not merely survive is not to be taken lightly.
“The Hunger Games” is a powerful film that combines an intriguing and well-portrayed story with an exceptional cast and a unique design that will leave the viewer riveted from start to finish. While the brutality of the film leaves an uncomfortable first impression and may not be suitable for young children, the strength of the underlying message makes this film a worthy addition to any movie collection.