I see that, after all this time, my articles on Capitalism, Communism, and the Hunger Games are still receiving many hits every day.
Perhaps it would be best for my (spoiler free!) review of Mockingjay Part 1 to include some mentions of contemporary issues, as our times are certainly intriguing, from a historical perspective.
However, first should come my impression of the movie, which is that it is good. Really good. That said, it is not quite as good as Catching Fire was. Frankly, I don’t recall what I said specifically in my review of Catching Fire, but I do remember falling in love with it the second time through, having only found satisfaction from my first viewing.
Mockingjay Part 1 is darker. Not just in visual styling, which is necessary considering the bulk of it takes place underground. The tone of the film is darker, perhaps matched only by the incredible shadowing around Peeta’s eyes. Excellent acting by Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. Liam Hemsworth finally receives the screen time that was precluded by the forced absence of his character. Stellar performance on a role that’s hard to sell, (made even more complex in delivery by the popularity of Suzanne Collins’ final Hunger Games novel).
As before, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson provide much-needed comic relief, developing their characters more fully than ever. And yet, those moments of humor quickly sink beneath a sea of despair, as the movie tracks very closely with the savagely-dramatic plot in Mockingjay.
Which is not to say that it is too dark. Only that it matches the circumstances as they play out. Perhaps Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death during filming brings some of the anguish of Mockingjay Part 1 into the real world. The film is dedicated to him, and may his soul rest in peace.
All told though, few (perhaps none) going into the theaters tonight were unaware of the plot, and so were ready to embrace a darker film. Mockingjay Part 2 (barring any rewrite for audience expansion [God forbid it!]) is sure to be even bleaker.
Mockingjay Part 1 is a fantastic continuation of the story, and when the film manages to bring some sunlight to the scene, it really splashes wonderfully amidst the ashes and piles of concrete. Solid film that sets up the potential for a powerful finish to this saga. I hold no illusions that people who are not going already, will see Mockingjay Part 1 because I recommend it. But if such a person exists, go see this film already!
Now, Mockingjay Part 1 takes place in a different world from the first two movies. When rebellion gets under way and experiences some success, there cannot but be a confusing arrangement of things between all parties concerned.
I’m saying that the politics in Mockingjay Part 1 are not involved nearly so heavily now. The chessboard tactics to manipulate enemies are ever-present, but not the maintenance of one people at the expense of others. Under threat, those with power will do whatever is necessary to keep it, and those who want to abolish it (or steal it) will likely act similarly.
Which brings us to a very clear point: no system can exist where good men are given sweeping authority to control the lives of all others. By definition, a man cannot be good and dictate to the rest of the people. Similarly, no council of men can unite goodness with absolute authority as well.
Absolute authority is not for man, but for Another, and He already has it. He only loans out temporary authority to man, because He created Free Will.
If we are to take lessons away from The Hunger Games, we would be best to understand the profound value of checks and balances, statutory limitations of authority, and local autonomy. There need not be a war, nor revolution if the Capitol and Snow would have just left the hard working people of Panem to produce and sell as they please.
The Capitol would have had to pay for everything, sure, and that might cost a bit more money. But there would have been no need to shoulder the burden of a Peacekeeper force to maintain strict control over the districts. Imagine the bureaucratic costs of recruiting, training, arming, deploying, and enforcing all of the will of the Capitol! If all of those funds could be forgone, the districts would happily produce and sell and buy. All would become richer by each transaction. That’s how free markets work; the parties involved in each transaction make each other happy, otherwise the deal is not made.
Perhaps you see the wrench in the gears of this peaceful-coexistence theory. Would President Snow have allowed tyranny to be phased out, even to bring forward a vastly-superior mode of production and distribution? No, of course not!
Why not? Because the equal distribution of personal freedom would thoroughly vanquish Snow’s totalitarian authority. If he can twist the entire nation into giving him the power and prestige he desires, the rest of the nation must suffer for the vanity of one man.
And so revolution must be had.
Who among us today can trust that the will of the people is heard in the hallowed halls of our own Capitol building? Of the offices at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Make no mistake, I am not stating that we’ve come to the point of Panem. No, certainly not. For we still have, and exercise, the vote, and in part that exercise has a result. Those who pay close attention can see that.
How often though, is that exercise flatly ignored and rejected as mere tradition? Are we a nation which has laws, under which all men are equal? Or are we a nation which is to endow good men with ultimate power?
And by endowment of ultimate power, we steal away the goodness of those men, and make the greatest bait for those of the lowest repute!
No, my friends! Good government is that which governs least, and good people are those who need least governing!
No one would say that Panem would be better off with the Mockingjay granted President Snow’s office and authority. Katniss Everdeen has at least enough understanding of power to know that she could not assume that place without becoming the very blood-breathing, vile creature she hates.
This is why she kills President Coin at the end of Mockingjay. She sees another person taking authority who, by virtue of accepting such tyranny, is undeserving of having any power whatsoever!
Let us, in America and around the world, learn the lessons of tyranny before it takes bloodshed to hack away the bonds that must accompany it.
And go see Mockingjay Part 1!