In the age old tale of good versus evil, the final instalment of The Hunger Games trilogy (Mockingjay, part two) doesn’t disappoint. This story is rife with revolution and revolt, power returning to the previously powerless, the oppressed rising up against their cruel oppressors, and the uniting and restorative power of hope.
These are familiar tales and themes from our history books, our fairy tales, from our current events. What distinguishes this film and makes it so damn compelling is the representation of the uprising.
What some may call a “slow burn” actually makes for a plausible uniting of different peoples (from the various districts of Panem). The start of the uprising and the call to action begins in the first part of Mockingjay, but by the time that we catch up with Katniss Everdeen (played superbly by Jennifer Lawrence), she’s struggling with the man and weapon that Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) has become at the deadly hands of President Snow himself.
Even though the Capitol hides many sins in its entitlement, gluttony, lack of consideration for the less fortunate, and exceedingly materialistic attitudes, the real villains of this whole enterprise are President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his vile Gamemakers. Snow uses murder and mayhem as his own sick sport, and there seems to be no stopping him until Katniss becomes our unlikely and reluctant heroine. Over and over in this film, and indeed in this series, do we see the enduring nature of the human spirit and the capacity for connection, even amongst dreadful trauma and horror.
During one particularly tense scene when Katniss is at gunpoint, we see the power of a common enemy to unite even those who were fighting each other to death only moments ago. In Katniss’ rousing and uniting words, we hear her call to action: “We all have one enemy! He corrupts everyone, and everything! He turns the best of us against each other. Tonight, turn your weapons, to the capital! Turn your weapons, to Snow!”
The story of the cruel and unjust dictator who controls people through fear and their own weaknesses is not an unfamiliar one. And President Snow is certainly no exception. He exploited Katniss’ care and love for Peeta while he kept him hostage and brutally tortured and brainwashed him until there was almost none of the original kind, gentle, and caring Peeta left. Power itself may not be inherently good or bad, but power, in the wrong hands, can most certainly be used for malicious and nefarious purposes.
It may only start with one voice, but after a civilisation has faced so much fear, control, exploitation, oppression, and cruelty, it doesn’t take much to turn the tide of revolution and take back the power for the purposes of good.
So, how does a young adult book and film franchise translate to our world at large? It’s every individual’s interpretation, of course, but I found it to be a quite an interesting look at the trajectory of corruption, revolution, and hope.
As long as one person is willing to stand for what is right and just in this world, more are likely to follow. And with that push for justice, comes the shining example of human connection and the enduring nature of the human spirit to rise up again and again against adversity and view each day with renewed resilience and hope. If nothing else is taken from this film, this book, or even this review, it should be this: we could all use a little more heroism in our day-to-day. It doesn’t have to be saving the world from an evil dictator or saving New York City from an alien spaceship, but remembering that genuine human connection is the biggest and best weapon we have against those who would seek to break it and ill-use it.