Mockingjay, Part 1 asks teens to tackle harsh realities

by Emily Whitten
Posted 11/21/14, 12:13 pm

Trailers for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 show hero Katniss Everdeen as a kind of modern Joan of Arc. Dressed all in black, she’s a warrior princess leading the charge against the Capitol and evil President Snow.  

But that’s not how the film starts. Instead, viewers first meet Katniss in weakness, suffering from post-traumatic stress and hiding in an air vent in District 13. This movie picks up where the last one left off. Katniss was rescued by District 13 rebels, but the rebels weren’t able to rescue her Hunger Games teammate, Peeta. Now a victim of torture, Peeta has become the Capitol’s voice for propaganda against the rebels. Only after the rebel leader, President Coin, agrees to rescue Peeta as soon as possible does Katniss resume fighting against the Capitol.

But the alliance between Katniss and President Coin is shaky from the start. Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Katniss, explains, “President Coin and Katniss’ relationship is very complicated because Katniss knows that she should trust President Coin, but for whatever reason, she doesn’t.”

Katniss feels unsure about the propaganda Coin asks her to make. She knows that, in reality, she’s no Joan of Arc. Like all of us, she has moments of strength, but she’s often just a scared teenage girl.

Parents will appreciate how clean the romantic story in the books and movies is. The movies so far have earned PG-13 ratings, meaning they are free of sex scenes and foul language, among other things. But they still merit some cautions.

Mockingjay is certainly the darkest film so far in the Hunger Games saga. As Katniss lives through the beginnings of war, she witnesses hospitals being bombed. One friend wishes aloud for death. The movie isn’t as gruesome as many adult war movies, but it is disturbing and very intense.

By the final scenes of Mockingjay, Katniss has become, on some level, the leader the rebels want her to be. But where is it all going? And how is Katniss’ story going to end?

That may be the most important question, especially for Christians. According to Donald Sutherland, who plays President Snow, there is some hope that the Hunger Games films will have an ending with a positive message. “When I read the first script, and then the books, the relevance was very, very important to me, that it be able to reach out to young people and embed that change was essential, but it was also possible and that it was up to them,” Sutherland said.

Whether or not Katniss gets a good ending next November, when the final movie in the series comes out, Christians can still appreciate this movie on at least one level. We see in Katniss a struggle that has already been won for us.

Listen to Emily Whitten’s review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part1 on The World and Everything in It:

Emily Whitten

Emily is a book critic and writer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and University of Mississippi graduate, previously worked at Peachtree Publishers, and developed a mother's heart for good stories over a decade of homeschooling. Emily resides with her family in Nashville, Tenn. Follow her on Twitter @emilyawhitten.

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