Mockingjay Part 1: A little too close to home?

I went to see the latest instalment of the Hunger Games series on Wednesday. Pretty wiped out after work and life in general, I was grateful for the free ticket and popcorn (thanks housemate, Orange and O2!). We only had crappy seats at the front of the screen left to choose from since it was unsurprisingly busy that evening; however, being the rebel that I am I ushered my housemate to sit with me in the centre of the premier seats. Yes that’s right, we had the best view in the house :D. I was famished so basically inhaled my popcorn like a Dyson during the adverts whilst ignoring the guilty squeals from my housemate about getting caught for sitting in the wrong seats. I couldn’t really remember what happened in Catching Fire apart from the fact I had enjoyed the action and watched it with my mate Tom (I think).

Let the revolution begin.
Let the revolution begin.

The start to Mockingjay Part 1 was somewhat slow but the fact that Gale was receiving a lot more screen time was a bonus. Familiar faces return but there is very little action throughout, although the underlying triad of questions surrounding truth, power and entertainment remain. The movie opens with Katniss in the care of the rebels in District 13 who want her to be the face of the revolution. Plutarch and President Coin convince her to join their cause and form a series of propaganda videos to rally the other districts to rise up against the Capitol and its fascist dictator President Snow. And all the while look pretty whilst doing it.

I don't do much in this movie but stand around and look like I've just eaten a burger.
I woke up like this.

The team try and fail to manufacture an emotionally gut-wrenching video that would make the inhabitants of the Districts connect with Katniss and the revolution, so they decide to drop her in the ‘field’ to record something more affective. When Katniss goes back to District 12 to record a video of Snow’s destruction, I all of a sudden, and most unexpectedly, started to feel very emotional and teary. We witness Katniss descending from this helicopter/war plane (or whatever it is) to a pile of rubble, death and a tangible sense of devastation. Complete annihilation is palpable. Why did I suddenly choke up? Because the scene in the movie looked exactly like the scenes that I had witnessed on TV a few months ago when Palestinians and their homes were bombed mercilessly. Again, I felt queasy after Katniss visited a hospital full of injured and ill patients before it was subsequently bombed and set alight by the Capitol’s minions. This reminded me of when Israel unapologetically bombed several hospitals in Gaza. Lives were destroyed without a second thought and politics as usual bowed to power and propaganda. Align Palestinians with those of District 12 and 13 and Israel to the Capitol. The parallels are uncanny. This is what life under occupation is like, if not worse. Do we call the individuals of District 12 and 13 terrorists or victors of a justified revolution? Are they violent usurpers or freedom fighters? The multiple districts and the divide between the rich and the poor and their varying autonomy present a microcosm of the world and the inherently unequal society we live in. This may be why the Hunger Games is so easy to relate to; as fantastical as it may be appear to be on screen and gadgetry, for me, it was a little too close to home, and I left the cinema feeling even more forlorn than when I had entered.

The destruction of District 12.
The destruction of District 12.

The themes of crimes against humanity, coercive control, and how civilisation historically and presently, continues to organise itself hierarchically, stayed on the periphery of my mind throughout the movie, although the fat ginger cat provided comic relief at certain points (mostly because it made me think of Tom and his adopted three-legged cat, Baby Trifle). Overall, I didn’t really understand Katniss’s obsession with saving Peeta (there’s literally more chemistry between me and a bag of Ready Salted Crisps), although fascist Snow sums this up aptly: “It’s the things we love the most, that destroy us.” I have indeed been battling with my love of eating Ready Salted Crisps for years. Personally, I think she’s probably gravitating towards Peeta because Gale is so readily available- at one point he makes some needy comments like “You only notice me when I’m in pain.” Katniss kisses him and then continues to ignore him lol. Mockingjay Part 1 is distinctly lacking the action that Katniss provided as lead heroin in the previous movies; this is most likely due to Mockingjay being split into two (quite obviously for commercial rather than creative reasons), and most of the time it seems like she’s just standing around making sad faces (although convincingly so). Giving it a rating of 4 stars (out of 5) anyway because it reignited some of my passion for politics, which I have been trying to put to bed for a while and because I didn’t fall asleep whilst watching it. Which is always a pleasant surprise.

"If we burn, you burn with us.'
“If we burn, you burn with us.”

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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