The Hunger Games series (which will end this fall with Mockingjay Part 2) are a collection of action movies, visual adaptations of a young adult novels, and -- some would say -- a bunch of popcorn flicks (as in, there's nothing more to them but action and special effects). While those things can all be considered true, The Hunger Games (the films anyway, I haven't read the books at all) series also deals with government power/control, the idea of revolution, and it can also be argued that each film reflects the state of our country. And all of these images and ideas contribute to our collective consciousness.
Now, as a disclaimer, I haven't read the books so I don't know how the series ends and I'll find out when Mockingjay Part 2 comes out. So, I'll only be using examples from the movies.
The Hunger Games
One of the most powerful scenes in the first film in the series is the riot that occurs in District 11 after Rue's death. At this moment, the ramifications of the actual Hunger Games become a reality for both Katniss and the audience. The scene is important because within the world of the film, it represents the first act of rebellion against The Capitol by any of the Districts. It's a visual representation of how certain Districts feel about The Capitol and the Hunger Games.
It's also extremely gripping because these images -- and even the narrative of the scene -- reflect what has been going on in the United States. The impulse, the reaction, and the action that occurs in this scene is fucking chilling after recent events because we -- the audience outside of the theater -- has been watching this on the news. It's a reflection of the world we currently live in.
The second movie in the series has one purpose. It's a bleak reminder to Katniss and the characters that have endured and survived the previous Hunger Games that they don't have control of their lives. That The Capitol is still in control and even at the end of the movie (above) that's still the case.
Even when Katniss believes that she has escaped and joined the "revolution" she finds out that District 12, where she had grown up had been destroyed. Another reaction from The Capitol to show how far their power actually extends. Right when we -- the audience -- feel a moment of triumph the film takes that away from us and puts us in the same emotional state that Katniss finds herself in at the end of the film.
Mockingjay Part 1
The first part to the finale of The Hunger Games series is the most interesting to me. As I stated earlier, The Capitol has been the symbol of power throughout most of the series' narrative. It's The Capitol that is in control of the Hunger Games, it's The Capitol that destroys District 12, and it's The Capitol that kidnaps Peeta. And, yes, their presence still exists in this installment but the characters who have power in relation to Katniss are different.
At the end of the previous movie, we learn that Katniss is with "the Revolution" now. Most of the narrative of this film surrounds grooming Katniss into the perfect revolutionary leader. And in a way, she still doesn't have control over her decisions the way she wants to. By spending two movies painting The Capitol as the controlling figure in the films, it comes off as a little shocking when Katniss is still being told what to do even when she's "free" from The Capitol.
Mockingjay Part 2
Since this movie hasn't come out yet (it's slated for a November release date), I can't really speak on the content of the film but I what I can do is analyze the images/dialogue and how they fit into our collective consciousness.
The trailer is framed in the idea of an uprising and we see this through the shots of Katniss walking in the capitol with her "army" behind her. Her voice over says she can't give another speech about it and that she has to do something about it. She even goes so far to say "turn your weapons to The Capitol".
These words and images in the trailer enter our subconscious minds and we can easily apply them to the way we feel about politics -- no matter what side of the fence one lands on. The images within this trailer and these films act on something that's within all of us. We -- the general "we" -- will always feel unhappy with the powers that "control" us and at times we will feel like we should do something about it.
The Hunger Games series acts on these feelings. They remind us that if we are upset with something in our society it's okay to stand up and do something about it. But at the same time, they also subdue these feelings.
By showing us these images on-screen, we never really feel that we have to act on them. We lived through the revolution with Katniss even though we didn't lift a finger. We know what it's like to lose someone even though that "someone" is a fictional character. We wrap ourselves up in narratives instead of actual issues.
The Hunger Games series does, yes, remind us of all of the things I mentioned earlier. But one of the greatest things the series does is remind us that we live in The Capitol. Shortly after Mockingjay Part 1 came out, I started to hear the song above played on every radio station. Before I saw the movie, I didn't really think anything of it. I assumed it was just another dance song.
But the truth was -- and is -- that it's a remix of a song that Katniss sings that ends up becoming a war cry for the revolution. It accompanies one of the more powerful scenes in Mockingjay Part 1 (above).
A song that -- within the context of the film -- should remind us of dissidence and dissatisfaction with the powers at be had been remixed by powers above us -- the general us -- in a way that makes us forget what the song is actually associated with. After watching three of these movies over the past couple of years, the remix itself, the way it was constantly played on the radio, and in clubs/bars reminds me of something The Capitol would do.
Now, I know I said a lot about these movies and I'm not sure if I could cover everything I want to in one card but I think it's up to us (the audience) to decide how we let these movies affect us, be it positively or negatively.
And I know there's a lot in these movies that can be talked about, so if you feel like I missed anything big, let me know.