Today I went to the midnight screening of the final installment of The Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two.
It’s safe to say I was hooked on the books, written by Suzanne Collins, that hit the shelves in 2008. It is a dystopian tale about a young girl called Katniss Everdeen taking her sister Primrose’s place in The Hunger Games, a blood sport looking at the survival of the fittest, with a male and female tribute across 12 Districts in the nation of Panem, North America.
After her success in winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss becomes the Mockingjay. She is now the face of the revolution between the Districts of slaves and the opulent and greedy population of The Capitol, ruled by President Snow. Throughout the narrative, the Rebels fighting for the revolution become stronger, and thousands of lives are lost, be it soldiers or civilians.
I’m not sure if it was because I read the final instalment of the trilogy over five years ago and I’ve grown up a lot since then, or the fact that the conflict in the Middle East is constantly saturating social media and the news (as it should), but when I sat there and saw the horrors of ruthless bloodshed, violence, and fear that Francis Lawrence had brought to life from words on the page, I felt incredibly uncomfortable.
Homes were destroyed, parents, siblings and children were stolen from loved ones, and people were tortured all in the name of an uprising to get to a desired way of life.
I know it’s just a film and not at all realistic due to the lack of blood and the body parts that would have inevitably been strewn everywhere following explosions and shootings. I know that it isn’t real due to the fact that Katniss seems to survive every blast and bullet aimed her way. But seeing characters unable to sleep due to the fear of the unknown and the trauma of what they’d already been through struck a chord.
I ache for the families that are actually going through an incredibly real conflict right now. I ache for the children who have lost their parents in the hell that is going across the globe as we speak. So many of us are in an incredibly fortunate position, as our only experience to date with conflict is what we’ve viewed on screen.
I won’t spoil too much of the ending, but the story concludes with Plutarch Heavensbee writing:
“Now we’re in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated. But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”
Hearing this, I winced. Because it’s true. War is nothing new to us. Putting innocent lives repeatedly through nightmares of an existence is something the human race never seems to learn from. And I realise I’m comparing a fiction to reality, but seeing Mockingjay Part 2 depict this struggle so completely made me realise just how tentative the line between peace and war really is.