The third film of the wildly popular franchise, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” has a dark
and ferocious tone, making it increasingly explosive. As the franchise has matured, so has its
subject matter. The narrative is no longer about a girl who stood up for her little sister, but
instead about a young woman who stood against a tyrannical government and its leader.
Rescued from the horrors of the Quarter Quell, the film opens, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer
Lawrence) in District 13, a world she’d previously thought destroyed by President Snow (Donald
Sutherland) and the Capitol. And yet, despite being forced into hiding, District 13 and its citizens
have not only survived, but thrived. It’s a well-ordered society; led brilliantly and meticulously
by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). Without excess or frivolity, District 13 contrasts
sharply with the over-saturated colors and superfluous settings of the Capitol.
So unlike the lush greenery and vast wildlife that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the
previous films, District 13 is gray and muted. The rigid order of living underground, along with
the confining walls and tunnels of District 13 provide the perfect prison-like backdrop for
Katniss’ uncertainty and uneasiness.
As Katniss battles with her ongoing depression, she finds herself unable to connect with those
around her. She is constantly at the very edge of her sanity, unsure about her decisions and those
of the people surrounding her; especially without Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who has been a
constant presence in her life since the beginning of The Games. Katniss’ sister, Primrose
(Willow Shields) is the only one that seems to be able to breakthrough to her. Realizing that
Katniss is in the position to make requests, since District 13 is counting on her to become the
Mockingjay, Primrose convinces her to demand that Peeta be rescued from the Capitol.
This film is not at all the action-packed thriller that we’ve become accustomed to in this
franchise. Instead, it’s a slow progression; a psychological analysis of Katniss as she struggles to
become the symbol of a revolution. Continually mistrusting of those around her, terrorized by
President Snow, and manipulated by President Coin, Katniss is obviously a pawn in a much
larger game; one she is not sure that she’s willing to play any longer. The residents of District 13
are unsure of what to make of her. President Coin’s right hand man, Boggs (Mahershala Ali) is
skeptical of Katniss immediately, and remains uncertain that she is the right person to lead the
revolution. Torn between her conscience and the people of Panem, Katniss also finds herself stuck
between her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the boy she’s grown to love, Peeta.
Director Francis Lawrence, beautifully constructs a war film around a major facet of war and
revolution: propaganda. After all, how are leaders of revolution born, if not for the way in which
they captivate and mobilize their followers?
Jennifer Lawrence has never been better. She excels
at expressing the trauma, grief and desperation of a reluctant leader; a young woman
manipulated again and again by her circumstances.
The third installment of “The Hunger Games” franchise is extremely gloomy, providing the
audience with only small moments of comedic reprieve from the late Phillips Seymour Hoffman
as Plutarch Heavensbee, and the vivacious Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket. Though the film is
geared toward young adults, it refuses to shy away from the gruesome and horrific images of
war. This is certainly a film adults can get into. The explosions, propaganda techniques, and
unrest are a reminder of a history not entirely out of reach; a world and society all too realistic
for many living today.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” is out in theaters this Friday, November 21.
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her
thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a
Black Cinema geek and blogger. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.co or
tweet her @midnightrami