O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Surprising Chastity and Selflessness in "The Hunger Games"

I recently had the pleasure to watch "The Hunger Games" (the first movie in the series). Being a fan of gladiator-style tournaments, this movie was pretty enjoyable and fun to watch. The surprising amount of chastity in the movie made it even better. Males will be the ones most drawn to such movies, so the chaste and selfless overtones are very encouraging. St. Joseph randomly comes to mind. First, the basic idea of the series: The series of movies (and the series of novels they are based on) revolve around the "Hunger Games", a futuristic gladiator tournament that focuses on surviving in the wilderness. It is used by a powerful city to oppress its suburbs. It is contested annually by 24 youths, aged 12-18, chosen by lot, two from each of the 12 districts (one male and one female), with the last surviving competitor declared the winner. They need to deal with threats from nature as much as each other. All the carnage is on live TV for the entertainment of the Capitol, with the broadcasts in the suburbs being largely so they can watch their own children die. The propaganda of the dictatorial government plays it up as a chance for glory, when in practice it's an excuse to kill 23 children from the suburbs by lot. The winner almost always comes from one of the more well to do districts, with those districts getting preferential treatment from the dictatorship, to the point of letting them train illegally and then they volunteer to represent their district.

The main character is Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, the most impoverished of all the districts. In the opening minutes of the movie, the filmmakers have a golden opportunity for a completely needless nude scene as Katniss takes a bath in a cheap metal tub much too small for a girl her age, but the filmmakers go blatantly out of their way to avoid showing even the slightest nudity during the scene, which is most commendable and rare in Hollywood these days. You see hardly anything beyond a foot and a shoulder. At the same time, there was a constant temptation to show a competitor relieving himself or washing during the long time they were in the wilderness and those possibilities were avoided as well.

The selflessness of Katniss is a major theme as her younger sister, much too weak to survive the Games, is chosen as the female "tribute" (competitor) from District 12 and Katniss immediately volunteers to take her sister's place, doubtlessly saving her life. This selfless attitude is continued later in the Games with the female tribute from District 11 (the second poorest district), herself too small for the Games, mutually helping Katniss survive, and Katniss accepts this girl as a younger sister, partly because she is so similar to her real sister.

The male tribute from the slums of District 12 is Peeta Mellark, who has a crush on Katniss, but she isn't interested in him at the outset. Romance does develop between them and is a main plotline, but the chastity of the relationship is what is so remarkable in this movie. The romance is not fast-developing and based on passion like sinful relationships, but rather slow-developing, with Katniss initially disinterested and hating Peeta. The content and purpose of the relationship is not to enjoy life and pursue physical or emotional pleasure like sinful relationships, but rather to support each other and keep each other alive, even to the point of each wanting to give up needed medicine to treat the wounds of the other (they end up each getting their way and treating each other's wounds). There is no intimacy between them beyond kisses (despite being secluded in the woods together for long periods of time), with those kisses being few and far between, only on the face, and only one per session. It is amazing and very laudable how chaste and virtuous their relationship is: they don't care about having a good time or being happy, they are in it to help each other and keep each other alive; their relationship develops slowly, not fast like passion based relationships; and they share very little intimacy, if it can even be called "intimacy". Combine this with the selflessness of Katniss towards her sister and her adopted sister, no perverted sexuality or erotic content or vulgar language in the movie, and the subtle fact that competitors are chosen in pairs, one male and one female, and you have an excellent movie. The fact that the weak shame the strong (in the social struggle between the districts and the Capitol) isn't bad either.