By Don Simpson | November 21, 2014
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writers: Peter Craig (screenplay), Danny Strong (screenplay), Suzanne Collins (novel)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer
Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 transforms Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) from a pawn of the bourgeoisie into a pawn of the revolution; from reality television heroine to spokesperson for revolutionary propaganda pieces. She finds herself doing precisely what her commanders tell her to do. She is forced into armed warfare that she does not wholeheartedly agree with. The difference this time is that it is a woman — President Coin (Julianne Moore) — who pressures her into one dangerous situation after the next. Whereas Katniss once risked her life for television ratings, she is now coerced into becoming the figurehead for a seemingly hopeless working class revolution. Essentially, Katniss falls prey to a different type of propaganda machine, once again led by Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) but it might as well be led by Joseph Goebbels. Being that the rebels reside within non-descript concrete spaces and sport gray-on-gray utilitarian uniforms, does that make Coin a — gasp! — Socialist? President Coin may work in opposition to the Hunger Games, but she offers no clear agenda for how her revolutionary platform will make this post-apocalyptic world a better place. But one thing is for certain, this particular working class revolution [quite admirably] spans racial lines; oppressed Caucasians and people of color rise up as a collective proletariate against the bourgeoisie.
From the get-go of Mockingjay – Part 1, Katniss is the traumatized revolutionary heroine, sitting idley and voiceless during strategy meetings; all the while, Katniss finds herself part of a standard young adult love triangle, pining painfully for Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) return while intermittently flirting with the much hunkier Gale (Liam Hemsworth). Katniss is just another teenager getting bullied by adults who think they know better. The shameless co-opting of her [protest] folk ballad “The Hanging Tree” for the use of pure, unbridled propaganda is essentially just another raping and pillaging of innocence and purity. Without actually saying so, the rebels in Mockingjay – Part 1 are no better than the [capitalist] Capital. No matter if the leader(s) represents the bourgeoisie or the proletariate, they hide shamelessly behind a menagerie of television monitors, risking the lives of thousands of innocents for their particular cause.
Mockingjay – Part 1 goes to extremes to express that the [television] medium’s message contributes directly to the mayhem. Lawrence’s film relies heavily upon the infinitely powerful transmission of video broadcasts — Marshall McLuhan is either proud or tossing in his grave. Both sides of the war infiltrate each other’s fortresses by way of video propaganda, as the characters of Mockingjay – Part 1 spend a heck of a lot of time watching video monitors. Those television monitors profess the truths or fallacies of the world; the receiver of the message is tasked with the interpretation.
The first half of a bombastically cruel two-part finale, Collins’ final Hunger Games book has been needlessly extended and split into two films. An obvious ploy to double its box office revenue, the biggest fault of Mockingjay – Part 1 is that it comes to a jarring halt right in the middle of a fairly climactic scene, all in the name of keeping the loyal and unwavering fans of the franchise hanging…for yet another year. I can only imagine that President Snow (Donald Southerland) and/or Obama have something to do with this travesty!