On the big screen this weekend was played out hope and despair, cruelty and compassion, and life and death in ways that none of us should ever have to face, most especially our children.
One movie you’ve probably heard of, it is all over the news, the rage among teenagers and adults alike – a real media spectacle. The other, not so much, quietly opening in just a few outlets, with little media coverage, and only word of mouth as its main mode of advertising. Two tales totally different in plot and setting, yet similar in their desperation, two beautiful teenage women coming to grips with the grim reality of their lives. These two very different movies opened this weekend; both cautionary tales of the slaughter of the innocents; stories that would have made Herod himself turn pale.
The first is The Hunger Games. Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, the rich elite rule over the masses, who are no more than slave labor. The ‘Districts’ must send ‘Tributes’ of their children to the Capitol to be sacrificed for the entertainment of the elite in a grotesque parody of reality television shows. The Hunger Games is a coming of age story in the darkest of circumstances, yet has become wildly popular. Armed with her quiver and bow, the brave and intrepid heroine, Katniss, is a stark contrast to malevolent and indulgent leaders of the Capitol. Completely in their power she is defiant to the end, always acting in the best interests of those she loves.
Not so well known, but with the emotional punch equal to a fission bomb, is October Baby. Set in our day, this is the could be story of your neighbor, your friend, or yourself. When Hannah discovers that her life is not at all what she thought, a journey of discovery begins. She will find a story of selfishness and sacrifice in such extreme contrast that those who do not know the true meaning of love could never understand. At the heart of this movie is the very real cost of our present day holocaust; the weapon wielded by the heroine is the most powerful known to mankind – forgiveness.
If entertainment is a reflection of society, then what do these movies tell us? Could the very fact they exist at all be a sign that dark times are upon us, or are about to be? Could the obscurity of October Baby compared to the popularity of the Hunger Games, show an indifference and callousness to the very real destruction of the unborn, not unlike that of the Capitol to the Tributes? I doubt that either story could have even been imagined in any other time in history. There is one theme however that is a constant in both-that Life is precious. And it certainly is. For there are no ‘odds, ‘ as the Tributes are so often told, but there is Hope, for the truth is Every Life is Beautiful.
Update: Fr. Barron has a great review of the Hunger Games. His conclusion is quite chilling.