It is some unknown date in the future. Modern civilization was destroyed long ago and the world is very different. If you are not wealthy and powerful(Capitol), you live in one of 12 districts. You are only allowed to learn about things that enable you to do your job, and that job is determined by the Capitol. Even the way you do your job is dictated to you. You work and contribute to society, based on the district in which you live, and you are rewarded by being allowed to live. No additional thinking allowed. Additional thinking apparently leads to desire to do more than your assigned role. More is dangerous. But after a few rebellions, the Capitol realized that taking away technology and access to knowledge wasn’t enough. They needed something more. So they created the Hunger Games. “Let’s round up a bunch of kids, two from each district, and make an awesome virtual reality game with our super-advanced technology that the rest of the horrible people of the Capitol can watch for entertainment. One of the kids has to kill the other 23. We’re not actually killing them so we aren’t responsible, even though we put them in this situation. We’ll justify it as punishment for trying to take away the luxuries that we deserve.” No one else deserves these luxuries, why? Well, because they will have to share of course. Sharing is bad when you are used to having everything.
This is a really, really dark concept for a movie. Evil people who now run the world, hold power by having all of the technology and knowledge and killing people who don’t do exactly what they want. They could have made a movie that was only about the Hunger Games world as it is, and it would probably be very interesting. In fact, if there was a prequel made, showing us how the world of Panem came to be and how the Hunger Games were invented, I would be very interested in watching this. It could show one of the first Hunger Games and how much of a disaster it probably was, and how many uprisings it took and people murdered before it became the societal norm.
But the first Hunger Games movie is not about this. It’s about the outlier, Katniss Everdeen, who somehow is able to shake up the current state of affairs. We want her to do this because we can’t imagine having to accept living in a world like hers. Every time she resists, we automatically root for her, even though it might cause people to die or put her at risk, because we can’t help thinking that anything is better than her current situation. I like the Hunger Games because it is a rich tapestry of a dystopian future, awesome technology, and really crazy people, some fighting for good and some for evil, but everyone in this future world is crazy in one way or another, due to the circumstances. I’d like to think that I would be like Katniss, and stand up for what I believe in, but I also hope to never be put in a situation like hers. I am very lucky to be free to choose what I do with my life. I realize not everyone is that lucky.