• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

The Hunger Games Phenomenon

ByAnni Hodgkinson

Dec 6, 2023

Since the book’s release in 2008, The Hunger Games has taken the world by storm. It began the onslaught of female lead, dystopian novels, riding on the back of the success of the infamous ‘Chosen One’ series. It provided a breath of fresh air without straying too far from the familiar themes we became accustomed to, and now, the series is back – bigger and better than ever. 

But what’s the cause of the phenomenon? 

Since the first trailer for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I have been rereading the series and rewatching the films, and nothing sticks out more than the faithfulness of the adaptations. Watching Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (whose face I have seen far too much on social media recently), feels like someone has reached into the book directly and grabbed the characters of Katniss and Peeta. It makes sense that the movie adaptations were able to match the success of the book series, because they were so incredible faithful to the source material – plus, the films are generally just impressive. 

The Hunger Games itself is an utterly incredibly good series — if not for anything else, then at least for the fashion. My Pinterest board has never been fuller than with Effie-trinket inspired outfits for all the Hunger Games themed parties I expect to be invited to. Now, I can add the famous Lucy Gray rainbow dress to my mood-board. My guitar is sick of my renditions of ‘The Hanging Tree,’ as are my flatmates, and one too many fights have been had about which District we would all belong in. For a moment, we can pretend that The Hunger Games isn’t a parody of real life, and just another movie series with funky costumes and a cacophony of stomp-and-holler rebel songs. 

The Hunger Games itself always feels eerily realistic and morally grey; we are asked to love unlikeable characters, who are murderers but also show feelings of true love. The dystopian element is enough for us to imagine it is fictional, but the realness of the context allows us to engage with it. Suzanne Collins was inspired by the news of war tragedy interspersed with reality tv shows, and as an audience today we are still faced with this – scrolling through Instagram, I see videos of suffering followed swiftly by K-Pop edits, and Collins has captured this phenomenon successfully on a world-wide scale. 

In the latest film, Rachel Zegler, as Lucy Gray Baird, offers an evocative performance, and her choice to perform music live makes the score of the film all the more theatrical – if you enjoyed the work of James Newton Howard in the past, this blows every other production out of the water. Tom Blyth, as Coriolanus Snow, has a performance that we hate to love, and love to hate. His portrayal of Snow makes us forget his evil deeds of the future, and almost makes me want to forgive him for what he did to Finnick. 

So, take my word for it: The Hunger Games renaissance is coming. May the odds be ever in your favour.

Poster for ‘Catching Fire’, Sequel to ‘The Hunger Games’” by JoeInSouthernCA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.