Mockingjay Part 1: Katniss as Political Pawn, The Many Faced “Strong Female”, and Civil War

I just saw mockingjay part 1, and it didn’t disappoint.

It was a very different tone from the previous films in the hunger games series. It’s much darker, and could be described as mostly a war movie.

The rebels are working from the bunker location of district thirteen to create propaganda films in favour of the rebellion. Those in power believe that the propaganda films will give the other districts motivation to continue the revolution.

So Katniss and Peeta trade propaganda videos back and forth while acts of rebellion continue in the districts, with retaliations by the capitol.

The hunger games in the previous films were of course violent, but this film is showing a much larger scope in terms of the civil war erupting, and I enjoyed seeing what was going on in the other districts, as well as the plans unfolding in thirteen.

One thing I appreciated in this film was the various versions of “strong female” presented. We often hear the term “strong female” thrown around, and I often end up rolling my eyes when journalists bring it up. Most of the time, the media’s idea of a strong female just means well, a violent women. Although we have come further in depicting women whose strength can come from her femininity or her masculinity, it is still generally believed that a woman who can’t “kick ass” is feminine, and therefore weak.

Effie Trinket is a perfect example of a female character whose strength does not come from her physical resilience, but rather her ability to adapt. She does not adapt to her new life easily, but I don’t think that her difficulty adapting makes her weak. I think she does not know what her role is anymore, and that’s enough to make anyone feel useless and depressed. As soon as she is given a purpose again, she rises to the occasion and becomes a useful member of a team.

That team is the documentary crew, led by Cressida, the director. We don’t know much about her other than she is an ex-resident of the capitol, and must have had courage to leave a comfortable life in the capitol to fight for what she believes is right.  Her strength also comes from using her creative talents to help fuel the revolution.

At the head of everything, is President Coin. This woman is a complex character. She has lost her family, and so her focus is singularly on the revolution, doing everything she can to make sure it succeeds. She comes across as morally ambiguous at times (less so in the movie than the book) and yet has the world on her shoulders, so she is forced to make hard decisions.

I obviously have to mention Katniss. This character has had so much happen to her, and yet still agrees to be used once again as a tool of propaganda. In the first two hunger games, she must act a certain way as to not give the impression that she is a symbol for revolution, and now that the revolution is underway, the ones in power are telling her that she must do just that.

I believe Katniss’s strength comes from her awareness of the fact that she is being used, and although she does not want to be, she chooses to go along with it. Her role as the mockingjay was thrust upon her, and she realizes that this is a responsibility.

I thought this movie was well done; the realities of war were effectively presented, I liked how much larger the story has become with much more at stake then only the tributes in the games, and especially the very real mirror it holds up to our own lives and climate that we are currently living in.


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