Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Hunger Games: A history lesson

What are the Hunger Games? Who is Capitol? What’s a mockingjay? Are these burning questions plaguing your mind? Are you unsure about the Hunger Games series? With the release of the movie in less than two months, it’s helpful to have a little prior knowledge before going in—or to help you make the decision whether to attend or not. 

Until the release on March 16, I will post various entries regarding the character analyses, settings, events and other information about the books on Sundays. Any entries that contain spoilers will be clearly marked. The review will go up after I see the moving that weekend and something over the work of Cinna.

So let’s start with a history lesson:

Panem and the Capitol

Panem came to being after some sort of apocalyptic event that changed the land and killed modern civilization. Panem is the nation that sits in the North American continent—or what was left of it. The Capitol is the government located in what were the Rocky Mountains. Districts formed; either previously established areas or created by Capitol. Each of the 13 districts had an industry. 

One-Luxury Goods
Two-Masonries, weaponry, military hub located here after the Dark Days
Thirteen-Graphite, nuclear weapons

Seventy-five years before The Hunger Games, District 13 started a rebellion (Dark Days) to oppose Capitol’s harsh ruling of Panem and obtain their freedom. During the rebellion, Capitol created muttations (genetically altered creatures) to fight the rebels. These included tracker jackers and jabberjays. Tracker jackers, resembling wasps, injected enemies with venom that targeted what a person was afraid of and caused hallucinations. The tracker jackers followed anyone who destroyed the nests. Jabberjays repeated conversations, acting like spies. More information on those later. 

The rebellion ended and District 13 was eradicated. Panem now had 12 districts and Capitol. As punishment for the rebellion, Capitol created The Hunger Games.

Each year, the district representatives choose a boy and girl between 12 and 18 during the reaping to send to Capitol to participate in the games. The children’s names are on a slip of folded paper placed in a bowl. The older a person was the more slips they had. Children gained an extra entry each time they signed up for tesserae, grain and oil, for each person in the family. The tesserae lasts one year. 

The gamemakers, who run the event, put the 24 tributes on display for the citizens of Capitol and the rest of Panem. A team of stylists makes over each tribute to make an impression. The tributes participate in training, are evaluated and given a score. Finally, each tribute has a short interview to entice the citizens of Capitol. 

All this pageantry is the way that the citizens of Capitol decide who to bet on or who to send gifts. For a fee, gifts can arrive in the arena to help the tributes. The gifts are very expensive and increase in cost as the games progress. 

The gamemakers send the tributes into an arena to fight to the death while everyone watches. For the citizens of Capitol, it’s entertainment. For the people of the districts, it’s a harsh reminder that they have no control over their lives that Capitol always wins.
The event occurs each year. The main character of the series, Katniss, participates in the 74th Hunger Games. To press the matter of no control further onto the districts, each district hosts the tribute during the Victory Tour, held half way between the Games.
Imagine having to honor the person who killed your child.

The question is how much of this information will we see in the movie? The finer details of the rebellion don’t come about until later in the series, but we do know why the Games exist. Based on the trailer, it looks as if the movie promises to be gripping like the book.

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