So I went to see the second movie of the Hunger Games series, “Catching Fire” the other night. The theater was packed. And before the movie started, my friends got up to get popcorn. I held the fort down until they got back, fending off 10-12 pretty young things wanting to sit next to me. (That had to be why they were asking if the seats were free, right?)
But, anyway, the movie was awesome. And I found myself vigorously typing quick notes on my phone whenever something caught my attention. My friends got a kick out of it. But what can I say, I’m passionately curious. I like to write things down and be able to reflect on them.
And that’s what this is. My personal reflection on some themes and symbols in “Catching Fire,” and the connections to our reality.
I’m not going to summarize the movie here or get too deep into the plot. You can read about all that here. This article is intended to dive into the symbolic themes of the movie and how it applies to our lives.
General Themes To Marinate On:
(some of these might sound a little familiar)
Panem is almost perfectly structured for control and dependency.
There are 12 districts, each isolated and specialize in one aspect of the “global economy”. At the center of Panem is the capital, home of the small ruling class, and distanced from the districts. The capital strictly regulates every aspect of life in the districts (travel, commerce, laws, education, media…etc). This means that each district must depend on the capital for all necessities. Everything is essentially controlled by the capital. The districts are kept in poverty, dependency, ignorance and fear while the highly materialistic capital exploits them. It’s a near-flawless control system, built on propaganda and fear. But truth can never be destroyed, only hidden. And that’s why the capital’s demise is inevitable, in my humble opinion.
Everyone inherently knows something is wrong.
Deep down, the people of Panem know that they’re being lied to. That they’re being exploited. That this isn’t the way life is supposed to be. But they’re not empowered to create change until they see a glimmer of hope. Katniss helped provide that glimmer of hope and the people started taking action.
The propagation of fear is how Panem maintains its existence. Having the hunger games every year really drives the fear. Plutarch and Snow discuss using fear to control people.
The people of Panem are kept ignorant to the true nature of reality. That ignorance makes them susceptible to fear. That fear makes them susceptible to control. And it’s a cascading effect of fuckedupness from there. Hello control system.
“The lesson learned is: ignorance breeds fear. If you don’t keep that fear in check, that fear will breed hatred. If you don’t keep hatred in check it will breed destruction.” -Daryl Davis
Using fear is a typical strategy of a controlling elite (the “powers that be”). This is evident in our reality as well. Look at how the concept of time, the media, religion, money…etc are fear generators as well. Fear can be powerful when people are kept in ignorance. That’s why truth must be hidden for fear to dominate.
In “Catching Fire”, people begin to see that the capital is not infallible. That they can cause some sort of change. That they’re being lied to. The people are breaking out of that ignorance, and thus transcending fear. You see more and more people standing up for what is right. This is especially evident with Gale.
Self-preservation vs the greater good.
Self-preservation maintains the status quo. Selflessness creates change. This is Katniss’ moral dilemma. Should she embrace the role of the mockingjay and be a catalyst for change? Or deny it and attempt “go back to normal”? Katniss finds that going back to her previous lifestyle is impossible. And she realizes that “normal” was not ideal. They’ve always had very limited freedom and were subjected to being thrown into the Hunger Games every year.
The power of symbols.
Whether good or bad, symbols hold great power. The 3 finger sign used by the old man in district 11 powerfully conveys this message. The symbol means thanks, admiration, and good-bye to a loved one. You could feel the intent behind that gesture. The call for change. For the lion to arise from slumber. You could feel the connection spark between everyone.
“Catching Fire” shows one person, or one act, can “spark” (notice the terminology haha) massive change. One simple act of non-compliance can create a snowball effect. Katniss’ decision for both her and Peeta to eat the posionous berries (at the end of the first book/movie) was a powerful act of non-compliance. Sending the message that they would rather commit suicide than kill each other. It’s broadcasting the message of choosing love over fear, which is a huge threat to the powers that be. More on this theme later.
The people of the Capital are over-the-top-materialistic. Everything about their appearance is exaggerated and artificial. The make-up, the clothing, their fake personalities…etc. This extravagance enforces the point of how artificial “reality” really is. It’s all a big charade. It leaves you questioning what’s real.
Some Specific Themes, Symbolism, And Scenes That Stood Out To Me:
“You’re just distractions to keep them from thinking about the real problems.” -Heymitch (to Katniss and Peeta)
This is an obvious strategy today. Distractions are constantly thrown at us (celeb gossip, media in general, smartphones, games, alcohol, work…etc) to keep us from exploring the truth of the world around us, and the truth of the world within us.
“Give up your morals and have fun.” -Plutarch (at the party before the games)
We’ve all encountered similar things said in some situations. And it’s a testament to a society not reflecting our inherent values.
Peacekeepers are all masked and standardized.
They’re faceless. They’re not individuals. This implies that you have to be a direction-taking automaton to carry out those orders. Like the stormtroopers in Star Wars. And we even see this happening with police right now. They’re looking for certain personality types to enforce the bogus laws being enacted. Independent, free-thinking individuals with a set of morals do not take orders to carry out destructive agendas.
Attempt to destroy Katniss’ image.
Plutarch convinces Snow that destroying Katniss’ image before killing her would be more effective for quelling a rebellion. This discussion grabbed my attention because it often happens to people that have potential to disrupt the status quo and change the world. It’s more effective to destroy their image before just killing them. Ex/ Michael Jackson (there’s so many conspiracy theories out there regarding both his image being destroyed and his death.)
The scene where they filmed Katniss and Peeta coming out of their houses and broadcasted it on TV. We saw the stark contrast between reality and what was on the screen. People in the theater even laughed. It was gloomy, dark, and barren looking; while the camera lighting and angles made it appear more extravagant and dazzling than it really was. It reminded me of this scene from the movie “Wag The Dog.”
Effie’s dress being made of Monarch butterflies (when she announces the participants in the 75th Hunger Games).
Blatant symbolism regarding Monarch mind control. As the TV personality, she acts like a mind control slave with no sign of free will or independent thought.
See these articles for a clearer picture:
Caesar Flickerman (the Host of the Hunger Games)
Prototypical jester character type. He provides comic relief (or distraction) from the grim reality of the hunger games.
Peeta and Gale.
2 dynamics of good men. Peeta is innocent and nurturing. Gale is independent and sure-footed. Both are necessary for optimal function, as you see one embrace qualities of the other throughout the series.
Flames/torches during the opening ceremony of the Hunger Games.
“The Eternal Flame.” It’s an Illuminati (wait, do they exist?) symbol that means “enlightenment.” (See: Statue of Liberty, Olympic torch, the building right outside of the kitchen at work, 9/11 memorial, JFK memorial…etc.) The eternal flame is all around the Capital because they think they’re more enlightened and powerful than everyone else. But Katniss is using their own tactics and arrogance against them. She’s taking that symbol of enlightenment back for the people. That’s another reason why, in my opinion, she’s called “the girl on fire.”
There’s a lot of Saturn symbolism in Catching Fire. You just need to know what to look for.
Black is the dominant color at the ceremonies.
Saturn symbolism. Katniss even had little rings around her head. Check out this article for more information than you probably want to know on Saturn symbolism.
The arena for the Hunger Games being a giant clock.
This theme really jumped out at me. Time is a form of control. It also makes us susceptible to fear and everything that comes with it.
“Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time”
All worry and anxiety comes from the past or future.
And here’s the kicker…
Kronos/Saturn is the god of time! (aka Father Time)
“The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment.” -Eckhart Tolle
*Check out the resources at the end of the article for a lot more information on the concept of time.
The dome of the arena was made out of a series of hexagonal screens.
And guess what…
The North Pole of Saturn is a hexagon.
After “remembering who the real enemy is,” (the Capital and everything it represents, like fear, control…etc.) Katniss destroyed the screens making up the dome at the end of the movie. This ended the “game” and allowed them to be rescued. She literally shattered the matrix that was controlling them.
To help wrap your head around how all this crazy stuff connects…
David Icke has an interesting theory regarding Saturn’s influence on our reality:
How To Directly Apply The Themes Of “Catching Fire” To Your Reality:
See through the illusions.
See through the lies. Know the tactics of deception. Recognize how the media can sway public opinion. Be aware of the conditioning you’ve received (school, religion, culture, do’s/don’ts, rules…etc.). Know how even your own mind can deceive you. Hone your bullshit detector. The illusions in real life are more subtle than in the Hunger Games, but still distinguishable nonetheless. Be able to find truth for yourself.
Don’t succumb to fear.
Fear is used as a means of control. If you operate in fear, you subject yourself to the will of external forces.
Transcend fear and control. Choose love and become empowered.
Empowerment arises when fear is left behind. And this allows you to do what you know is right, deep down. Not just what people tell you to do.
Don’t completely rely on external sources when it comes to your decisions and actions.
Empowerment is trusting yourself. Trusting your inherent judgment and intuition. If you don’t trust yourself, you essentially give your power away. And someone else is always ready to take it if you don’t.
This goes back to the paradigm of love. When you genuinely love yourself, you don’t need to look externally for everything. You empower yourself. You don’t need external approval to trust your opinion. You don’t need external gratification to feel happy.
You create your own path in life. When you trust yourself, you become a trailblazer. You become the master of your fate.
Who knows what inspiration you can spark within others?
Katniss was unaware of the change she sparked with one simple act.
So who knows how your actions are affecting the world around you. Moods and actions tend to have a domino effect. People pay it forward.
I like to think that my action create a chain reaction. Maybe the old lady I held the door for gave a balloon to a little girl. And that little girls wrote a letter to her Dad who was away on a business trip. And her Dad gave one of his employees extra paid vacation to visit his elderly mother, and so on and so on.
“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” -Voltaire
Because you never know…
“I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” -Tupac Shakur
Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.
*Resources on the concept of time:
-The Illusion of Time (Great documentary by quantum physicist Brian Greene. This is a must-see)