Perhaps you are aware that I am a huge fan of the books The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins.
I feel strongly that this is a series that should be read.
That said, when my twelve year old son's sixth grade class was informed they would be reading this series, I went to the teacher and said I was concerned and did not think they should read it. He asked me if I had read them and I said I had JUST finished reading them all and they were too adult content for the kids to read. He assured me he knew what he was doing.
I wish I had fought harder about that.
S1 read the book and loved it. And here is the thing, I didn't want him to read the rest of the series. But the class started to and he couldn't wait for them so he read them all. We talked a lot about the series as he was reading them.
And then I found out it was going to be a movie.
Now I have a choice here.
As someone who knows fully what will be in the movie I have to decide if my child should see it.
But he read the books.
And I think in a book you spend so much of your time in a book the movie is not as powerful. There is, however, something to be said about an IMAGE sticking with you.
I decided this was a great teachable moment.
And it was a great mom and son bonding time.
So, my two friends, Alicia and Korene, and I took our boys to see it.
I'll not lie, we were giddy as could be.
I wanted S1 to feel it was a real special moment. I wore heels to be taller than him. :)
He wore his best camouflage.
In the movie, the children have to fight to the death. There is no getting around that. The movie follows the book rather well, of course the book is better. The book is also much more bloody, much more painful to read.
When we left the movie, Korene was reeling. We stood in the parking lot as the boys played catch and talked over the movie and the symbolism of it. Alicia loves it for the story. Korene was in shock that her son had read the book and she didn't know it was about THIS. That evening Korene, Alicia and I were messaging more ideas about the movie and themes and so forth.
It's just that kind of book. It's just that kind of a movie. It does not leave you.
S1 and I chatted about the movie versus the book on the way home. I asked him why it was he thought the movie was so popular. He shrugged, "The love story in it, I guess."
"Is that why you like it?" I asked, quite surprised, I'll admit.
"No," he stopped to chew some of the fried chicken I had picked up for him after the movie at his favorite place to eat, KFC. "I liked the book because when you read it you felt you knew that character and why she did what she did. Some books you read, you read about the character. This book you really felt you knew the character.
And I liked all the woods scenes. How she had to think fast and act."
I asked him what he thought about the kids killing each other. And this is when we began to discuss the underlying parts of the book.
As a mom reading/watching this, I could not ever fathom being able to watch my child's name being pulled out of all the names to be sent to near certain death. I would protect them from all harm.
But the book and the movie portrayed it so well....the people had no hope. None.
I cannot fathom it.
It scared me, the parallels it made. My heart broke for those who have gone to war. It pierced me to think of a world without any hope in a God to save them. It concerns me how easily a large group of people can look to one dictator to think for them unquestioningly.
All this my twelve year old son and I talked over.
When we arrived home, he wandered off to hang out with his brothers and my husband and I chatted. "Good movie?" he asked.
"Yes...and no. Yes, because it's what I expected. No, because I shouldn't have taken him to it. Because he should have never read those books."
I know, shocking because I love them so. I fully understand why someone does not want to read them. I fully can appreciate the outcry against it.
For me it was because it took just more of my son's innocence.
And yet, I am thankful - so thankful - that he and I have a relationship that we can talk the books and movie over. That we have that open dialogue.
I would rather have done what we did...see it together, not just pretend it wasn't the biggest most talked about thing in the entertainment news right now, made it a special mother son day, and made it as fun and memorable as possible.
But the rest of my boys? No. Not a chance. S2, who is nearly ten, would have nightmares. And I will be more adamant he will not read it in sixth grade, I believe.
If it's not this book, it will be another. And every situation is different.
But S2 I know could not come close to handling this. And I feel terrible for the kids who may have struggled with the book. Because it is just that kind of a book. It's just that kind of a movie.
I had just read this quote before we went to see the movie. "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." - Bonhoeffer
Katniss acted on what she knew was right. Peeta refused to let "them" dictate who he would be. There are amazing lessons to be learned in the book and movie, amazingly GOOD lessons that make their point poignantly well.
If you loved the books, you will like the movie. The scenes are beautiful in the mountains. The music is touching (can't wait to get the soundtrack!) and when it comes out on dvd, I'll buy it. I'll watch it again because I like it so. It's a powerful movie and I can't wait to see what my husband thinks of it as well, especially him knowing what a fan I am of it.
And, on a totally different soap box rant, SERIOUSLY, did a bunch of us need to see a movie trailer where the couple is undressing each other before the movie began? My son was more scarred by THAT scene than anything in the entire Hunger Games movie. Heads up on the previews....