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Movie Quote Monday – The Hunger Games

I’ve been on a Hunger Games kick here recently, so I’ve seen it several times in the past few weeks. This scene jumps out at me each time:

President Snow : Hope.
Seneca : Hope?
President Snow : Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear.

I have strong feelings about hope, a strong belief in the power of hope, and so that small exchange made an impression on me from the first time I saw it in the theater.

If you look at The Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss is considered a representation of hope by both sides. Rebellion leadership uses her as a propaganda tool, a beacon of hope for the masses, an incitement to war.  Snow continues to see her as the embodiment of a hope that needs to be crushed.

But when I look at Katniss, I don’t see hope outright.  I see defiance and will, compassion and love. Determination. I guess what I mean is Katniss doesn’t feel like a particularly hopeful character to me, and she doesn’t seem specifically motivated by hope. In fact, she sometimes operates from a place of despair – the opposite of hope.

And yet her actions incite hope.

Her acts of will unleash something stronger than fear in the hearts of others: the realization that things can change, that there is hope.  If Katniss Everdeen can stand up against the capital, maybe I can too.  

It’s interesting.

So, what do you think? Is hope the only thing stronger than fear?

Items of Interest:

Hope Springs Eternal

Is Hope Important?

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. To me, hope is a part of love, the true, unconditional love that overcomes earthly fears, that does not see hardship or even death as too great a sacrifice for those who are beloved. Peace be with you — Kelly

    December 17, 2012
    • Love!! I love that the first comment brings up love, because I had those same kinds of thoughts. I had a bit in here about love, because I keep thinking as I see this scene now, “but it’s love…love is the only thing stronger than fear.” But I just couldn’t get my thoughts to all mesh together into a coherent post, so I dropped that out. I think it’s complicated, and I’m thinking I’ll save my other ideas up for another post. I definitely agree that all of those emotions are wrapped up together, though: hope, love and fear.

      December 18, 2012
  2. I think Yoda pretty much nailed it: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

    December 17, 2012
    • Ah, Yoda. Wise, he is.

      When I read your comment, my first thought was that Episode 4 is called Star Wars: A New Hope. It makes me think that hope ebbs and flows, but it’s hard to completely obliterate it. It hibernates, maybe, but it doesn’t die. Fear can be vanquished. People can forget that they lived in fear. But hope leads to the light. And as soon as there is the tiniest sliver of a thought that things could get better, hope re-ignites.

      December 18, 2012
  3. I was recently considering that scene for a Hollywood Existential.

    December 17, 2012
  4. Ha! Like Todd, I thought of Yoda. I’ve always thought that anger is the most destructive emotion we have, but I also believe it often begins with fear. I don’t see Katniss as “hopeful” either, but her strength and willingness to stand up to the capital creates hope in everyone else. She’s a natural leader because of it.

    December 17, 2012
    • I wonder if fear making us angry is a built-in biological reaction, something that we needed to help us survive. Fight or flight kind of thing. Our emotions are highly chemical, really, which is a weird thing to consider. If we were faced with a life-threatening situation, maybe that anger gave us what we needed to fight. Like the Hulk, anger gives us the extra boost of strength and even deadens our cognitive abilities and more “refined” emotions. But that particular biological reaction is maybe more harmful than helpful in today’s world. I read an article about the chemistry of fear, and once that fight or flight decision is made, different things happen in our brain depending on what choice we make. I’ll have to look that up again, it was fascinating.

      I agree that she’s a natural leader, and it’s interesting that she’s not interested in taking on that role, really. She’s more of an independent person, and particularly in the last book, she’s often trying to break away from others so she can just go and do what she feels she must go and do. But we are drawn to people like her. They lead without doing anything other than being themselves. We want to have their strength, their will, their power of self.

      December 18, 2012
      • I read recently a little blurb from Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, and he said that in both dogs and people, “leaders aren’t made, they are born.” That goes right along with what you said, that “they lead without doing anything other than being themselves.” I think that’s certainly true. Maybe when someone “rises to the occasion” and takes on a leadership role they are merely tapping into what was already there.

        December 19, 2012
  5. I didn’t see her as hopeful but very determined and protective of those she loves. I think love is stronger than fear and pure love is ever hopeful…

    December 17, 2012
    • Hi Patricia! I thought those things, too – very determined and protective! I had lots of thoughts on love being stronger than fear, but I just couldn’t get everything to work out in my mind, so I left those ideas out. I guess love by it’s very nature is hopeful, isn’t it? To love someone is a hopeful act, and it opens up a whole world of expectations inside us of what the future will bring.

      December 18, 2012
  6. It is interesting because she never has even an ounce of hope but through self-preservation inspires many. Such a great series, check out my review http://amandalovesmovies.com/2012/04/02/the-hunger-games

    December 17, 2012
    • After I wrote this post, I was thinking back on the movie, and there was just one time when I thought she had some hope. That was when they announced that there could be two winners, and she thought both she and Peeta could get out of there. But as a whole, I don’t think Katniss sees her life in long-term ways, and I see hope as a long term kind of emotion. I think Katniss looks at the moment in front of her, and perhaps just down the road. I don’t think she looks at an end – certainly not to any possibility of a “happily every after”.

      I did check out your review! Thanks for popping by here and leaving a comment!

      December 18, 2012
  7. My vote goes for love! How about: Love conquers all. I’ve never taken that to mean the romantic type of love, exclusively, but more about how loving yourself and others will give you an advantage over the more negative parts of life.

    December 19, 2012
    • I have to agree that love is BIG!! The big love, the “I would die to protect someone else” kind of love – or even “I would kill to protect my kid” kind of big love – the kind that drowns out all other things, overwhelms all else.

      I think Katniss operated out of love for her sister in many instances. Her thoughts were not of herself, but of her sister.

      January 1, 2013
  8. You know what, while reading this line – “But when I look at Katniss, I don’t see hope outright.”, I paused to wonder what I thought Katniss represented, and I came up with Determination too!
    And while it IS Determination that’s really her strength, determination without hope is called foolhardiness. I don’t think anyone can keep at it when they think it won’t change anything.

    So in that way, whatever she does stems from hope, and that is why she is able to incite hope in others’.

    I really liked the Hunger Games series, though the movie was terribly disappointing. The book dealt with a span of events and emotions, and the movie, in its hurry to include every important event, seemed to miss out on the emotion. What did you think of the movie, compared to the book?

    December 31, 2012
    • That’s a good point, but I was prepared to argue against it until just a second ago, when I re-read your line, “I don’t think anyone can keep at it when they think it won’t change anything.” So, once again I agree and disagree all at the same time 🙂

      I do think you can have determination based something other than hope, and I see some of those things in Katniss’ determination. Stubborness, anger and resentment for example, which is to say that you may not have hope for yourself or the eventual outcome, but you won’t let it be easy for the other person – you won’t go down without a fight. You see that in movies all the time: “I’m gonna die, but I’m taking as many of them with me as I can.”

      But, you made me think about how she may not have that much hope (or even care that much anymore) for herself, she does have hope that what she does will make a better life for her sister. I wasn’t thinking about it as much in that direction. I knew many of her motivations were sister related, but I didn’t think of that in terms of hope before.

      I saw the movie first, so I did really love it. I liked the books, but I thought the book Katniss was much less sympathetic. It showed more of her moodiness and sulkiness, more of her negative side, which I found to be less appealing. The book Katness felt a little bratty and annoying to me. If I’d read the book first, I may not have felt that way, I don’t know. I’ve seen the movie many times now, and I do feel that it conveys the emotions pretty well, particularly with the music (or lack of music in some places). I am loving how they did the music on that movie.

      January 1, 2013
      • I agree that determination can be borne out of something other than hope. But you need hope to carry out your actions. You can be Really mad and swear to yourself that you are NOT letting them get out alive, but once you start acting upon that, you’re acting with the hope that your actions will kill them. That became a long convoluted sentence, but I hope you get it.

        It’s kind of like your objective shifts.

        Well, I didn’t think of it in terms of her sister either. I thought of it in terms of not letting the Capitol win, not letting them get their way, not playing into their hands – those seemed to be the objectives in the first book.

        Actually, I liked the book Katniss precisely because of that fact! In the movie too, she is called a hard-to-get-along person, a person who needs to Do something to win sponsors, who needs to be nicer or more charming etc. But she isn’t, that’s the point. So in that way, I found that the book portrayed her more like how she is Supposed to be.

        I agree, the music was pretty good. But I really didn’t get the emotions. I didn’t get her nightmarish experience near the Cornucopia when they’re chased by those weird dogs, I didn’t get her strong attachment for Rue – I don’t know, i think since the book is able to spend so much time on each and every event, in contrast it seemed like the movie rushed through it all. In fact, neither of us can objectively judge the book or movie, since we were both influenced by the order in which we read/saw it! 😛

        January 2, 2013
        • I think you’re right – I can’t help but be influence by what I did first. I’m almost never really fully satisfied with a movie from a book when I read the book first. And it’s very rare that (if I’m going to read the book) I don’t read the book first. The only one that comes to mind that I completely loved them both equally is Holes. All others I usually like the book better.

          As for the rest, it’s human and it’s emotions, so it’s complicated. I still think you can be determined out of desperation or anger or pain and have no hope. But maybe what I really mean is that you are not motivated primarily by hope, that you have no BIG hope that you will win or overcome or whatever. That it’s not on your mind at all in those situations. However, I do have to concede that somewhere in there would be small hope – because you would “hope” to take out lots of the other guy on your way down.

          Also, I have to concede to you way too often 🙂

          January 6, 2013
        • Oh yes, I try to do that too. In fact, I haven’t yet seen Game of Thrones, because I plan to read the books, or attempt to, at first. Everyone has been raving about the TV series, but I don’t want to start watching them.

          Oh come on, it’s hardly a competition. I concede to you all the time 😛
          I completely agree with this statement of yours, for example: “But maybe what I really mean is that you are not motivated primarily by hope, that you have no BIG hope that you will win or overcome or whatever.”

          January 8, 2013

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