The Name of the Game is Survival: A look at the Survival Games Sub-Genre.
By Jack Bottomley.
In occasion of the next instalment of The Hunger Games saga – the box office juggernaut based on Suzanne Collins novel trilogy – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, hitting screens today, it is important to remember what came before. Before Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) ever plucked a bowstring, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) ever pulled a face or before the Panem was ever ruled by fear of authority, there were other games of survival going on in the cinematic universe. True Mockingjay Part 1 is focusing its plot more on the fallout from the arena-based battles but The Hunger Games is arguably the biggest name to come along in this more recurrent than you think sub-genre. It is certainly the most profitable. So, with this in mind, we take a look back at what other films inspired or came along after The Hunger Games franchise and moreover what makes a ‘Survival Games’ film tick and how they are open to weighty ideology.
To say cinema has always been distant of authority would be an understatement, from Alfred Hitchcock (North By Northwest) to James McTeigue (V For Vendetta); countless directors have tackled issues of paranoia or fear surrounding a ruling body. Some films simply have the government lie to us; others have strict guardians tormenting young people and others go further. From the earliest days of not only film but culture itself, there has always been a trepidation towards those in a higher position of power- obviously with parenthood it is a case of respect but with authorities like the media and the government it does not seem to be the case. The history of the world is littered with abuses of power and disregarding of (what we acknowledge today as) basic human rights. As Orwell wrote in his 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, “Big Brother is watching you”. Indeed it is since that point that you could say the world has veered closer to such ideas, with intrusive reality Television, a reluctance to get close to the media (which is growing by day in technological prowess) and a developing lack of trust in various governing sectors.