"Catching Fire" is an absolutely amazing movie.
I had no idea what I was in for when I strolled into the movie theater a week ago to see the newest of Suzanne Collins' sensational trilogy. I love the books, but usually, sequels tend to disappoint.
Not this time – I sat on the edge of my seat, watching the quick-action tempo and the complex characters unfold with wide eyes.
Unfortunately, a week of studying had clearly gotten into my head, and I couldn't help but notice the highly political aspects the film portrayed, and the more I watched, the more intrigued I became.
In the story, futuristic America has turned into Panem — a country with a unified series of 12 Districts, each geared towards a certain sector of production; the Capitol serves as the central political and cultural city.
In the world of the futuristic Panem, there are no real freedoms. People who act against the government — like the man who holds up the mockingjay symbol in the beginning of the film — quickly face death for betraying the government. The people in the districts have absolutely no freedom of speech and no rights under which they are protected.
The first declaration of America's Bill of Rights is the freedom of speech. When looked at closely, this right creates one of our most sacred tenants of democracy.
We get to pick up a paper and read different opinions and perspectives on the day's events. We turn on the channel and watch reporters give diverse aspects of national events and columnists — average people like myself — give our personal opinions on essentially anything we choose.
For a government, the voice of the people can be both powerful and extremely threatening. Millions of people live beneath oppressive governments; these regimes very notoriously monitor the televisions and restrict access to books, shows and exposure to certain areas of thought. Even textbooks and university systems can be modified to hide unwanted information.
Our channels have different stations where we get the weather, traffic, headlines and news reports. Our political analysts discuss the day's politics. To us, the stream of news is completely ordinary. We live in America, and we have free access to a constant stream of communication.
The storyline in "Catching Fire" is absolutely riveting, aside from the underlying message. Katniss, the protagonist, struggles to survive in a second series of games and understand her feeling for Peeta and Gale, her two different love interests. The movie hinges on the young woman's desire to protect her family from the leaders of the prior Hunger Games and the President himself.
Maybe I was just immersed in the story. But honestly, I think the film shows a very important truth — governments that silence the people's voices do not belong only to young adult novels. Many countries around the world experience the inability to honestly state an opinion without fear of punishment. I don't edit the things I say or write because I'm afraid the government will find me and threaten my family or me — but at this very moment, many people do.
Look at the massacre at Tiananmen Square in China or the heavy censorship in North Korea. Specifically, North Korea does not allow any independent journalism, and all media is specifically filtered through the government.
Having no voice renders people unable to understand and influence the government, and the subsequent gap is the foundation for tyranny.
Our First Amendment rights are very sacred and deserve to be highly protected and used. I'm grateful that I don't have to look over my shoulder to make a comment about a political decision, and I'm grateful that I can read a paper or watch a station to hear about national events.
Great movies like "Catching Fire," along with many other fantastic cinematic qualities, can speak about injustice with such creativity and insight.
Oh, and Team Peeta.
Sarah Hagaman is a sophomore in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.