Yesterday my younger son and I watched The Hunger Games. As with all movies, the main characters are faced with a continuing series of dilemmas. While watching the film, I noticed several scenes that could be used to jump-start discussions that could be used as gateways into sharing matters of atheism, faith, purpose in life, good vs. evil, and real love. These conversation could then give you the freedom to share the gospel with those you have engaged with.
The discussion starters below are not intended to be the whole conversation or a prescription of how to proceed in a conversation. They are merely intended as some possible ways to get a person talking with you about the themes and situations within the movie. From there you can move to connecting the ideas in the movie with the ideas we live out in real life.
1. District 12 is a coal mining district of Panem. In the movie, the people and the environment of this district are depicted as monochromatic and drab. Gray is the predominant color in the scene. The citizens of the district are stuck in a life without real meaning and purpose, as is reflected in their lack of outward emotion and their robot-like movements.
Discussion starters: Do you think the people of District 12 see themselves as valued and valuable? How do people today find meaning and value in their lives?
2. Prim, being a young girl of twelve years old, will easily be killed as a competitor in the Hunger Games. Instead of allowing her sister to be hunted as an animal, Katniss offers herself as a Tribute in the place of Prim.
Discussion starters: Who has sacrificed of themselves in order to help make your life better? What impact has that made in your life?
3. The Hunger Games are broadcast throughout Panem as a television show, and people throughout all of the districts watch the games. In the annual games, twenty-three young people are killed while millions watch.
Discussion starters: Why do you think the people watched the Hunger Games? Was it for entertainment? Do you think they cared that people were being killed? Why or why not?
4. As the twenty-four Tributes begin the Games, several are killed in the first few minutes.
Discussion starters: Is there good versus evil in the annual Hunger Games? If so, what is good and what is evil in the Games? In what do good and evil have their basis? Is the Panem society generally evil? Do you think there is real good and evil in the world today? What are their bases?
5. During the game, there is an alliance of four of the Tributes. This alliance is united in the pursuit of eliminating Katniss from the game.
Discussion starters: Why would there be an alliance formed, even though the members of the alliance knew they would later be forced to turn against one another? How do you determine who you will trust? Can you truly trust anyone in this world?
6. The conversation between President Snow and Seneca Crane:
Snow: Seneca, why do you think we have a winner?
Crane: What do you mean?
Snow: I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean if we just wanted to intimidate the districts why not round up twenty-four at random, and execute them all at one? It would be a lot faster.
[Seneca doesn’t know what to reply and just looks at Snow]
Snow: Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.
Snow: So, contain it.
Discussion starters: Why did Snow want the spark to be contained? What was the specific hope he was wanting to have contained? What gives people in our world hope today?
7. The conversation when Haymitch is giving his final words of advice to Katniss immediately before she leaves to go to the arena:
Haymitch Abernathy: They’ll put all kinds of stuff right in front, right in the mouth of the Cornucopia. They’ll even be a bow there, don’t go for it.
Katniss Everdeen: Why not?
Haymitch Abernathy: It’s a blood bath, they’re trying to pull you in, that’s not your game. You turn, run, find high ground, look for water. Water’s your new best friend. Now, don’t step off that pedestal early or they’ll blow you sky high.
Katniss Everdeen: I won’t.
Haymitch Abernathy: You can do this.
Katniss Everdeen: Thanks.
Discussion starters: Why do you think the Gamemakers put the items for the tributes right in front of the Cornucopia? Do you think there is anyone (or anything) today that puts stuff in front of us in the same way? What are those things, and why are they put there? What dangers do these things present to us?
Let me know if you have had any conversations that have connected the Gospel and the Hunger Games. I will let you know how the above conversation starters are received by others and what conversations I have.
Is there a movie that you have used as an apologetic? Or is there a movie you would like to have conversation starters for?
I look forward to hearing from you.