Caroline Friday

Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with several film projects in development for both television and theatrical distribution. She is also a 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Winner for spiritually uplifting screenplays, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Caroline currently serves as EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a film finance and production company headquartered in the Atlanta area. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three children and can be found at

At The Movies

The Hunger Games

Hunger GamesBased on my youngest child’s recommendation, I read the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy and was enthralled with Suzanne Collins’s post-apocalyptic story of Katniss Everdeen and her quest to stay alive in a strange, Survivor-type reality show where she and twenty-three other competitors fight to the death. That may not be much of a recommendation to a Christian audience, but the story is a compelling struggle between good and evil, where good wins out. I am always drawn to these types of stories because they remind me of Jesus—unless there are witches, vampires, and occult characters fighting against each other, and then I stay away (sorry Twilight and Harry Potter fans)!

The Hunger Games was a pre-summer blockbuster that has made over $600 million worldwide, so it is certainly a story that resonates in the hearts and minds of movie-goers and readers alike. Even though it is somewhat dark in its theme, I recommend the film because of its underlying message on sacrifice, survival, forgiveness, being in the world but not of it, and most important, the willingness of an innocent sixteen-year-old to die in the place of the one she loves. In this story, the innocent protagonist, Katniss, forsakes her childhood and becomes a responsible adult, risking her life to hunt for food for her family, and then ultimately fights to the death in place of her sister, Primrose. Though the references to Jesus aren’t spot-on, there is enough metaphor for me to see a Christ-like story.

The setting takes place in North America in the nation of Panem, which consists of a wealthy Capitol city and twelve poor surrounding districts, whose inhabitants live in a constant state of starvation. As punishment for an earlier rebellion against the Capitol, one boy and one girl from each district are selected in an annual lottery known as the Reaping, where they are forced to participate in The Hunger Games. The Games take place in an arena controlled by the Capitol and are televised nationwide. It is a fight to the death where only one participant, or tribute, will survive. This tribute wins a lifetime of accolades, fame, money, possessions, and power.

When Primrose is chosen in the Reaping as the female tribute for District Twelve, Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence) does not hesitate to take her sister’s place. While Primrose’s participation would have resulted in certain death, Katniss’s expert ability to hunt with a bow and arrow increases her chances of survival. The male tribute chosen from her district is a baker’s son, Peeta Mellark. As the Games progress, Katniss develops a close relationship with Peeta that borders on love, but her heart is still drawn to her good friend and hunting partner, Gale Hawthorne, who awaits her return.

After the Reaping, Katniss and Peeta are taken to the Capitol by Effie Trinket, who, like the other Capitol residents, dresses in garish attire with brightly-colored hair and theatrical makeup, much like a Dr. Seuss character. The young couple is treated to a sumptuous meal, luxurious accommodations, and a complete beauty makeover that prepares them for a red-carpet presentation. The verve with which the Capitol residents

embrace the festivities leading up to the Games is nauseating—and yet I am reminded of our culture’s great love for raunch and lewdness, and increasing sex and violence—the more salacious and bloody, the better.

One of the highlights of the movie is the introduction of Katniss’s mentor, Haymitch Abernathy (played by Woody Harrelson), who is the only former winner from District Twelve. My appreciation of Harrelson’s acting was renewed in the recent HBO film Game Change, so I was glad to see him in this role. While his character has little airtime, he plays an important part in the story as a tormented, depressed alcoholic who suddenly finds a renewed purpose in life when he realizes Katniss has the ability to win. His character goes through a nice transformation, which sets him up for a possibly larger role in the sequel.

While the Games are evil and unjustifiable, they are exciting as well, which left me torn while watching the film—should I really be enjoying this? Am I like one of those pink-haired, pasty-faced Capitol residents who is entertained by the innocent being murdered? Because of this conflict, I have not as yet read the second book in the trilogy. By the time these questions entered my mind, I was halfway through my popcorn and had to find out what the filmmakers had planned for Peeta and Katniss. There are enthralling moments in the movie, especially where career-trained tributes from other districts form an alliance to pick off the other, weaker tributes. Sound like a familiar, long-running American reality show? I especially liked how Katniss defends herself using nature as her ally, such as killer bees, called Tracker Jackers. Since bees aren’t my favorite of God’s creation, I shuddered at the notion of being stung to death by a swarm of deadly hornets.


There are tender moments in the film as well, particularly with a young, weak, little tribute named Rue, who reminds Katniss of her little sister. Because of her small size and stealth, Rue survives the initial phases of the Games and is able to help Katniss out on several occasions. When Rue is finally killed, Katniss honors her death by surrounding her body with flowers, which is against Hunger Games protocol. This act of dignity and respect incites a riot in Rue’s district, which puts Katniss on bad footing with the leader of the Capitol, President Snow.

Eager to retaliate against Katniss’s rebellion, the Capitol alters the events in the Games to ensure her demise—but when she continues to survive, the rules are abruptly changed—twice. As the Games come to an end, Katniss is faced with her final opponent, Peeta, whom she has come to love. Unwilling to take his life, her rebellious spirit forces the Capitol’s hand so that two winners are declared. This bold move sets the story up for the sequel, where President Snow exacts his revenge against this young girl from District Twelve. Note to self: perhaps I should read that second book after all.

Basically, The Hunger Games is a fun and exciting, tightly written plot that is different from any other movie I’ve seen—which may explain the fascination. It combines wealth, glamor, sacrifice, romance, fashion, death, revenge, and triumph by the underdog, who happens to have a good, godly heart. And she’s a young beautiful girl as well. A winning combination!