Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Though describing science fiction is not easily done, Catching Fire relies on a specific feature that has become over-used among the many manifestations of this genre: the integration of futuristic technology developed by highly intelligent versions of humans. Viewers are introduced to spaceships, specialized weapons, a state-of-the-art training area, and the like in creating a world that is foreign, yet strangely familiar to the present-day viewer. The arena in which they play is, in itself, an innovation that scientists can only dream of developing someday. However, the film’s strength lies in its ability to present a dystopian version of society where morality and social constructs are put into question, which is something that other products of science fiction usually fail to do. By combining advances in technology with the basic human desires for power, safety, and comfort, Catching Fire succeeds in pushing the viewer to actively think about the future and what it holds for the decisions that individuals will make with the resources at hand.
That being said, the film touches on ideas that point to the positive and negative aspects of human society in the past, present, and future. The concepts of dictatorship, rebellion, and war come into play, along with a view of the complexities of the decision-making of leaders and their abuse of power. Economic imbalance, as seen in Panem is taken into consideration as the poverty of the Districts is juxtaposed with the exaggeratedly luxurious lifestyles of the inhabitants of the Capitol. Furthermore, the emotional aspect of the film pushes the viewer to question what s/he would do in the face of desperation to survive: To look out for oneself alone, or to reach out to others despite the obvious hazard of being hurt in the end? It’s a moral dilemma that finds its place in any point in time. Catching Fire takes all of the past and present manifestations of these concepts, and translates them into their extreme future counterparts to give viewers a glimpse of what might happen if the positive and negative aspects of humanity continue to not be in check.
As society moves into a world where life is much more quick-paced and intricate because of the developments in technology, the film provides an interesting insight into how science and its many products can easily disrupt the balance that our ancestors and ourselves have set out to achieve. The districts, after years of discontent, are subjected to the abuse of technology and the many resources the region has to offer as the Capitol decides to abuse them for their own enjoyment, under the ruse of commemorating a failed rebellion. The film also shows how society effectively fails in this world, with the minority turning a blind eye to the hardships faced by the majority of Panem with their focus on fashion, lavish events, and other superficial luxuries. Consequently, viewers are pushed to wonder about our world today, and how the similarities between their society and ours are not very far-fetched.