After being rescued by rebel forces at the end of Catching Fire (the second instalment in the Hunger Games series of movies), Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is distraught and traumatised. She now lives with the rebels in an underground stronghold beneath the ruins of District 13. Also living with the rebels are Katniss’s friends Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemswoth), Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks). President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is holding Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and several other surviving Hunger Games participants hostage.
As a result of Katniss’s defiance of the Capitol and President Snow, the workers of other districts have begun to band together and rebel. To inspire this rebellion, the rebel leader, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), convinces Katniss to act as a symbol and rallying point. She is to become the ‘Mockingjay’.
Katniss and her friends set off to make propaganda videos in several of the districts destroyed by President Snow’s troops. During filming, bomber planes sent from the Capitol attack Katniss and her film crew. Katniss, ever defiant, fights back.
President Snow also sends out bombers to destroy the rebels’ underground fortress, while the rebels simultaneously send a team into the heart of the Capitol to rescue Peeta and other hostages. Katniss now discovers the true horror of President Snow’s revenge against her.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Tyranny and oppression; rebellion; mass murder; propaganda and brainwashing; hostages
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 contains some intense sequences of realistic violence that are likely to disturb some viewers. These include public executions and war scenes with a high body count. There are also constant references to violence, including hanging, poisoning and torture. For example:
- At a public execution several people kneel on a stage with their hands tied behind their backs and hoods over their heads. Armed guards come up behind them, point hand guns at their heads and shoot them. The scene doesn’t show the victims actually being shot, but it does show their bodies and a quick glimpse of the act in a reflected image on the visor of the guards.
- A man gives an order to bomb and kill hundreds of wounded people in a hospital. Planes drop bombs on the hospital, which explodes in flames. The planes chase and fire at a group of fleeing rebels. A large tower is blown up and crashes to the ground, narrowly missing the rebels. Katniss fires an arrow at a bomber plane, which explodes and crashes into a second plane, causing both to explode in flames.
- Some woodsmen are chased by armed guards through a forest. Many of them are shot and killed. The ground beneath the guards explodes, killing them all.
- In a disturbing scene Peeta looks very emaciated and sits on a hospital bed. When Katniss enters the room he immediately attacks her, throwing her against a glass cabinet and on to the floor. He starts strangling her as she gasps desperately for air. A man uses a metal tray to knock Peeta unconscious. A short time later we see Katniss lying in a hospital bed wearing a neck brace, with Peeta strapped to a bed screaming and fighting against his restraints. We hear how Peeta has been tortured with shock treatment and beatings. He has also been given hallucinogenic drugs to turn him into a killer.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Mockingjay Part 1 has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:
- Katniss is traumatised from competing in the Hunger Games. She screams as she wakes up from a nightmare. We see her hiding in a corner, rocking back and forth while muttering repeatedly.
- When Katniss is taken to see the ruins of her district, she walks through smoking piles of rubble. She steps on the remains of a human skull. When she looks down, she sees the ground completely littered with human skeletal remains.
- Katniss visits a makeshift hospital among bombed ruins. There are dead bodies wrapped in sheets lying in rows on the ground, and other dead bodies with burned skin and bloodied faces. Dozens of wounded people lie on stretchers.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violence and disturbing scenes described above.
Younger children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the violence and disturbing scenes described above.
Mockingjay Part 1 has some sexual references. For example:
- A young woman refers to losing a baby.
- A young man says, ‘President Snow used to sell me, or my body at least’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Mockingjay Part 1 shows some use of substances. For example:
- There are several references to a man being a recovering alcoholic.
- A recovering alcoholic asks a young woman if she has any drugs.
- We hear how a man was tortured by being given hallucinogenic venom.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
There is no product of placement in Mockingjay Part 1 itself, but associated merchandise is being marketed to children and teenagers.
There is no coarse language of concern, apart from name-calling such as ‘criminals’, ‘cave dwellers’, ‘coward’, ‘snake’ and so on.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a science fiction action adventure movie based on the Hunger Games series of books.
Mockingjay Part 1 is the third instalment in this series of movies and is darker and more political than its predecessors. It focuses on revolution and the overthrow of the Capitol rather than the violent reality games involving children killing children. The movie does, however, contain some intense violence and disturbing images, and Katniss is presented as unhappy and traumatised. For this reason, this movie is not suitable for children under 13 years, and we strongly recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- There is no victory without compromise.
- Never give up; never give in.
- Symbols can inspire mass movements.
You might also want to talk with your children about self-sacrifice and how many of the characters place their love for others above their own needs and wants, even to the point of sacrificing their own lives.