Comparing The Using Of Techniques In Hunger Games And Divergent 

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The 2012 film “The Hunger Games’ by Gary Ross and the 2014 film “Divergent” by Neil Burger use a range of similar and different techniques to explore the themes of oppression, empowerment and rebellion and its impact on individuality. Ross and Burger’s sci-fi thrillers both convey the lives of their protagonists’, who experience similar struggles to surpass the dystopian regime to achieve individuality. The harsh reality of the dystopian society is conveyed through characterization, symbolism and cinematic techniques to explore the injustice of classism and immerse the audience in the widespread condemnation within society. Both directors suggest that individuality provides the power to overcome and fight oppression within an oppressed state.

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Directors Ross and Burger use symbolism and setting to accentuate the oppression of the dystopian regime and its impact on individuality. Ross uses the 12 segregated districts and its citizens to symbolize the oppression the system maintains over society, this is demonstrated through the inequality in which the children of the poor, from the districts, are challenged to their deaths in yearly games for the entertainment and political benefit of the rich. “The government believes that punishing the people of Panem will serve as a reminder that rebellion against the government is wrong, thus it was decreed each year the various districts of Panem would offer up, in tribute, one young man and women, to fight to the death in a pageant of honour, courage and sacrifice. “ The separation of society symbolises the power the governance holds against society. Ross can accurately portray the brutality of oppression using the prejudice of the governance towards the poor. Similarly, in Burger’s ‘Divergent’, the effect of a dystopian regime on individuality is symbolized through the factions and the perspective of Tris who was a ‘divergent’. Burger separated society by utilizing factions as a means of control for the governance, to prevent war. Citizens were classified to a faction by the amplitude test, which tests their aptitudes and values. This symbolises the social stratification and control the faction government has over society by labelling its citizens. Burger strongly emphasises the brutal reality of oppression within a dystopian society when Tris adopted her new and unfamiliar status ‘Divergent’, as Divergents are killed for possessing more than one faction. They are considered a threat to the governance as they can be brave, kind, intelligent, selfless and honest, all of which are basic human emotions that were thought to have caused the war. Viewers are encouraged to reflect on the harsh behaviours of a dystopian regime on society and its impression on individuality when fought to death to put on a show for the rich or when labelled into a faction. As ‘The Hunger Games’ progresses the audience become better educated on the harsh reality of the dystopian society, adapting to the disparity of the punitive setting between the capitol and districts. The setting of the districts is colourless and distasteful, as residents must search for their own food and depend on the wilderness for survival. Essential foods such as bread are a luxury to the residents of the districts. Whereas, the rich live in the capitol, full of colour and lavish feasts accompanied by elaborately prepared dishes. The contrast of setting between the capitol and the districts encourages the audience to reflect on the power totalitarian governments have in oppressing citizens. Similarly, Divergent explores a dim setting, displaying a post war theme of crumbled buildings, high brick walls isolating society from the rest of the world to further accentuate the audience’s views on totalitarian governments and the oppression placed on citizens. As, a result both authors contrast the perceptions of oppression in the dystopian society to immerse the audience on the effect that oppression has on individuality.


Ross and Burger both use characterization to explore the main characters, Katniss and Tris personal development of individuality through the empowerment of rebelling against the oppressive regime. In ‘The Hunger Games’, ross uses Katniss’s characterization to show how her experiences within the games allowed her to develop the power to rebel against the oppressed regime she lived in. Before Katniss became a tribute to the hunger games, she strived to take care of her mum and sister using her archery and hunting skills, “I volunteer, I volunteer, I volunteer as tribute”. However, the capitol sees her strong and kind instincts as a liability to the power the capitol holds as it provides citizens of the districts with hope. Katniss’s independent personality allowed her to play the games to her preferences and become a starring winner despite the capitol’s dictators. Where Katniss lives the revolution against the capitol continues, “No one will forget me. Not my look, not my name. Katniss. The girl who was on fire.”

Similarly, within ‘Divergent’ individuality is characterized through Tris, whose personal development is attained when defying the oppressive regime of the Districts. Burger describes Tris’s character as smart and stubborn when raised in the abnegation faction; the faction focused on selflessness and humility, however she didn’t feel like she could be herself there. Although members of factions are trained not to express individual desires. Tris attained individuality and threated the faction system when she dwelled on her unhappiness within her faction and wished to be in another. Burger portrayed Tris’s desire to be in another faction when her amplitude test is taken, ‘ This is different. I don’t mean you should share [your results] now; I mean you should never share them with anyone, ever, no matter what happens. Divergence is extremely dangerous. You understand?’. Burger utilized ‘divergent’ to emphasis on Tris’s uniqueness of individuality within a society that prohibits personalities that are not required by the faction. Tris’s characterization of divergence allows her to infiltrate the Dauntless compound to stop Erudite taking over the governance by exterminating the abnegation faction. The act against the faction system will enable Tris to develop her individuality and uses that power to topple the dystopian regime. Both directors use characterization to portray similar messages, outlining how in order to overcome a dystopian society, one must be empowered through individuality. The director’s use of characterization is further emphasized by cinematic techniques to explore the theme of rebellion.


Ross and Burger portray rebellion through cinematic techniques. Lighting, sound and camera angles are used to further emphasis the impact of a dystopian regime on individuality. Both authors display their main characters, Katniss and Tris as rebellions who are not afraid to challenge the government. When the capitol decides to change up the game, Katniss chooses to rebel and insists on eating the poisonous berries with Peeta to end the annual Hunger Games. Ross creates tension through sad music and close up camera shots, allowing the audience to see details in the subjects face intimately and establish a strong, emotional connection, “Attention tributes, there is a slight rule change, only one victor may be crowned, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favour.” Ross uses further cinematic techniques of gloomy lighting, soft bird background noises and quick close up camera shots when Katniss is helping one of the young tributes in the game. While Katniss tries to keep herself alive, she also takes into consideration of other tributes who need assistance, triggering the capitol to take her actions as an act of rebellion. Similarly, Burger utilises cinematic techniques to manipulate the audience’s views on the dystopian society and its effect on individuality. Tris’s rebellion is her divergence as it is a threat to the government. When the government becomes aware of Tris’s rebellion, silent but harsh music is played in the background to build intensity for the viewers. Fast cutting shots was also used for viewers to focus their attention on the power or authority Tris and the government shared. The camera was directed upwards when facing the government for the audience to understand that the government is powerful “we will restore the peace, and this time it’ll last, get rid of her”. The close up shots of Tris’s facial expression allows the audience to understand the hatred Tris had towards the government a her ruling. Both authors projected Katniss and Tris’s rebellion through cinematic techniques to manipulate the audiences thought and to experience a desired emotion. The oppression of the dystopian regime empowered and encouraged Tris and Katniss to rebel against a society that did not allow individuality.


Neil Burger and Garry Ross engage their audiences by effectively using different techniques to portray the impact of a dystopian regime on individuality. Characterisation is used to show the importance of empowerment and its positive effect on individuality. Symbolism of society split into districts/factions shows the impact of a dystopian regime. Camera angles, sound and lighting allow the audience to know the importance of taking action in order to atone for an dystopian ruling. Both directors effectively explore the effect of a dystopian regime on individuality through Tris’s and Katniss’s trials and tribulations. Within ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’ a message is delivered to the audience of the importance of not losing one’s individuality.  

07 July 2022

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