Hungry for “Hunger Games” in Vietnam; buy a ticket to Singapore

If you are hungry for the “Hunger Games”, the post-apocalyptic film which made its splash in the US you will have to wait if you live in Vietnam.

In a Saigon season that saw “Shrek” in 3D, “Captain America”, “The Avengers” and “Dark Shadows” in the theater and countless DVD’s sold in stores and on the streets, the Hunger Games is nowhere to be found.

Films are restricted in Vietnam but contraband movies, often sold concurrent with the US release, make virtually every film – the good, the bad, and the ugly available.  A friend in the know told me that Hunger Games won’t be shown in Vietnam because of “content”.  She didn’t mean its excessive gory violence perpetrated by children on children but rather its political content. She did indicate that friends of hers were able to watch it; by flying to Singapore.

Hunger Games is about a strong centralized government in a mythical country of Panem. In the past a region of Panem rebelled against the central government and was defeated.  In an elaborate ceremony and attendant rituals, as punishment and commemoration, districts are pitted against each other, a boy and a girl fight to the death against other districts.  The winners are exalted; the losers perish.

The Capitol is corrupt; it’s leaders well fed and bloated.  The peasants are hungry, deprived of land, freedom, food.  The propaganda machine works overtime to reinforce the myths of national identity, the threats of seditious separatists and counter-revolutionaries.

As spoiler alert, I don’t want to ruin the ending but the couple from District 12 are victorious. They have learned to play the game publicly but remain defiant, keeping their s identity and dignity; thus posing even more of a threat to the ideologues and bureaucrats of Panem.

Of course I haven’t spoiled the movie – since you cannot see it in Vietnam anyway and, after all, it’s just fiction.


About Dr. Roy Nirschel

Thirty years experience as an educator; international traveler, occasional writer, on a personal journey. Author of My Seasons in Saigon (available at Upon the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States I promised to go to Mexico; I did! Carol and I are here now. In the spirit of full disclosure, I promised to go to Mexico if Hillary Clinton was elected president too. The Seasons in Saigon are over; I am uncertain about Vietnam for many reasons despite my love for the country. Now it is Mexico time.

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