Category Archives: compares book and movie

Hunger Games – Movie

I finally got to see Hunger Games. It took me a while to get there. I thought they did a very good job with the film. The cast was excellent and did not clash with the mental pictures I formed when I was reading. The way the first Katniss/Peeta Hunger Games unfolded was shorter than the games as described in the book and a number of details were left out, but the basic events were the same and the arena was totally accurate.
However, there were a few key changes or deletions that bothered me because they were deletions of people or events that were important to future events in the trilogy. In the movie Katniss gives her sister, Prim, the mockingjay pin which becomes so important to the story, and then Prim gives it back to Katniss as a token to take into the games. In the book the pin is given to Katniss by her only female friend, the daughter of the Mayor of District Twelve. I did not think this rewrite of the author’s story line was necessary except from possibly a financial point of view. It saved the director from having to find and pay a character to be the Mayor’s daughter. Not a huge problem, but it changes the whole motivation behind the mockingjay from a political statement to a family momento.
In the book, while Katniss and Gale were hunting outside the fence they, shockingly, ran into a runaway teen-aged girl and boy. They were just about to make their presence known when a helicopter loomed overhead and captured the runaway pair. It was a frightening event and showed the power and reach of the government in District One. Later, while being prepared for the Hunger Games, Katniss runs into the female who she saw in the forest outside District Twelve. Her tongue has been cut and she cannot speak but she also recognizes Katniss. We understand that the boy has also suffered a similar fate. This stokes the anger we feel toward President Snow and those who do his bidding. I’m sure that leaving it out cleaned up the plot and also made it possible to hire two fewer actors, but I missed this small but emotional story line. Katniss might not have considered the idea of a revolution without these injustices and others like them which stoked her anger and unlocked her inner strength. And she is a very strong young woman who defies the deadly President Snow and who does not back down. By omitting these two early experiences which showed her and us the audacity of the cruelness of President Snow we lose some of the motivation that led Katniss to do what she feels she has to do.
While in District 1 Katniss met some of the residents of that District, who at first seemed like nitwits in a perpetual costume party. But as Katniss gets to know them we become aware that their humanity has been taken away from them by their indolent lifestyle and the proximity to their President who they understand is pathologically cruel and power hungry. Many are really sad, gentle people who live as they must to survive when a monster is in charge of their lives. In the book, Katniss had Cinna from District 1 to help costume her for the games and their relationship was warm and supportive. The movie stayed true to this relationship and Cinna had all the warmth we could wish for. However, in the book Katniss had three other people on her preparation team and they were quite endearing in their odd District One way. I missed their presence in the movie as well and I know we will miss them again and again as we view the next two movies because they humanized the citizens of District 1, who could also be quite ruthless in their enjoyment of the games.

Peeta’s role was also not as clear in the movie as it was in the book. Peeta is Katniss’s common sense. He reins her in. Without him she has no survival instinct – she is all fire with no strategy. And he teaches her about love. The way that Peeta’s character complemented that of Katniss was carefully developed in the book, not so much in the movie. If you read the book before you saw the movie you probably filled in the blanks. If you didn’t read it, I’m not so sure that their interdependence was obvious.

There are a few other small inconsistencies which I am sure viewers have noticed. I especially missed the helicopters that were supposed to arrive to pick up the bodies of the Hunger Games competitors who died and I thought Peeta was cured by a pill rather than a salve. Compared to the people who are missing from the cast and the story lines that were cut to tighten up the plot these omissions or alterations were quite minor. You may have noticed even more things that were changed.  Overall however, it was a very satisfying film and captured the spirit of the first book of the trilogy which was entitled Hunger Games. I am looking forward to the next installment.