Movie vs. Book: The Hunger Games

Contributed by Sam Smink

At one time there was an uprising in the post-apocalyptic country of Panem, and one of 13 districts was wiped away against the force of the Capitol. To remind the districts of the cost of an uprising, 24 “tributes” are annually shoved into an arena of deadly surprises until only one comes out alive in the Hunger Games.

The film version of The Hunger Games does a great job at establishing the relationship between its heroine, Katniss, and her younger sister, Prim. We witness the first difference from the novel early on. In the movie, Katniss gives Prim the Mockingjay pin to protect her. In the book, the mayor’s daughter, Madge, gives Katniss the pin. But a Madge-less movie makes little difference, especially since it allows us to witness the closeness of Katniss and Prim, further developing their relationship.

Another difference in the movie is that there’s very little setup regarding the District 12 “strategy” that Haymitch develops — a love story between its two tributes, Katniss and Peeta. I wish the film had done more to set up the fact that this was Haymitch and Peeta’s plan from the beginning, particularly since the strategy is what causes Katniss and Peeta to fight at the end of the novel. Therein lies another difference. The movie needed to delve more into Peeta’s anger at the end when he realizes the “love” was all a ruse on Katniss’s part.

There also wasn’t enough background established with the Katniss, Peeta, Gale love triangle. Many of us have been asking ourselves Team Peeta or Team Gale but here, I felt no personal connection to either.  In actuality, Peeta’s love is true, selfless and heroic. Here it just seems like any other crush for those who haven’t read the books. They also needed to establish more of a friendship between Gale and Katniss.

As far as the Hunger Games themselves, I sat on the edge of my seat, holding my breath throughout the entire games, despite knowing the outcome from the books. Brilliant film making. The style of the games was shot realistically, so you felt like you were there yourself. Not to mention, the Hunger Games is like a reality show, so the shaky one-camera style fit perfectly. They also did a nice job of showing the violence without overexposing it. The PG-13 rating certainly didn’t diminish the quality. You saw people die; you just didn’t see it thrown in your face.

We learn after the Games that Katniss has put herself in a very dangerous position because her actions throughout the games are seen as rebellious — the start of a revolution. But the film shows us the revolution starts even earlier. After the death of Rue, the movie reveals that District 11 starts an uprising against the Capitol. This is a piece of information that, in the books, is not revealed until Catching Fire. The choice to include it in the first movie in the trilogy, however, is a smart move because it needs to set up for the sequel.

Another difference: Seneca Crane. He was only briefly mentioned in the book as Gamemaker. But in the movie, he gets a pretty decent part. He’s used as a mechanism for describing the evil and power of the people in the Capitol. I think we could have seen a little less of him. Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman did a well enough job of providing commentary for those not familiar with the story.

All in all though, fantastic work. The actors could not have been better cast, and all the right ingredients were there. It was moving, it was exciting, it stayed mostly true to the book. Everything worked. I’d even see it again, especially since there’s still another year-and-a-half until another Hunger Games. But until then, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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6 Comments

Filed under Movie vs. Book

6 responses to “Movie vs. Book: The Hunger Games

  1. Reblogged this on carolynstraughan and commented:
    The Hunger Games movie blew me away – I was expecting something cheesy like the Twilight movies, but The Hunger Games was incredibly well-made and the actors did a phenomanel job. This blog post does a good job comparing the book and the movie. Though the movies are never as good as the books, I would recommend anyone to see The Hunger Games, even if they haven’t read the trilogy.

  2. Amritorupa Kanjilal

    Yeah, I’m not going to read this post because I just bought Hunger games (the books) and I’m protecting myself from spoilers 🙂
    New post at http://riversihaveknown.wordpress.com/ BTW

  3. I enjoyed the movie but I thought the acting left quite a bit to be desired for the first 20 minutes of the movie. I also HATED Woody Harrelson’s portrayal of Haymitch. It was too much like watching Woody play Haymitch…he never became him in my eyes. Also, Haymitch isn’t a beloved character and establishing that might have helped in the following movies. Woody Harrelson’s is too naturally likable.

    Just my opinion.

  4. willysbookreviews.blogspot.com

    This book is AMAZING! Suzanne Collins blew me away with her masterpiece. Throughout this book I was awestruck (my face looked like this :O), the character development was phenomenal. She outdid herself. I found one flaw, and only one:
    1) Katniss Everdeen (our heroine) speaks of food every two pages!

    On the upside, Suzanne end every chapter with a cliff hanger. You might think, when I finish this chapter I shall go to sleep, ha! I can assure that you will not go to sleep until you finish the book or your eyes give out. Katniss is a very interesting heroine, I think. She doesn’t care about what she has to do in order to protect herself and her family. She is a realist. She is loving. And she is strong.

    If When you read this book you will definitely want to go get your copy of Catching Fire. Then of course Mockingjay.

    I have read this book three times now!

    Please visit my book blog,
    willysbookreviews.blogspot.com

    • Patrice Ferguson

      I know what you mean about not putting the book down. I made the mistake of buying all three at once because I go through a book a night. My kids were at camp and I started to read them and neglected the house and my self obsessing on it till the bitter end taking breaks only long enough to get my vision to focus on the page again. That was for me a readers marathon. I enjoyed the intrigue and conspiracy mantality and the outright over reach of President Snow. A classic villan.

  5. Violet Evans

    Personally I thought the film was well done although it could have been slightly more exciting and action filled if not made for PG13, I felt that the book explained things in more detail and even though it has no visual forms I always liked to imagine what things look like. I would recommend the Hunger Games for anyone into the whole battle royal type of thing.

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