Prompt: Compare and contrast the second book with the film. You can either focus on a few similarities and differences between the book and the film or on one aspect of both, either storyline, characters, staging, portrayal of capitol and district 12, etc.
Again, the film adaptation of Catching Fire stays remarkably close to the book. Even much of the dialogue mirrors Collin’s words exactly. Only a few differences are major enough to mention, and of those, most of them follow the vein of the first book, offering points of view outside of Katniss’ narration alone.
The Capitol’s media manipulation of Gale into Katniss’ cousin is ignored. Katniss’ assigned ‘talent’ of clothing design, likewise, is never mentioned. Plutarch Heavensbee’s mockingjay watch goes unseen. The two escapees from District 8 in the woods are never found. The touching last day spent between Katniss and Peeta before the Games is overlooked. Most of these are likely choices meant to pare down the run time of the film and do not effect the story substantially. A larger omission is Peeta’s prosthetic leg, which, as mentioned previously, may be due to the filmmakers’ desire to minimize images of gruesome personal destruction for the sake of younger viewers.
In the opening minutes of the movie, the filmmakers add a scene that serves to dramatize Katniss’ post-traumatic mindset still further than the book. While hunting in the woods with Gale, she hallucinates, thinking she has shot a tribute. This emphasizes that Katniss has changed since the first film and is profoundly affected by the aftermath of the Games.
The kiss between Gale and Katniss at the beginning of the books is retained, and a second, initiated by Katniss of her own volition just before the reaping, is added. This is a crowd-pleasing moment for those viewers vouching for Katniss to be with Gale, but it ultimately undermines an important point Collins makes in the books: Katniss is too traumatized and emotionally damaged to commit to a relationship, either with Peeta, Gale, or anyone else.
A curious addition is the reddening of President Snow’s champaign as he takes a sip during the Victory Tour party. This detail is unclear, but presumably related to the scent of blood on Snow’s breath that Katniss repeatedly mentions in the book.
An important added scene is a conversation between Katniss and Prim in which Katniss voices her concern over how her actions will affect her family. Prim responds, “You don’t have to protect me or Mom. We’re with you.” This vital moment not only shows how much Prim has matured since Katniss saved her from the reaping, but it outlines the growing sense of rebellion within the Districts. Even gentle Prim is now on Katniss’ side, the side of defiance. It foreshadows the final act of rebellion to come in the third and fourth films.
The many asides that follow Plutarch, rather than elucidating his character as a rebel, serve to sow animosity toward him in viewers. He is depicted throughout the film as aligned with the Capitol. He lacks the moment of empathy that was present in the books’ through the reveal of his mockingjay watch at the Victory Tour party. This creates an unanticipated twist when, at the end of the film, he proves to be on Katniss’ side.
Overall, the differences between the film and book are extremely minor. For the most part, they serve to shorten the film, provide additional points of view outside of Katniss, and allude to the coming rebellion in the movies to follow (suspense, after all, has a way of drawing viewers to theaters. The filmmakers are quite loyal to Collins’ vision, a truly commendable feat when the storyline in question is difficult to film and already so beautifully done.