Prompt: Compare and contrast the first 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.
The Hunger Games movie, for the most part, is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the book. Although slight differences abound, most of them are insignificant to the plot and can be attributed to an attempt to limit the length of the movie. Some, however, are clear inconsistencies that appear to have more meaning behind them. The filmmakers emphasize and embellish upon some details in the book while downplaying others, telling a story that is more centered upon the societal implications and far-reaching consequences of Katniss’ actions than an exact translation of the novel might have been. By omitting other details, however, the filmmakers have de-emphasized the physical brutality and emotional trauma endured by the tributes, perhaps in an attempt to make the movies more palatable for younger viewers.
In the book, readers must rely on Katniss’ narration as the only source of information. This restriction is lifted in the film, allowing the filmmakers to expand on impressions and implications in the book. For instance, Seneca Crane, who is essentially a faceless name in the books, becomes a character with whom the viewer can sympathize. His motivations reveal further detail about the true nature of the Capitol’s control over the districts and the Games. Haymitch is shown encouraging citizens of the Capitol to sponsor Katniss and even negotiating with Crane himself for the good of his tributes. In another scene, a riot in District 11 occurs after Rue’s death. The events of the book implies that these things may well be taking place, but it is these crucial added scenes that create an image of the Games that is intricately controlled and vitally important to Panem’s government. These brief scenes sidestep from Katniss’ main narrative, providing a broader view of the tension within Panem. With these inclusions, the filmmakers begin building toward an impending climax–of turmoil and, ultimately, revolution–in the following films.
Certain details of the films are altered or omitted entirely in order to minimize the horror endured by Katniss, Peeta, and the other tributes. One of the more notable is the manifestation of the dog-like muttations that kill Cato. Not only would human-like eyes on a dog and Katniss’ quiet realization that the mutts reflect the dead tributes be difficult to portray on film, but it may be entirely too much for younger viewers, and it is a reasonable alteration to the storyline. Cato’s death itself is also very much downplayed. Rather than being eaten away by dogs for hours upon hours until he can barely plead for death, he dies mercifully and quickly with little graphic violence depicted. Physical injuries to our main characters are also diminished. Katniss’ hearing loss, while ultimately impermanent in the books, is never mentioned in the film. The loss of Peeta’s leg is also left out, even though it comes to affect his performance in the second Games in book two of the series. It may be beneficial for younger viewers to keep these gory details to a minimum, although it does take away an important aspect of the story: these games are brutal. They ravage the bodies of twenty-four children in gruesome style and then destroy the minds of the few who survive. Perhaps a young child doesn’t need to see the ultimate horrific insult added to injury as Rue in mutt form attacks Katniss, who is still wracked with guilt from the girl’s loss. Perhaps they are better off not learning that Cato, the villain, was ultimately nothing more than another scared little boy in the end. But readers of Collin’s books can still bear witness to these details in all their bloody glory, and for many reasons, it may be a horror worth knowing.