The Spoiler Zone: analysis of The Hunger Games
I’ve already given you my overall take on The Hunger Games movie, but I wanted to comment a bit more on some of the significant changes from the book to the movie. To do that, I’ll have to “spoil” parts of the movie…if you haven’t seen it yet and haven’t read the book, you may want to wait to read this post until you do.
These are just going to be some random thoughts, and I may add to them. I just want to get them down while it is still fresh.
Haymitch is made more charming, more sympathetic. The line “Congratulations, you just killed a placemat” is not in the original book, and it makes us smile. We see Haymitch actually working the Capital for sponsors. We know that’s happening in the book (well, we find out it must have), but it’s different to see it. Haymitch talking to the Gamemaker to propose the “young love” storyline? Definitely makes the “mentor” more likeable. We also see Haymitch refusing or not taking a drink…that seems sooner than in the books. However, it makes sense to me: Haymitch’s advice to win is to “make friends”…the Haymitch in the book doesn’t seem to know how do to that. It’s not unusual for people to give advice they don’t follow, but I understand them doing this in a movie…and casting Woody Harrelson to bring a mischievous grin to the part.
Katniss is significantly weakened by taking away drugging Peeta to enable Katniss to go to the feast against Peeta’s wishes. It’s very different for Katniss to have simply snuck away than to have actively knocked Peeta out with sleep syrup. It also, again, makes Haymitch more sympathetic, because the mentor doesn’t give Katniss the necessary drugs to ensure that the choice isn’t Peeta’s to make.
The exchange between President Snow and Seneca Crane (the Gamemaker) about “containing” the spark that is Katniss? Not in the book, although we know those considerations probably happened. This moves Snow more forward…and gives us more of a motivation for Crane’s fate later on.
There were things in the movie that could have been much flashier, and it was interesting that they didn’t do that. In the book, I conceived as the outfits in the tribute parade as engulfing Katniss and Peeta in flames, and in the movie, it was much more subtle than that. The same thing was true with the mutts (mutants) at the end of the movie…honestly, they were quite plain looking. I think that was wise on the part of the moviemakers.
The tracker jacker sequence was also moderated, with the hallucinations not being as pronounced. Again, I think that focuses the movie more on the characters…that works.
We didn’t see much of the prep team, but that was okay with me…we will later, I presume. I was okay with the switch on how the mockingjay pin gets to Katniss. While the character who originally gives it in the novel becomes more important later, I can see how we can work without it.
Oh, and I was particularly impressed that when we see Rue’s father, he is short. That was a good sign of attention to detail. Rue isn’t just young: she probably looks younger than she is, and having her father be short makes sense.
So, what did you notice? Feel free to let me know.
UPDATE: Thanks to my reader agrazalvaro for pointing out that I had confused mockingjays and jabberjays. In the movie, I expected the birds within the game to mock human words, but that was just my mistake. The book says:
“One they didn’t die off. Instead the jabberjays mated with female mockingbirds, creating a whole new species that could replicate both bird whistles and human melodies. They had lost the ability to enunciate words but could still mimic a child’s high-pitched warble to a man’s deep tones.”
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.