From Book to Film: The Hunger Games

Posted on March 28, 2012 in Thoughts / 2 Comments

Last weekend, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games opened, and was a blockbuster by Sunday night.  Its weekend revenues are third only to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and The Dark Knight.  And, oh yeah, it’s the highest grossing opening weekend ever for a non-sequel.


I read the Hunger Games trilogy last year, and like most the people I know, I was floored by it.  It was something different, something fresh.  It was dystopian, it was action, it was sci-fi, it had a strong female protagonist, and it had (almost) absolutely no romance in it.  To call The Hunger Games an unusual story in our sparkly-vampire driven world of teen literature is an understatement.  Did I mention it had a strong female protagonist?  I love (and hate) Katniss on so many different levels… but that’s a story for another day.

I went to see it Saturday evening in iMax with some of my friends who had also read the book, and we all came out with the same opinion – it was amazing.  Not perfect, but amazing.  For those of you how followed either the Harry Potter or Twilight series to the silver screen, you know the feel of heartbreak when the movie doesn’t exactly follow the book.  I followed Harry Potter, and I will be fair and say somewhere in the middle, I was desensitized and learned how to see the two as separate entities.  For those of you who have not yet reached that level of tolerance, I think that you will not be disappointed in the new Hunger Games film. Suzanne Collins was incredibly involved in the writing of the script, and all the important bits are there.  Sure, there is stuff missing… but everything we fell in love with is there.  Wow.  A book lover could hardly ask for more.

Notable missing things:

  • The Mockingjay Pin:  The Mockingjay pin is given to Katniss by Prim in the movie – not by the mayor’s daughter.  It’s a minor thing, but actually adds to the sisterly relationship, and works fine, even if it’s not accurate.
  • Katniss’ Inner Monologue: The Hunger Games is written in Katniss’ voice and the movie does not have her inner monologue.  Personally, I am glad for this, as I’d hate for it to start to feel like a documentary or Kevin Costner film, but I’ve had people remind me that the missing information is in my head because I read the book, whereas those who haven’t may be at a loss.
  • The Gore:  At the end of the day, The Hunger Games is a giant battlefield, where 24 teenagers kill one another.  This film, purposely rated PG-13 so that the book’s intended audience (12 y/os and up) could go see the movie, had to do a delicate dance around the book’s subject, and the cinematic portrayal.  About half of the people I talked to thought that they did an excellent job showing violence without showing gore, where the other half were disappointed.  Obviously, I’m in the first half:  I think the quality of a film should be taken from it’s story, not the amount of blood you get to see.
  • Katniss’ Confession:  Those who have read the book will remember Katniss’ conversation with Peeta at the end of it, regarding their relationship.  That is not in the movie.  It isn’t to say it won’t be at the beginning of Catching Fire, but I had spoken to people who were disappointed with its absence.

Honestly, that is all I can think of.  I couldn’t be happier for Suzanne Collins and the success of her story, and I feel very fortunate to be swept back into another loyal fanbase, just after Harry Potter has ended.  Books bring people together, but when they become successful films… then even more people can share the amazing stories.


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