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Hunger Games Movie Versus Book

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It is commonly seen when a book is turned into a movie, to have significant changes and alterations. Some add up to the overall thrill movie-makers want to create for their audience, some fail to depict the writer’s thoughts when writing the book. The novel “Hunger Games” is among those books that have been incarnated in movie theaters all over the globe. However, Suzanne Collins, writer of The Hunger Games, would most certainly question several parts of her trilogy’s adaptation, as the movie has some inevitable alterations that differ from the original writing. Some parts of the book have been erased, while some characters have also been removed. What saves the movie from completely deviating from the original is that Collins herself has been the co-writer of the screenplay; therefore the core story is successfully depicted in the movie, regardless of the differences that are found on the screen, when compared to the book. The purpose of this paper is to define the differences between the two and evaluate whether the original message that the writer wanted to pass on to her audience is faded.

Hunger Games is about a young teenager, Katniss that is a tough hunter and brings food to the table, after her father’s death. She lives in District 12 in a city called Panem. Every year the Capitol of the city hosts an event called Hunger Games, where 2 civilians, called “tributes”, of opposite sexes are selected from each district to fight to the death in an arena. When Katniss’ sister was selected, Katniss offers herself to replace her sister in the arena.

As a quick summary, I would say one of the discrepancies between the movie and the book are the way they treat the relationship of Katniss and Rue, Katniss’ protégé in the game, and then the death of Rue, including the reaction of Rue’s district to her death. A second major discrepancy is a fact that in the book the Mocking Jay pin is given to Katniss by the mayor’s daughter and in the film it is given to her by an unknown old woman. In the movie there is also a third-person account of what is occurring outside of the games, including the game-maker and what he is doing and what is going on with Gale back in the district. This does not occur in the book. The last major discrepancy is the mutts that are used by the game-maker toward the end of the games. They are toned down quite a bit in the movie and look mostly like vicious dogs. In the book they have the eyes of the dead Tributes and are quite twisted. In the end, the film does distort the novel to some degree, but in many ways complements it as well.

Going over the discrepancies of the movie versus the book more thoroughly, one can tell from the start that the reaction towards Rue’s death is changed. In particular, in the book Katniss is the sole person aware of the dropped into the arena token that she was given by District 11 as a sign of appreciation for her noble acts, while in the movie there is a far greater fuss going on over the reaction of the District 11.

Rue becomes more of an iconic figure throughout the sequels of the movie, with the latest been released on November 22, 2013. Such is evident after Rue dies from a villain killer and people of District 11 start to form a revolution, opposing Capitol patrol officers. Of course, this fight between District 11 and the government is shown to a greater extent in the movie, probably for viewing pleasure.

Another major difference is that there is no Avox girl, as one can read in the book. Although one might say that it is a minor character that could as well be omitted from the movie, the Avox girl has an important back story with Katniss. While reading the novel, at the time when Katniss is getting ready for the Games, there are some Capitol people that she meets with and serve drinks and food to her. One of the Capitol servants is an Avox girl that has a distinctive place in Katniss’s memories. That particular Avox servant is remembered by Katniss as a girl that was desperately trying to escape from the Capitol but was eventually under arrest by the government and had her tongue removed after being charged with treachery. Katniss appears with feelings of remorse for not having attempted to save that Avox girl, which is a back-story never portrayed at full on-screen.

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Another diversified illustration of death forms the next difference and involves Thresh. In the book, Thresh is implied to have been murdered by Cato, who is the wicked person that everybody accepts as a vicious cold-hearted man that has no problem breaking his ally’s neck if he needs to. On the other hand, Thresh is assumed to have been killed by some dogs that have been released in the arena, to kill some tributes that remain alive. That difference has affected the remaining tributes’ showdown intensity.

In the novel, Katniss volunteers and prepares herself for the Hunger Games, with Haymitch and Cinna helping her. Once entering the games, her only focus is on making them through. However, this is not the case when watching the movie, as there is a lot of backstage information passed on to the audience. For that reason President Snow and Seneca appear with largely bigger roles in the film. People also see how the producers of the Games try to manipulate the tributes to keep them closer to one another and what a tremendous amount of effort is needed to get the Hunger Games going and make them appealing to the world of entertainment.

Deriving from the pre-mentioned fact that some minor characters in the book have a more extended role on screen, the Game Maker gets his own big time in the movie, while he is barely showcased in the book. His games, however, bear the same confounded outcome in both the written and visual world and although the book does not give much extend to the fate of the Game Maker until the Catching Fire sequel, in the movie the Maker is faced with a one-way option: to kill himself by eating poisonous berries. Just like he had set death traps for other people to fall into, he had fallen onto his trap, and death was the only choice he could make, facing the consequences of his wrongdoings.

Katniss’ best friend is Gale (Hawthorne), based on the story as given in the book. They both spend much time together, hunting and having fun and Katniss appears on a constant evaluation of the feelings she nurtures for Gale. However, when she enters the Games, Gale seems like a forgotten character that lives in Katniss’s mind. I the movie, though, Gale is shown to have an active role even after the Games begin, as he is shown to closely monitor Katniss’ movements in the Games and her developed relationship with another tribute.

Rue’s relationship with Katniss is also demonstrated dubiously. In the book they share a strong empathy and appreciation for each other and form a kind of alliance in the Hunger Games. Rue becomes Katniss’ protegee because the former reminds the latter’s younger sister. That particular solidarity stays unrevealed on screen.

Last, but not least, Katniss gets several people she cherished and loved visiting her before she sets off to the Games fights. Some of them are Gale alongside her sister and mother and Peeta’s father, who comes with his hands full. In particular, he offers Katniss cookies that are later on thrown away by Katniss. Those scenes are excluded from the film and the connection between Katniss and Peeta’s family is suppressed.

Of course, many will claim that all those changes were inevitable. However, at the altar of enhanced and multiple viewing, which in turn means additional income, movie-makers loose essential aspects of the writer’s viewpoint. Fortunately, in Hunger Games, this is kept in low levels and deviations are not that serious, unlike other book-to-movie scenarios.

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Hunger Games Movie Versus Book. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/hunger-games-movie-versus-book/
“Hunger Games Movie Versus Book.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/hunger-games-movie-versus-book/
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Hunger Games Movie Versus Book [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Nov 25 [cited 2024 Mar 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/hunger-games-movie-versus-book/
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