In this Blog entry, please 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 is a compelling story that draws the reader or the viewer in very quickly and allows the story to progress with a mixture of introspection and action. However, the book and the movie had a couple of differences that made a major impact on me when I watched the movie for the first time. While most of these changes do not fundamentally change the feel or the emotions that the book elicited, I certainly do not understand why some of the moments were changed.
One of the first differences that I noticed was the origins of the Mockingjay pin. In the movie, Katniss asks a shopkeeper how much the Mockingjay pin would cost on the morning of the Reaping, and the shopkeeper gives it to her. However, in the book, Katniss receives the pin from the Mayor’s daughter, Madge, which starts one of her first moments of introspection about who her true friends are and if she has any. This change eliminated Madge entirely from the story in the movie. Further, in the book, Katniss is allowed to wear her pin as her token from her district into the arena. However, in the movie, Cinna hides the Mockingjay pin underneath her suit. The changes to the Mockingjay pin may seem minor, but they actually made me really angry when I first saw the movie. The Mockingjay becomes a pivotal symbol in the series, and it did not make sense to me to change its origin and slightly its significance in the movie. The main reason I can see for the change in the origin of the pin is because it makes it seem like a connection between Prim and Katniss, but in my opinion, her doubts about Madge’s friendship sets the stage for many of her other trust issues and adds additional support. However, a movie cannot always take every detail from the book, or it would be simply too long.
Another change I noticed in the movie was that the Avox girl never appeared in the Capitol. In the book, when Katniss sees the Avox she is startled and it leads to her memories about her being captured and the boy that was with her being executed in the woods outside of District 12. It shows part of the reason she was afraid to leave District 12 before the Reaping with Gale and it also shows the depth of the Capitol’s cruelty to those who are defiant. Further, Katniss wonders if the Avox girl would be glad if she died in the arena, which shows that Katniss feels responsible for what happens around her, even when it was really not within her control. In my opinion, this change took away a lot of the viewer’s insight into who Katniss was outside of her skills and talents in the arena. The viewer rarely gets to understand why Katniss is so unwilling to trust, other than the basic principles that her mother let her down and she is in a game where everyone could kill her.
Another major change that I noticed today, when we viewed a portion of the film in class, was the difference in how Thresh is killed. In the book, several aspects point to Cato as the ultimate demise of Thresh. Thresh killed Clove and right before she died she called to Cato for help. Further, the book implies that Cato caught up to Thresh and killed him in the tall grass. However, in the movie, the wild dogs spawn right before you hear screams and Thresh appears in the sky after the cannon blast. In all honesty, this change did not affect me as much as some of the others because it was lost in the end of movie theatrics in the movie. However, it is interesting that the director would chose to imply that the dogs killed thresh. The only theory I have as to why would be to make the dogs appear more menacing; especially since in the film, the dogs having the dead tributes eyes and the collars were lost.
One last set of major changes was the visits before Katniss and Peeta left for the Capitol. In the movie, Katniss is only visited by Gale, Prim, and her mother and they are touching scenes, but also very harshly ended. However, in the book, Katniss is also visited by Madge (the mayor’s daughter) and Peeta’s father, who gives her cookies that she later throws out because she doesn’t understand the reasoning behind it. Peeta’s father offers to help make sure that Prim and her mother are okay, and she doesn’t understand why until later in the book when she learns from Peeta that his father was in love with her mother; but her mother chose Katniss’s father instead. This draws an interesting similarity to the issues between Peeta, Gale, and Katniss later on, but it wasn’t a major plot point during the first book.
There were several other changes as well between the book and the movie. I am not going to go into detail on all of them, but the pin, the loss of the Avox girl, and Thresh’s death caught my interest the most. Another major change was showing the start of the rebellion in the movie, when in the book Katniss’s knowledge of what goes on in District 11 is very limited. The movie also fails to delve into why Katniss connected with Rue, other than the help with the tracker jacker venom. In the book, it is a huge deal to Katniss that she was able to step in for her sister, but no one volunteered for Rue and it leads her to want to help Rue and protect her.