The Hunger Games: Book vs. Film

This is my first time to blog about a film, and the reason I’m doing this is that I’d like to analyze in the future other film adaptations of my favorite fantasy book series (e.g., LOTR, the Chronicles of Narnia, A Song of Ice and Fire).

In an earlier post, I gave the Hunger Games book 3 stars out of 5. I’m also giving the Hunger Games film the same rating for the following reasons.

First would be the top 3 things I appreciate about the film, which are:

  • The film manages to portray the violence in the book without being too gory (cf. Battle Royale).
  • The film contrasts very well the poverty and oppression in the districts on one hand and the sickening extravagance and apathy in the Capitol on the other.
  • The film manages to keep the action flowing; there doesn’t seem to be any dull moments.

However, here are the top 3 things I believe this film could have done better (or hope that the film adaptations of the other two books would do):

  • The film could have been more careful about the details. I understand that many details need to be omitted; otherwise, we’d have a miniseries. For example, I understand that Peeta’s leg did not have to be amputated in the film; the author herself seems to have forgotten this detail in the later books anyway. However, the film could have paid more careful attention to Buttercup (see the excerpt here to know more about the cat), who, in the end, would be Prim’s gift to Katniss. The film could also have used the dialogue below (from Chapter 22, in the cave), which would then make clear the steadfastness of Peeta’s character as well as his love for Katniss:

“Peeta,” I say lightly. “You said at the interview you’d had a crush on me forever. When did forever start?”

“Oh, let’s see. I guess the first day of school. We were five. You had on a red plaid dress and your hair…it was in two braids instead of one. My father pointed you out when we were waiting to line up,” Peeta says.

“Your father? Why?” I ask.

“He said, ‘See that little girl? I wanted to marry her mother, but she ran off with a coal miner,’” Peeta says.

“What? You’re making that up!” I exclaim.

“No, true story,” Peeta says. “And I said, ‘A coal miner? Why did she want a coal miner if she could’ve had you?’ And he said, ‘Because when he sings…even the birds stop to listen.’”

“That’s true. They do. I mean, they did,” I say. I’m stunned and surprisingly moved, thinking of the baker telling this to Peeta. It strikes me that my own reluctance to sing, my own dismissal of music might not really be that I think it’s a waste of time. It might be because it reminds me too much of my father.

“So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She stood you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, every bird outside the windows fell silent,” Peeta says.

“Oh, please,” I say, laughing.

“No, it happened. And right when your song ended, I knew—just like your mother—I was a goner,” Peeta says. “Then for the next eleven years, I tried to work up the nerve to talk to you.”

  • Though I respect Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson as actors (both were in award-winning films before), their characters in the film do not seem to mesh quite well. I hope that the scripts of the future film adaptations will remedy this.

  • As I wrote in my review of the trilogy, several important characters remained one-dimensional throughout the trilogy: Habermitch, Gale, President Snow, President Coin. Hopefully, this will be addressed in the film versions of Books 2 and 3.
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