The process of adapting a novel into a two hour film is not an easy one. Directors and play writers have to determine which pieces to focus on, what parts must be dropped, and which theme will they choose to emphasize the most. The possibility of creating a movie exactly like the book it was inspired by is nearly impossible. Naturally, The Hunger Games is no exception to this system. Author, Suzanne Collins creates a world far beyond our wildest imaginations and drops us straight into the middle of the chaos known as “the games”.
It is the prerogative of the director to shape the story however he chooses, in order to capture his audience. For Gary Ross, capturing our attention was not hard with the storyline. How could we not be captivated by a heroine who was prepared to save herself at whatever cost, especially with a love story in the mix. The basic plot of The Hunger Games was not lost in translation from book to screen, only a few details managed to change.
One of the biggest differences in the adaptation was the lack of Madge, the mayor’s daughter.
Madge is not one of the main characters by far, but she is important in distinguishing the differences between the two classes in district 12. She is the one who gives Katniss the mocking jay pin, and instead of using her in the movie, they have Katniss find the pin at the Hob. Madge may not be necessary for this particular part of the saga, but in the later books, I’m not sure how the director is going to get around leaving her out. Another difference is that the story is not told from Katniss’ point of view.
In film, it is difficult to have a voice over going throughout the entire movie, and so rather than have Katniss’ thoughts and inner monologues, Ross used other characters such as Caesar Flickerman and the other announcer to tell what was happening during the games, as well as filming from Katniss’ point of view to show what she was seeing. While the film and book are different in these ways, they both capture the spirit and livelihood of Katniss, and Peeta’s strong, passionate love. In my first response paper, I analyzed the character of Primrose Everdeen in the text.
In the text, Prim seemed to be a very young, very sweet, very calm child; however, with the opening scene into district 12, we are met by the high pitched scream of this young girl. I personally thought that Willow Shields, the actress portraying Prim, looked too old for her part. Prim is supposed to barely be twelve years old, and even though they dressed her in very modest clothing, she just looked older, as if she had experienced more than she should have. In Prim’s life, she is supposed to be carefree and gentle as the wind, but something in her face made her seem older.
Katniss refers to her as a “little duck” when the back of her blouse keeps coming un-tucked from her skirt; this made me feel like Prim was still a small child. She does not appear much in the film, other than at the reaping, in the room for goodbyes, and at the very end. Prim’s character was well played and Shields did an excellent job of being a frightened twelve year old. I think it may have just been the way that the book portrays Prim made me feel like she should be less aware of the real world, and more of a nine or ten year old, even though we’re told her actual age.
My next response paper focused on the theme of hidden rebellion, a theme that did not go unnoticed when the text was adapted into film. Rebellion was openly shown through Gale in the beginning when he was in the woods with Katniss, giving her his speech of running away, joining the districts together to fight against the Capitol. Things become much more subtle at the reaping when the crowd sends their sign of respect up to Katniss and Haymitch clumsily falls off the stage, a move I still believe was a way to capture the camera’s attention to keep the scent of rebellion out of President Snow’s nose.
Cinna is a beacon of hidden rebellion; dressing in simple clothing, using as little makeup as possible, creating “the girl on fire”, and hiding the mocking jay pin inside of Katniss’ jacket to go with her into the arena. Once Katniss is inside of the arena, we do not hear her thoughts as we did in the book; however, we can see what she sees and what she does. For instance, many times she gives a quick grin, a slight nod of the head, or a knowing look in the direction of a hidden camera.
While these actions put on a nice show for the people of the Capitol, President Snow is catching on to her schemes and her true personality, even if she doesn’t see it yet. The conversation between President Snow and Seneca was enough to give anyone chills and fear of a rebellion. Many themes can fall by the wayside in recreating a novel into a film, but the theme of hidden rebellion is far from hidden in this movie. Director Gary Ross’ vision for this film was an exquisite representation of what the world of the Panem would look like.
The gloominess of District 12 was well represented by the grey scale coloring of the Seem, and the town as a whole. The entire time they are in District 12, the skies are grey, the background appears blue, and the people are unhappy. The colors of the Capitol are much more bright and vibrant, showing happy faces, lovely costumes, and interesting designs. By looking at the mise-en-scene, you can tell the emotions of each character, the feel of the places, and the living conditions without having to hear a word.
The actors chosen to play these roles followed their characters in ways that gave a perfect description of their personalities given in the book. In District 12, their costumes helped to distinguish who was a part of the Seam and who belonged to the merchant class. The outrageous costumes in the Capitol distinguished nothing, other than the fact that these people were from the Capitol. The editing of the shots was well put together; between the actual outsider’s view, to the scenes from Katniss’ own views. Without hearing Katniss’ thoughts, it is good for us to have her views of the arena when tragedies strike, like the tracker jackers.
When I read a book, I’m weary of watching to accompanying film, always worried about whether or not I will be disappointed in the movie. Nine times out of ten, I am a little let down, simply because when reading, I am able to imagine this new world however I so desire. The Hunger Games was an impressive adaptation of the book, but I still feel like a few things could have been different to better follow Suzanne Collins story. Then again, I always feel like if you would just allow me to direct the film, it would be perfect, and we all know that is not the case.
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