For my first Book to Film Friday I thought it would be best to start with the YA Dystopia that, in my opinion, kicked off a whole generation of book to film adaptations; The Hunger Games. Since its popularity exploded seemingly overnight, The Hunger Games appears to have inspired a huge number of similar dystopian, blood-thirsty plots, with every new addition to the genre being compared to it. I really enjoyed this series of books and I remember being impressed with the way they were (and are still being!) adapted to film.
One of the major things I loved about the book series was the way the style really made me feel like a part of the action. I must admit, while at first I found the first person and present tense narrative a little jarring, it really grew on me as I realised the effect it was having. For me, this was a really clever move from Suzanne Collins as it draws the reader straight into the novel, making them really relate to Katniss in a deeply connected way.
I was so happy with the way the movie managed to capture that same feeling. The up-close camera angles and the sometimes shaky filming created that notion of being part of the action and really pulled me in to the story again. I loved how raw and candid the film felt, and for me the whole style and tone worked incredibly well. This was especially apparent at The Reaping; it was scary and way too close for comfort (especially that Capitol film – shudder).
I thought almost all the actors chosen to play the characters were just perfect. I especially loved Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss; she was mature and strong and captured those complex emotions hidden by a stoney exterior so, so well. She’s a brilliant, talented actress and The Hunger Games really kicked off her career. I remember some people not being happy with Jennifer as she wasn’t ‘skinny’ enough, which drove me crazy. I despise this notion that women have to look a certain way to be successful and Jennifer has said some really poignant words about this very topic. To me, while Katniss was struggling I never pictured her as painfully thin, and even if that were the case I would never expect an actress to put their health at risk to achieve that.
I really enjoyed seeing Woody Harrelson as Haymitch too, brilliant light-relief and just how I pictured him in the book. However, his alcohol issues were resolved more than a little too easily for me. The film kind of diminished his complexity by undermining the way he had learned to cope with the horrors of his own Hunger Games experience and I felt a bit cheated by it. I realise some things need to be sacrified in the process of adapting a film from a novel, but I feel like it shouldn’t have been this.
My favourite scene of the movie has to be Rue’s death. It was handled so sensitively and beautifully that yes, I definitely did cry! Jennifer was brilliant in portraying that raw, sisterly emotion and caused mass heartbreak across the world. It was done exactly how I pictured it in the book and couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out. It’s such an important, pivotal moment in the story, as Katniss experiences loss and realises what is at stake, and it was perfect.
At the opposite end, I really didn’t connect with the bread scene where Peeta throws Katniss food as she lies starving in the rain. In the book it was a moment something Katniss was truly ashamed of, hating Peeta for seeing that weakness in her, whereas in the film it wasn’t nearly as important. The scene didn’t feel significant or potent in any way, and without the explanation and insight into Katniss’ emotions that comes with the novel it just didn’t come across very well.
My only real annoyance in terms of deviating from the plot was the story behind the Mockingjay pin. It pains me how different the film version made this; its origins don’t mean anything significant in the film but the pin has such a wonderful back-story in the books. Not only this, they cut out a whole character to make this change and the only person Katniss was friends with! I get the desire to isolate Katniss and make it all about Prim and Gale, but damn does it annoy me!
I hope you liked my first post for this feature! I’d love to chat about your thoughts on both the book and the film and even the rest of the series, so let’s start a discussion in the comments!