Google+ YA Romantics: Five things you might not understand about the Hunger Games

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Five things you might not understand about the Hunger Games

...movie if you haven't read the book.

Five things you might not understand about the Hunger Games movie if you haven't read the book.

You've probably seen the Hunger Games movie by now. I did, and I absolutely loved it! It was amazing to see such a great book brought to life on the big screen.

But as I was reading movie reviews, I realized there were a few things in the film that were hard to fully understand if you hadn't read the book. No spoilers ahead!

1. The Mockingjay.
Yes, the movie changed the way that Katniss got her pin. Instead of Madge, the mayor's daughter, giving it to Katniss, she gets it in the Hob. But the movie also didn't fully explain the symbolism of the Mockingjay.  Katniss says:

"They're funny birds and something of a slap in the face to the Capitol. During the rebellion, the Capitol bred a series of genetically altered animals as weapons. One was a special bird called a jabberjay ... the jabberjays mated with female mockingjays, creating a whole new species ... My father was particularly fond of mockingjays... Whenever my father sang, all the birds in the area would fall silent and listen. [The pin] is like having a piece of my father with me, protecting me."

2. The Reaping and the Tesserae.
The movie made it seem like everyone in District 12 was equally poor. In the book, there's also a merchant class, like Peeta's family, and the members of the town government, like Madge's. What the movie glosses over is that kids like Katniss and Gale have a far greater chance of getting picked as Tributes. Here's what Katniss says about it in the book:

"The reaping system is unfair ... You become eligible for the reaping the day you turn twelve.  That year, your name is entered once. At thirteen twice. And so on and so on ... But here's the catch. Say you are poor and starving, as we were. You can opt to add your name more times in exchange for tesserae. Each tessera is worth a meager years supply of grain and oil..."

Changing the way Katniss got the pin eliminated the scene when Gale confronts Madge about only having her name in the reaping a few times.

The Tributes, 74th annual Hunger Games

3. Careers.
One of my favorite movie reviewers remarked that Katniss isn't really an underdog, that hard luck kids like Katniss must have a huge advantage in the Games over the pampered teens from the Capitol. What? No way. Katniss describes the so-called Careers, the:

"kids from the wealthier districts, the volunteers, the ones who have been fed and trained throughout their lives for this moment... It's technically against the rules to train tributes before they reach the Capitol, but it happens every year. In District 12, we call them the Career Tributes, or just the Careers. And like as not, the winner will be one of them."

Katniss Everdeen

4. The Arena. The same reviewer also said that Katniss also had an advantage because the Games take place in the woods. My understanding is that a new and different Arena is created each year. The book says that "the Arena could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland."

5. The Muttations
My favorite reviewer also didn't get these either. He called the mutations "were-dogs." Yikes. Yet I could understand his confusion. As explained in #1, muttations are genetically altered animal-weapons. Maybe showing mutations as described in the book would have been way too creepy. The book describes that final action scene at the end of the Games like this:
"The mutts are beginning to assemble... They put their snouts on the horn, sniffing and tasting the metal, scraping paws over the surface, and then making high-pitched yipping sounds to one another... They are unmistakably human. And that revelation has barely registered when I notice the collar with the number 1 inlaid with jewels and the whole horrible thing hits me ... it's Glimmer."
And Foxface. And all the other Tributes.
If the mutations had been like that the movie, I would have covered my eyes!!

Have you seen the movie? What do you think?

If you're new to the blog, have you taken my Hunger Games Trivia quiz?

26 comments:

  1. I was trying to explain some things to my hubs. He was really confused about a few things in the movie since he didn't read the books. This is a great post!!

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    1. Thanks -- going to email you about the other book :)

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  2. I really enjoyed the movie. It was a great adaptation. But, I did have to explain some of the things to my dad when he saw it (which the whole muttations with the creepy tribute eyes took a long time to make it understandable). I felt not explaining the Mockingjay was a HUGE thing. It becomes so important later... We'll have to wait and see what they do. :D

    Thanks for doing this explanation thing for all those people who didn't read and might not understand it. It's a good idea! :)

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    1. I know it's impossible to fit everything from in a book into a movie. They clearly focused a lot of time on the Capitol scenes and the Games.

      I think you're right -- the whole Mockingjay thing is also important in subsequent books. So I'm sure they'll get to it.

      It was so exciting to see the movie, though. Except that the couple in front of me was (loudly) kissing the whole time. Seriously? Sit in the back row for that.

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  3. I haven't seen the movie yet (I love the HG books, even though I haven't featured much on my blog about the movie) but not including that about the mutts, seriously?! What a missed opportunity! With CGI and all the special fx these days, the film makers could have done something really awesome w/ that:( Yet more proof that you should always READ the book kids!!!

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    1. The mutts are there, just not exactly as in the book.

      I usually refuse to see a movie until I've read the book, because I think it's harder to read the book afterwards. But I do it backwards some times too!

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  4. I was so sad they didn't get into the mutations more in the movie. It was one thing I was really looking forward to seeing how they handled and they they just didn't.

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    1. I know they were worried about the rating. Maybe that had something to do with it. Unlike you guys, I was hoping that the movie wasn't too scary, so I didn't mind all that much.

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  5. The careers were absolutely explained in the movie. I think there was a line about them going to special schools to train. Different than in the book, but whoever wrote that review you read must not have been paying attention.

    Most of these changes didn't bother me. I think it made the story stronger as a movie. Nothing can replace my love for the book, though. I made my friend go with me to the movie (kicking and screaming) opening weekend and she loved it. She has about 100 pages left in Mockingjay now. I can't wait to leave other books around her house for her to pick up.

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    1. You're right. And in the movie Katniss and Gale do have a brief conversation about how many times each of their names have been put in. But clearly this reviewer didn't get any of that!

      The changes didn't bother me at all -- I just felt bad that this reviewer didn't really like the movie. But I guess it's fair that he evaluated it on the basis of just the film, not the book.

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  6. Freaking love the movie... All this confusion and unnecessary criticisms to the movie are lame. This is why I make sure to read the book first (if I can help it) before seeing the movie... it makes more sense obviously if the book is read first

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    1. That is true. I remember explaining things about Harry Potter movies to people and thinking, "Just Read the Books!!!!!"

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    2. But yeah, the criticisms about Rue and Cinna and Jennifer being "too fat" to be a hungry character? Wow, people are soooo dumb... I actually was so happy when I saw a picture of Jennifer Lawrence in a bathing suit I think. She definitely has curves and big thighs. So that makes me feel so inspired and better about myself. We need more people like her to look up to.

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    3. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing!!! Rue in the movie was exactly as I imagined her -- she had a mischievous glint in her eye that was so perfect.

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    4. They were all perfect I think. I just love them all. Even Cato haha. I felt so bad for him at the end. The Capitol changed him into a monster

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  7. Excellent post, Jen! I bet this is really helpful for those who have not read the books. I had to explain some of this stuff to my friends because they haven't read them. I especially like that you mentioned the mutts. It didn't particularly bother me that they weren't human-like, but I did explain to my friends that in the book they WERE.

    But the Careers are mentioned in the movie. Maybe the reviewer just wasn't paying good enough attention! :)

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    1. Agree! And I didn't mind the movie mutts at all.

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  8. This is a great post Jen! I actually haven't gone to see the movie yet. I really want to but I'm afraid seeing the violence of the games on screen will freak me out more so than it did in the books...

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    1. I thought the movie handled that well. Nothing is extremely graphic. I really don't like violent/scary movies any more (I used to!) and I was just fine. Give it a try!

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  9. Great post! I always read the books before seeing the movie...I have spent hours explaining Harry Potter to my husband! And Twilight! I loved the movie, so so much! Best movie I've seen in a long while...right up there with HP and the Dealthy Hallows. Made Twilight movies look like a farce!

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the movie too!
      It is annoying to watch a movie with someone who doesn't understand stuff -- unless you're at home and can keep hitting "pause." Even then, it is sort of a pain ....

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  10. Very good post. Tons to think about. This is why movies will never be as good as books. There's no way they can cover everything. It would drive me crazy to watch this w/someone who never read the book.

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    1. Yes! And if the person you go with has read the book, you can have a way better discussion afterwards.

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  11. HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK!!! Are you crazy?

    This was my daughter's response as she read the post over my shoulder.

    The apple does not fall far..

    I don't have a problem changing SOME things to make a movie work.

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    1. I know, I know.
      But a lot of people still haven't read it!!!

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  12. This is a great post, Jen!

    I wish they had explained more about the Mockingjay, but I guess there's more time to do that in the next film maybe? Hopefully they won't wait until the third film!

    And they kind of mentioned the whole Career thing, but I think if you hadn't read the book you might not have caught it.

    And yeah, that's a shame that they didn't explain that the arenas are always different. I mean, Caesar kind of mentions it when Katniss is watching TV - he talks about that one kill from a previous Games, and says something about how great the arena was, but that's all they really say about the differences in the arena. Just wait until that reviewer sees Catching Fire!!!

    And I agree, if they had done the Mutts like they were described in the book, I totally would have had nightmares! But I do wish they were a bit more like they were in the book.

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