Film or Fiction? (May contain spoilers)

The Hunger Games Trilogy is three post-apocalyptic, teen Novels written by Suzanne Collins.  The books have captured the hearts of kids and teenagers everywhere, the fandom growing every day, the followers on social media sites over 50,000! The book describes a sixteen-year-old girl, Katniss Everdeen, battling for survival in a crumbling society. The society is divided into 12 districts, which all produce a certain item for the Capitol- the people who run the districts. Every year the Capitol hold an event called the Hunger Games, in which 12 boys and 12 girls are forced to fight to the death in an arena. It is held as punishment for when the district attempted to rebel against them in the ‘Dark Days.’ Katniss lives in the mining district- District 12, which aren’t really known for winning the Hunger Games. At first, her little sister Prim is chosen to fight, but she volunteers in her place.  In 2012, the first novel was created into a heart-wrenching, popcorn-spilling film directed by Gary Ross. The movie was a staggering success, taking the whole of the film industry by storm.  But which is better the film or the fiction? Well, usually on vast debates such as this, I would probably express the book was better. But with the Hunger Games, well I’m not so sure. Before my vision is obscured by millions of girls wearing ‘I love Peeta’ t-shirts tackling me to the ground, let me explain.

One of the normal reasons a book is superior to the film is because the irritating directors and producers left out some of the scenes portrayed on the pages. This was captured more than any other film I have seen. Everything is laid out for you just as the book did, and more. It allows you to see beyond the character of Katniss, what Gale may be doing while she is struggling for her life, how the Gamemakers cleverly design traps for the arena, the people of the Capitol glued to their televisions, wearing intense, luminous clothes and extremely scary fake eyelashes. It broadens the perspective of the story, which in my opinion is an exceptional thing.

However, because of that very reason, it is almost dissimilar to the book, how everything is told through our heroines eyes is almost the essence of the Hunger Games. Many fan-girls are aggravated by this, illustrating that the only thing we should see on the screen is what is told by Katniss. As a dedicated Hunger Games fan myself I must admit the film-makers ventured a little bit too far out of the sarcastic narrator of Katniss, and this caused much controversy between people of the HG fandom. Personally, I believe it is a satisfactory touch, as it gives an extra divergence between the film and the book.

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The actors who play the roles of the characters in the movie are preposterously good at their jobs. Of course, the fabulous Jennifer Laurence catches the soul of the fiery personality that is Miss Katniss Everdeen. She is one of those characters that no other actor could play her. From every laugh she shares with Gale, to every tear she sheds for Rue she seizes the very element of her part. However, it is not just Laurence who steals the hearts of everyone in the cinema. Elizabeth Banks is a perfect and hilarious Effie, and her character easily has the best costume design in the entire production, as it should be. There’s also some unspoken commentary to be drawn from the fact that Banks is a beautiful woman, and yet overdressed and styled as she is here, she’s a borderline horror show, which is fascinating. Woody Harrelson is an inspired Haymitch, and is actually much more believable as a former winner of the games than how he’s presented in Collins’ book. It makes a good change. Wes Bentley and Donald Sutherland are deliciously evil as Seneca Crane and President Snow, respectively.  However, Paula Malcomson as Katniss’ mother was criminally underused and spoke volumes with just her eyes in a few key scenes. Stanley Tucci, as expected, nearly stole the whole show as Caesar Flickerman. Tucci also got a surprising and welcome amount of screen time. Though I was initially sceptical, Josh Hutcherson made a flat out fantastic Peeta along with Liam Hemsworth as Gale.

 

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No matter how fantastic the acting, however, unfortunately they did miss a few scenes out which may not be too important, but still aggravating for those avid, passionate fans among us. For instance, at the ending of the fight at the Games, there’s a pretty major component of it missing. Because while those macabre-looking dog creatures are pretty deadly in the film, in the book, there was an added factor to that terror. Those mutts all had the eyes of the dead Tributes. Katniss looked into their faces and saw her fallen opponents – including Rue. This added masses of emotional grief for her as she couldn’t face the dread of someone she connected so closely with, and then watched her die. As a reader, this had a lot of impact on me as decided what to do. It was a shame that they left it out. Another example of when this happened was when in the book, Katniss and Gale are out hunting beyond the boundaries of District 12 when they see a young girl being captured by a Capitol hovercraft to be turned into an Avox (a muted slave). She cries out to them, but they can’t save her, and Katniss is haunted by the memory of that girl, whom she wasn’t able to save. It’s one of our first hints that Katniss is the kind of person who’s likely to endanger herself to try to save someone else. So when she arrives in the Capitol and recognises one of the Avoxes in her luxurious apartment as that very girl, it’s an affecting moment. Just the idea that the Capitol removes the tongues of rebels and turns them into slaves is pretty scary, but seeing that very girl again is one of many things that finally spurs Katniss into rebellion.

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However, it is needless to say that what the film lacked in staying absolutely true to the book, they made up in cinematography. You do not just watch the movie, you live inside it. You feel like you are transported into the story, in the Capitol with its deluxe accommodation and the booming sounds of applause and laughter as Caesar Flickerman interviews the tributes. You can feel the anxiety of them as they breathlessly crusade against the others, the relief as those little silver parachutes float down to them, containing medicine or food. Or even the emotion in Katniss’ eyes as she laid Rue down to rest amongst the flowers, as you blink away the tears. The scenery, the props, the costumes and the makeup are one of the best I have seen in any film. I couldn’t believe how well they captured the aura of the books with just a few special effects, and it matched the vision I had in my head perfectly. The SFX team who worked on the Hunger Games film; I applaud you.

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The Final Verdict: This was a hard one to compare- they are both correlate remarkably, and yet are quite contrasting. Although the book was something exceptional and one of the many fragments of literature that really interested me in reading, I have to admit, the film was better. This conclusion is due to the fantastic use of special effects and props and the outstanding casting. The movie had little flaws and in my opinion, one of the best films I have seen for a long time.

By Sarah Beard 80LH

 

 

 

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