The Hunger Games: An Exemplary Adaptation

Lionsgate's 'The Hunger Games' movie poster.

Andrea Philippides

Unless you have been living under a rock the past month or so, you have probably noticed the immense hype surrounding The Hunger Games, the film based on the novel by Suzanne Collins.

The story  is set in a post-apocalyptic North America, called Panem.  The Capitol randomly  selects one male and one female tribute between the ages of twelve and eighteen from each of the twelve districts to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a televised event where the tributes must fight to death. The main character, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), volunteers herself after her younger sister was picked to compete.

It’s safe to say I have not been this excited for a film since Harry Potter back in July. After reading Collins’ trilogy in January, I  immediately became obsessed.  I successfully managed to get most of my friends to read the book before the film’s release on Mar. 23.   We could hardly contain ourselves and even bought our midnight showing tickets a month in advance.

Amidst all the excitement, I found myself extremely worried that it was not going to capture the true horror and graphic subject matter. This fear stemmed from the movie being rated PG-13, when I personally felt like it could be R-rated. I was afraid they were going to water down the violence just to make it financially successful to the targeted teen audience.
Within the first ten min

utes of the film, however, my worries disappeared and I was already feeling the anxiety and terror I felt when reading the book. The director, Gary Ross, did a superb job of engaging the audience to feel like they were right there alongside Katniss. When the 30-second countdown of the games began, my friends and I clutched onto one another frightfully, despite the fact that we already knew the outcome of the games.

'The Hunger Games' book cover art.

As far as the book-to-film adaptation goes, it made cuts and changes in necessary areas to meet the two and half hour length and even made some additions that enhanced the experience. The film, unlike the book, breaks away from the action inside the arena to show what is happening with the viewers and controllers of the games. This was a successful addition to the film that helps set up the sequel, Catching Fire.

What I was most impressed with was the casting. Jennifer Lawrence plays the perfect Katniss.  She completely encapsulates her and carries the film. We are able to know what she is thinking through her excellent ability to communicate non-verbally, something that many fans were worried about since the book is all of Katniss’ inner dialogue.

Other standout performances include Elizabeth Banks as the eccentric Effie Trinket, Stanley Tucci as the charismatic Caesar Flickerman, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, and breakout star Josh Hutcherson as Katniss’ fellow tribute and adorable love interest Peeta Mellark. Even the actors who played the minor characters, such Alexander Ludwig who plays the ruthless Cato from District 2, brought dimension to their characters that was not described in the book.

If you haven’t had the chance to see this film, I highly recommend that you see it on the big screen before it goes out of theaters. It’s a faithful adaptation for fans of the books that leaves you wanting more.



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