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, readers of Suzanne Collins’ novels know to expect the darkest film to date, filled with gruesome deaths, emotional breakdowns, and of course, the end of the revolution. And for the most part, the film follows the book nearly word for word.
Aside from the fact that some of the violence is dialed back — keep in mind the film is rated PG-13 — the final
film probably hewed closest to its original text, even borrowing exact dialogue for some of the biggest scenes.
And yet, as there always are with adaptations, there were some changes made. Let’s break down the most striking changes between the book and the film. Spoilers ahead!
In the book, to help Peeta recover from the Capitol’s brainwashing, Plutarch suggests he talk to a familiar face, someone he knew from District 12, to ease his transition back to normalcy. That person was a girl named Delly Cartwright, who had known both Peeta and Katniss before the Games. However, the movie chose to bypass introducing a new character and used Prim to talk to Peeta instead.
Okay, so maybe this is a minor change, but I was a little bummed not to see the wedding cake that Peeta had decorated for Finnick and Annie’s wedding. In the book, it was a significant moment when Katniss realized that in order to be decorating a cake, he had to have been getting better. Also, I just love a good cake.
This carries over from the first film, and is honestly just something you can expect when you adapt a book that’s in first-person: You’re going to get more of the other characters’ perspectives. For this film, we see a little more of Snow’s behind-the-scenes activities, which in the book, Katniss obviously didn’t know about.
In the book, Katniss and Johanna team up and train as hard as they can in the hopes that they’ll be cleared for battle. In the end, Johanna doesn’t make the cut, but Katniss did. The film chooses to skip over the entire battle preparation and have Katniss sneak her way onto the front lines after she’s shot in District 2.
The second half of the book, on which this movie is based, does not feature Caesar Flickerman at all. Instead, when the Capitol believes that Katniss is dead, they just have a “reporter” inform the world. But because Flickerman is played by the magical Stanley Tucci, it’s no surprise that the movie worked him in.
Remember when I mentioned how the movie was less gruesome? Well, the biggest change came for Messalla. In the book, he is trapped in some sort of light beam and Katniss watches as his skin melts off his body. In the movie, he simply steps into a beam and shatters into a million pieces. Still disturbing, but less scarring. (Also less gruesome is the treatment of Katniss’ burns, which in the film, are treated once and somewhat put to rest; as opposed to the book, where there’s a lot of mention of her sensitive, often-bleeding flesh.)
After Katniss assassinates Coin in the film, it isn’t Plutarch who informs her about her trial. Instead, it’s Haymitch, who reads a letter
. This was the film’s way of handling the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, and it works well enough. Plutarch informs Katniss that Paylor will pardon her of her crimes and that she can return home to District 12. The film doesn’t directly mention Plutarch’s new title as Secretary of Communications, but it does show him at Paylor’s side when she’s sworn in.
decided that Effie wouldn’t be taken captive by the Capitol, so returns to attend Finnick’s wedding, and then helps get Katniss ready for what should’ve been Snow’s assassination. (Sadly, Octavia and Flavius weren’t there to help her like they were in the books.) And yet, because you can’t leave Elizabeth Banks without an official goodbye, the film added in a final scene for Effie as she saw Katniss and Haymitch off to District 12, complete with a kiss on the lips from Haymitch.
In the book, when Katniss returns home, Greasy Sae came by and cared for her — cooking, cleaning, etc. The film once again decided not to introduce a new character and instead leaves Katniss to mourn her sister with only Buttercup.
The book’s epilogue describes Katniss and Peeta’s kids as “the dancing girl with the dark hair and blue eyes” and “the boy with blond curls and gray eyes.” In the film, the dancing girl is more of a small infant in its mother’s arms, but the effect is still the same.
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