Dear Wife and I recently went out to see “The Hunger Games” movie, and since then I’ve been thinking a lot about my reaction to the movie, and about how it compares to my reaction to the book. And this got me thinking about the movie adaptations of books more generally.
One word of warning: as I discuss my thoughts on this subject, I’m bound to offer some spoilers from the movies and books I touch on.
With respect to “The Hunger Games”, there were things I enjoyed about the movie. It was certainly, in my opinion, a good movie worth seeing and I’m actually eager to see it again when it’s available to watch at home. There were elements of the movie that made it superior to reading the book. But there were elements that definitely made it inferior to the book as well.
For example: the additional scenes focusing on Seneca and President Snow and Haymitch add a lot to the story – a depth that you don’t get from the book alone. The scene that shows the reaction of Rue’s father after her death in the Games, and the resulting riot in District 11, was much more powerful on an emotional level than the abstraction of Katniss receiving a baked loaf and realizing it came from District 11. On the other hand, the use of “Shaky Cam” was so disruptive in the early scenes that viewers never really felt settled in this world. Even more problematic, the movie treated the relationship between Katniss and Rue in such a cursory fashion that the viewer doesn’t have time to be impressed by that relationship before Rue’s death. I imagine that the viewer that hasn’t read the books might be a tad perplexed as to why Katniss reacts so strongly: poor Rue only had maybe five or ten minutes of screen time, tops (and that’s being generous by counting scenes in which she appears in the background), before her tragic death. You really only understand how important this relationship was by reading the book.
As I contemplated this, I realized something. Continue reading