The Hunger Games: Dear Filmmakers, This is How Book-to-Film Adaptations are Done.

Rashmi Daryanani , 25 Mar 2012
The Hunger Games

Being bed-ridden with the flu meant that I could only pick one film to watch this weekend, and thankfully I picked The Hunger Games over Agent Vinod. The Hunger Games has really been the only book series that managed to grab my attention after Harry Potter, so I was very psyched for the movie – and it definitely lived up to the hype. This is what a book-to-film adaptation should look like! Want to know what I liked best about the film? (Don’t worry, I’m keeping it spoiler free!)

The Hunger Games

1. The characterization remains.

With a book, you really have the opportunity to build a character: you’ve got many words, point-of-views and narrations to play around with. In a film with a time limit (and without first-person point-of-view narration), it gets slightly trickier. It gets even trickier when characterization is central to a story like The Hunger Games – but, thankfully, the movie pulls it off very well. Everything from Katniss’ aggressive yet vulnerable nature, to Effie’s frivolity, to Cinna’s reassuring demeanor, comes across nicely in the film. I think the characterization I especially liked was that of Haymitch; impressed that they managed to pull off almost every facet of his personality. Only Gale’s character took a bit of a hit due to lack of screen time.

The Hunger Games

2. The performances are outstanding.

The great characterization was due in a large part to the actors’ amazing performances. Jennifer Lawrence is a perfect Katniss Everdeen – I don’t know if anyone could pull it off the way she did. She emotes with her every movement, and you don’t need her first-person point-of-view narration to know what she’s feeling. Everyone else did a fantastic job as well – Josh Hutcherson plays a great awkward-yet-charming Peeta Mellark, and again, Woody Harrelson is a fabulous Haymitch.

The Hunger Games

3. All changes are good changes.

A good book-to-film adaptation does not mean that books should be transformed into movies as they are. The film has quite a few changes from the books, but I can’t think of anything I had a gripe with. In fact, some of the changes were actually better – like the origination of the Mockingjay pin, commentary by the game “hosts” and a glimpse into the lives of other characters (since the story is not being narrated by Katniss, we’re free to flit in and out of sequences with other characters).

The Hunger Games

4. It’s not an easy film.

And the book wasn’t an easy book, either. Thank God the film wasn’t watered down to make it more ‘accessible’ to the movie-going audience. It’s still gritty, it’s still disturbing at parts, and you may come out feeling a little emotionally drained. But the fact that it can elicit such a response from someone while still being enjoyable is quite remarkable.

Honestly, since I’ve read the books, I can’t judge the film on its own merit – but as an adaptation, it is really, really good. And I do think that those who haven’t read the books will find it enjoyable as well. Hope you guys go out to see it – like they say, let the games begin! :D

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