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As with most film adaptations of books there are quite a bit of differences between the movie and the book of The Hunger Games. Obviously there will be a lack of depth and detail in a movie versus a book, but beyond that several differences do exist.
To me the biggest difference is in the idea of rebellion. While the later books in the trilogy address the topic of rebellion in the districts, it really isn't addressed in the first book. In the movie; however, outright rebellion is shown in the districts. The movie shows District 11 destroying the town square with Peacekeepers in riot gear coming in after Rue is killed in the arena. No such action took place in the original book. Suzanne Collins oversaw the screenplay for the movie, so she must be trying to set the stage for the future movies by departing from the book.
Another example of differences between the book and the movie is the Mockingjay pin that is the symbol of the series. In the book Katniss's friend Madge, the mayor's daughter, gives Kat the pin to wear as a tribute to her aunt who died in the 50th games. In the movie Kat picks it up from Greasy Sae in The Hob on the morning of the reaping.
A final example (but certainly not the last or only) of the movie straying from the book is in the end when three tributes remained. In the book Cato fights defiantly until the end, ultimately losing his life due to the teamwork of Peeta and Katniss. In the movie he delivers a pitiful speech about "already being dead" and seems to welcome death, whereas the character in the book is portrayed as a fighter to the end.
While most people will agree that the theme and story of the movie held true to the book, there were definitely some instances where the two paths diverged.
Apart from the differences mentioned above, there are at least two other differences that should be mentioned. First, the book is written entirely in the first person, much of it as an interior monologue. Katniss herself comments upon absolutely everything. In fact, that is the only way the readers find out what is going on. This gets really interesting when Katniss is affected severely by the tracker jacker stings.
The world begins to bend in alarming ways. A butterfly balloons to the size of a house then shatters into a million stars. Trees transform to blood and splash down over my boots. Ants begin to crawl out of the blisters on my hands and I can't shake them free. ... I wait for death.
Specifically, the reader has to ask himself/herself what is real and what is imagined here. Katniss doesn't even know. How can we? Further, how much is lost when this interior monologue is taken away! Suddenly Katniss looks like a silent heroine! Anyone who has read the book would NOT think of her that way!
In regards to the end of the movie vs. the end of the book, there is another big difference, this time in the amount of horror involved. The horror factor is much higher in the book. This is because the wolves that attack the group aren't just large wolves, they're mutations cloned from the murdered tributes! Actually, this particular difference was the biggest disappointment apart from the loss of Katniss' interior monologue. Katniss is a pretty tough cookie, but this disturbs her greatly:
The green eyes glowering at me are unlike any dog or wolf, any canine I've ever seen. They are unmistakably human. And that revelation has barely registered when I notice the collar with the number 1 inlaid with jewels and the whole horrible thing hits me. The blonde hair, the green eyes, the number, ... it's Glimmer. ... A shriek escapes my lips and I'm having trouble holding the arrow in place.
Worst of all, the smallest mutt, with dark glossy fur, huge brown eyes and a collar that reads 11 in woven straw. Teeth bared in hatred. Rue.
The potential for horror at the end of this movie was very high. Oh, I was SO disappointed. As usual, the book beats the heck out of the movie.
Also the tribute wolves at the end of the movie did not have the eyes of the tributes whereas in the book they did.
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