The Hunger Games: a Commentary on Book to Film Adaptations

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Yes, I read the books. Yes, I enjoyed them. Yes, for those two weeks of my life I wanted Gale to be a real person and sweep me off my feet… Just kidding. Or so you hope, right?

I really did read the books. So I think this is a good opportunity to talk generally about adaptations from books to screen. A lot of people would be surprised about how many movies actually started out as novels. When a movie is originally a book, the movie always has to walk a fine line between the pressures of quality and faithfulness to the original book. But I believe faithfulness does not mean a movie will be good necessarily. If you use a book as a script and film every single thing in it, the movie would suck. Movies and books are completely different mediums. Both need different elements, different tactics. Thus, when a book goes on the big screen, changes have to be made out of necessity.

Once you accept the idea that changes have to be made, you have to ask, what changes are okay? I think the best guide is the main central plot, and most importantly, the important themes. If the director and screen writer change the theme, they have completely deviated from the original author’s intent. And that is in my opinion not okay. Small details that have no influence on the actual story can be changed. That shouldn’t be cried over. I know a lot of people shed tears over the disappearance of Tom Bombadil from the Fellowship of the Ring, but that needed to happen to make the movie better because all Tom does is talk. No really significant piece of action happens in that scene. However, I’m sure director Gary Ross would have been stoned if he changed Katniss into a dependent floozy who always needs a man in her life—Wait a second…

Keeping those parameters in mind, The Hunger Games actually is a pretty good adaptation. The only things that are changed are not essential to the story. The central plot and the important themes remained intact. That is what a fan should look for. Not that everything is the same, only the important things.

Now, did I think it was a quality movie? It was much better than I expected. I was kind of prepared for something close to Twilight. (And actually I saw the Breaking Dawn Part 2 trailer, and sadly I was the only person in the theater who laughed at it. Maybe I offended some very angsty preteens, but anyway…). To my delight, the movie rose above my expectations. It wasn’t the best movie ever made, but it wasn’t the worst either. And it was definitely entertaining. My one complaint (I’m sure you Squids all know by now that I always have one) is about the action. Actors moved so fast that they would become blurry and I couldn’t follow what was going on. Maybe the director did this on purpose to create the feelings of confusion and uncertainty the characters would be feeling, but he could have toned it down a little bit and it still would have come across without making me want to barf.

For a solid adaptation and an entertaining ride, I give The Hunger Games a 6 out of 10.

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