How are The Hunger Games movies different than the books? Several characters look different and a few story lines may have changed, but the film producers did the smart thing and allowed the books’ author, Suzanne Collins, to consult and collaborate on the adaptation. Still, it’s always difficult to pack all of the book’s material into a feature film (or four). There’s bound to be some obvious missteps.
When it comes to Hunger Games book vs. movie discussions, it’s easy to forget the challenges of casting. An actor may look exactly like a book character, but this series requires lots of action, emotional range, and the ability to convey Collins’s intent across three books – not an easy job when there are die hard fans waiting for you to trip up. Fortunately, Collins was part of the audition process, and the search was exhaustive and intense (except for the lazy casting of Buttercup in the first film).
In the books, we are experiencing Katniss’s story through her first person narration. In the screen versions, there is no narration. That gave the filmmakers the opportunity to feature other aspects of the story, and to take some license with the characters’ looks. This can be frustrating for book fans, while giving those new to the Hunger Games trilogy a more complete idea of the story.
While the filmmakers got a lot of the casting right (Gale, Prim, Cinna, Rue), they sometimes made some out-of-the box choices. What do you think? How were The Hunger Games books different than the movies? What did they get right? What is your biggest beef? Was Donald Sutherland’s President Snow up to snuff or just not snakey enough? What about the casting of Amanda Plummer and Jeffrey Wright as Wiress and Beetee.
Peeta Mellark in the Books: Minus One Leg
The book version of President Snow is strikingly different than the screen version. The literary character is described as “a small, thin man with paper-white hair,” with thick lips that are stretched across his face. His appearance is snake-like.
According to the books, as Snow poisoned his enemies, he had to drink some of the poison himself. He took an antidote, but he was not cured of the sores the poison left behind. He had surgery to fix his weird mouth, but it still looked weird. He wears genetically engineered roses to cover the smell of blood in his mouth. Creepy (and gross).
Caesar’s probably been injecting embalming fluid because he has changed little over the 40 years of his broadcast career. Katniss describes him this way: “Same face under a coating of pure white makeup. Same hairstyle that he dyes a different color for each Hunger Games. Same ceremonial suit, midnight blue dotted with a thousand tiny electric bulbs that twinkle like stars. They do surgery in the Capitol, to make people appear younger and thinner.”
For the 74th Hunger Games, Caesar went blue. “Caesar’s hair is powder blue and his eyelids and lips are coated in the same hue. He looks freakish but less frightening than he did last year when his color was crimson and he seemed to be bleeding.”
Haymitch in the Books: Your Paunchy, Curly-Haired Drunk Guy
Johanna Mason in the Books: Naked Punk Lumberjack
This deadly lumberjack from District 7 pretended to be weak until she revealed that she’s a stone-cold killer. She is described in the book as having spiky brown hair and wide-set brown eyes. She’s our punk rocker from the woods.
In both the book and the film, she’s prone to nakedness.
Enobaria in the Books: A Terrifying, Gangsta-Toothed Chick
Thresh in the Movies: Smaller and Shorter Than Expected
Thresh in the Books: Big as an Ox
Mutated Tributes in the Movies: Bland and Boring
Mutated Tributes in the Books: Spooky Ghost Beasts
Book fans were a bit irked when they saw a black and white cat playing Buttercup, since the first book describes the cat as a muddy yellow color. Suzanne Collins was also not amused and insisted that director Francis Lawrence cast a different cat for the other movies.
Lawrence was kind of surprised at the reaction about the original casting. “You know what that was actually, and I was happy to do it, that was a request from Nina the producer and Suzanne the author,” he said. “That they thought the cat from the first movie was not the way he was described in the book. And that had annoyed a bunch of fans, and things like that.”
Buttercup in the Books: Muddy Yellow with Rotten Squash Eyes
Book Katniss brokered a peace with her little sister’s cat, even though she describes him as the “world’s ugliest cat. Mashed-in nose, half of one ear missing, eyes the color of rotting squash. Prime named him Buttercup, insisting that his muddy yellow coat matched the bright flower.”
The movie got it right in Catching Fire and Mockingjay Pt. 1.
Clove in the Books: A Well-Fed Tribute
Hunger in the Books: The BIGGEST Deal