The Hunger Games Catching Fire: The Movie vs. Book


As the excitement over Catching Fire builds, fans everywhere are wondering: Will the movie be true to the book? As reported in Entertainment Weekly, director Frances Lawrence assures us that it will: “The movie is very, very true to the book,” he says. However, it’s practically impossible for a movie to turn out exactly like the book. So, perhaps in an effort to give diehard fans a heads-up, Lawrence reveals a few things that have changed.

Peeta can swim.

As the Quarter Quell opens, the tributes emerge into a water-filled arena with the cornucopia in the center. In the book, Peeta can’t swim and would probably have been killed off instantly if Finnick hadn’t carried him to the cornucopia on his back. Lawrence says they “manned him up” a little, and being able to swim is apparently part of that.

Missing characters: Bonnie, Twill, and Darius the Avox

Bonnie and Twill, the refugees from District 8, play a small but vital role in the book: they’re the ones who tell Katniss about the simmering insurrection and the existence of District 13. That may explain why the movie Katniss doesn’t seem to be aware of the uprisings, but somebody has to fill her in at some point. Lawrence says that part was “fun” to come up with.

Darius, the District 12 peacekeeper who intervened in Gale’s whipping and paid by later serving Katniss as an Avox, is missing from the movie. So is his fellow Avox, Lavinia.

President Snow has a granddaughter.

The book doesn’t say much about President Snow’s family, but a granddaughter is introduced in the movie. And, to his great consternation, she’s a big Katniss fan. Watching the interplay between her admiration and his hatred should be an entertaining theme.

Clueless Effie grows up.

In the book, Effie is a constant nuisance. In the movie, she grows up and develops a conscience, turning the snobby airhead into an object of pity. She gets to say goodbye to Katniss and Peeta, telling them, “You both deserve so much better.”

Plutarch’s watch is a no-show.

In the book, Plutarch flashes his mockingjay watch at Katniss while they dance. He’s trying to let her know that he’s an ally while giving her a clue about the arena, but she doesn’t pick up on the hint. While they still dance in the movie, the watch doesn’t make an appearance.

Signs of insurrection

As the hype and excitement build, fans everywhere have been holding watch parties for The Hunger Games (perhaps some of them later Music Magpie their DVDs). The wait is over in London, where Catching Fire premiered November 11 to rave reviews. Time Out writes, “In hand-to-hand combat, it would have the first film on the floor, trapped in a headlock, whimpering for mercy.”

Perhaps to fill the void left by the absence of Bonnie and Twill, Katniss and Peeta catch a hint of the brewing revolution on their victory tour. There’s a mockingjay symbol painted in one of the train tunnels. And Rue’s sign – initially used as a gesture of rebellion by an elderly man in District 8 – shows up in district after district as the unrest spreads.

U.S. fans will have to wait until November 22, and a review like that should have them chomping at the bit. Until then, they’ll have to make do with rereading the book and watching The Hunger Games.


Mason Williamson studies pop culture. He especially enjoys blogging about books and movies and comparing the two media.

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