The odds may not be in Katniss’ favour, but they’re certainly in ours as The Hunger Games returns to cinemas once more with Catching Fire. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth brought Panem, the Capitol and their deadly tournament to life on our screens last year, and this second instalment is no disappointment with a barnstorming depiction of Katniss and Peeta’s dramatic return to the Arena.
But with every cinema adaptation comes a few tweaks and Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy is no different. We’ve rounded up five things Francis Lawrence and his star-studded cast have missed out and five neat additions they’ve made to the books. But before you read this, we must make one thing clear: SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS. There. We’ve said it. DO NOT read ahead if you don’t want to know what happens. We wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment of this film, now would we?
WHAT’S BEEN CUT FROM THE CATCHING FIRE BOOK?
1. Plutarch Heavensbee’s Mockingjay watch
It’s a crucial moment when Katniss takes to the dancefloor on the arm of Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) at President Snow’s palacial bash, largely because of the vital clue he gives her with the Mockingjay watch he wears on his wrist. But while the meeting still takes place in the film, the watch itself either doesn’t exist or is kept firmly tucked under the Head Gamesmaker’s sleeve. In the book, Katniss calls him “almost clandestine” but the Katniss of the film is far less suspicious of Plutarch’s shifted loyalties…
2. Bonnie and Twill
The story of the escaped workers from District 8 runs across whole chapters of Suzanne Collins’ book, but the pair are ousted from the big screen entirely. Former teacher and factory worker, Bonnie, and her young student, Twill, are vital in alerting Katniss to the uprisings taking place across other districts and, crucially, the possible existence of District 13. But while the refugees are often in Katniss’s thoughts on her return to the Capitol, and in the Arena, in the book, their absence is yet another reason why she’s not so curious about Panem’s unrest in the film.
3. Darius the Avox
Poor old Darius – the friendly peacekeeper who used to enjoy a bowl of soup and a spot of banter at Greasy Sae’s – ends up an Avox in the Capitol after stepping into defend Gale from new head peacekeeper Thread’s lashing. Except, in the film he doesn’t exist at all. Used in the book as a Capitol servant to Katniss – a deliberate ploy from Snow to unhinge her ahead of the Quarter Quell – Darius disappears altogether in the film adaptations, with no sign of him or his fellow Avox, Lavinia.
4. The bridal photoshoot
Katniss’s mooted wedding to Peeta Mellark is a cause for celebration throughout the Capitol, so when the pair return to their separate lives in District 12, their imminent ceremony is certainly not forgotten by the plumed and primped privileged few. Her bridal photoshoot serves as a stark reminder when she’s paid a visit back home by Effie, Cinna and her prep team to model the six dresses the Capitol have voted on. In the film, this adjunct disappears and the wedding gowns are removed altogether until President Snow plays his Quarter Quell trump card.
5. Katniss’ uprising
The Katniss we meet in the book is far more intent on fighting back against the Capitol, even telling Haymitch, “I want to start an uprising”. He shoots her down on the spot and before we know it she’s back in the hands of President Snow, but Bonnie, Twill and Gale’s fervour all convince her at one point to use her position of power. But although the Katniss of the film sees footage of rioting in other districts, she fails to cause “all kinds of trouble” in quite the same way. She’s curious and spurred on by the unrest in other districts, but never expresses a desire to lead a revolt of her own.
WHAT ADDITIONS HAVE BEEN MADE TO THE CATCHING FIRE FILM?
1. The Mockingjay sign in the tunnel
This fleeting sight is a familiar one – it’s done the rounds in every Catching Fire trailer. Absent from the novel, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of a Mockingjay comes as Katniss and Peeta embark on their victory tour across Panem on one of those futuristic bullet trains. As they speed through a tunnel, the red sign of the revolution gives the pair a vital clue to the districts’ unrest – a function served instead in the book by district 8 escapees Bonnie and Twill (see 2. above).
2. Rue’s sign is used throughout the districts
The tunnel motif wasn’t the only creative licence filmmakers took with the restless population of Panem… We still have the elderly fella in District 8 making his show against the capital, but Rue’s sign isn’t just confined to one district. As Katniss frantically attempts to quell the hope she’s given the masses in the film, another district copies Rue’s sign as she and Peeta stand helplessly on stage. And when the pair are reaped for the Quarter Quell, Prim, her mother, Gale and the rest of District 12 use the salute as an act of defiance against Snow and his regime (and, in a way, a goodbye to Katniss).
3. President Snow’s granddaughter
While there is plenty of descriptive detail of Snow in the books – his snakelike eyes and his rose-blood scent – there is little allusion to his family. That all changes in Catching Fire the movie with the introduction of his granddaughter who, to his annoyance and our amusement, is rather a fan of Katniss. Watching her and Peeta in the arena she tells her granddad, “Some day I want to love someone that much.” His face is a picture…
4. Effie gets to say goodbye
In the book, Effie Trinket is a near-constant irritant to the District 12 victors, but actress Elizabeth Banks transforms her into a character they (and we) have a great deal of pity for. The difference? In the film she gets to say goodbye to Katniss and Peeta. “You both deserve so much better,” she tells them with a tear in her eye. It’s almost as sad as Cinna’s farewell, but don’t get us started on that…
5. Plenty more snogging
While Peeta spends much of the novels one and two locking lips with Katniss, poor Gale doesn’t get much of a look-in. But this is Hollywood so it comes as no surprise that Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth snog on more than the two occasions recorded in the book. Although no amount of kissing her childhood friend could out-do the display Katniss and Peeta put on in the Arena. Twilight eat your heart out…
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is released in UK cinemas nationwide on 21 November 2013