The Hunger Games Page-to-Screen Companion Guide essay

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The Hunger Games is a novel by Suzanne Collins that was released in 2008. It was later adapted into a film, which was released in 2011 with sequels scheduled for 2012 and 2013. While the two works of art have been released in different types of media, they yet retain certain elements, which are aimed at retaining the essence of the story as the author portrayed it. Several similar aspects, such as plot, themes and characterization, have been to a great extent aligned with the original text in the film adaptation. The plot of the film and the characterization is essentially the same as the main characters in both genres are two young people, whose lives are entwined by fate (Collins, 2008). The setting of both the novel and the film has also been retained as the capitol, as the main arena and the twelve poorer districts. The theme of brutality and violence of Panem, as brought out in the novel, is also retained in the film adaptation.

The film and novel both cover three fundamental themes that are central in moving the story forward. An important theme on which the story is titled is the theme of starvation. Other important themes are government control and self-sacrifice. The theme of hunger and starvation is prevalent in that it leads to the development in the story by offering insights for the actions of characters (Jacobson & Ross, 2012). A good example is the helplessness, by which the main characters are engaged in a struggle to overcome the hunger leading to a desperate crave for survival. Another theme is governmental control, which is portrayed through the use of propaganda and torture so as to subdue the population. The theme of self-sacrifice is evident in the actions of the characters such as Katniss taking the place of her younger sister.

While the movie has retained most of the aspects that are in the novel, there are some aspects that are missing in the film adaptation. In the scene prior to Katniss entering the arena, she is advised by Haymitch to look for water as the most important thing. Katniss goes ahead to have trouble with thirst, which almost destroys her. In the film, this is not so, as she immediately proceeds to find the water, and thus the tension and drama of the book in this scene is somewhat diluted (Jacobson & Ross, 2012). Another thing that was left out of the film is the development of the character of Haymitch. In the book, Haymitch, who is Katniss’s mentor, is a hopeless alcoholic. In the film, however, we only see glimpses of this fact and only at the beginning of the film. In the book, Haymitch was an unpredictable character, yet, in the film, he seems to be perfectly capable in offering mentorship thus diluting the character (Collins, 2008).

The film adaptation has also embellished some aspects of the novel and made the work more interesting. The setting of the film is superb in that it makes explanation through text of the setting by explaining and narrating it. The cast has also been well-chosen with superb combination of characters, which, though missing some characters is hardly noticeable. The film has also brought to life the setting of the story through its use of the World Building, which has created a very realistic feel to the film (Jacobson & Ross, 2012). The theme also brings out the social commentary aspect quite well as it aptly portrays the brutality and violence of the government of the day. The use of the third person in the film is also effective in offering a wider perspective as opposed to the novel, which is in the first person narration.

One of the most significant themes of the story is the theme of love, which has been highlighted both in the film and in the novel. While the story has high concept, in which children battle to the death, the love story may be too advanced and complex for children. The theme of love has not been portrayed particularly well in both the film and the novel since the theme is complicated for the cast. The book is, however, better in this regard since it portrays them better. A good example is the intense feelings of love that Katniss has for Peeta, which is portrayed clearly in the book (Collins, 2008). In the film, however, this is not so evident as the characters lack the fire and passion. The feeling is that the cast is only doing it for show, and the feelings never come alive. It is particularly hard to visualize the love of Katniss for Peeta from the film, which so expertly is portrayed in the novel.

All in all, the film lacks a certain depth that is contained in the novel particularly with regard to the portrayal of the theme of love and its antecedent effect. However, the makers of the film have tried their best to adhere to the original text and maintain the essence of the original material. The makers obviously had limitations in terms of time, simplification and rating (Jacobson & Ross, 2012). The book comes out better than the film in many aspects, though this may be attributed to its low budget. The setting of the film is also of exceptional quality with the World Building standing out as a good point for the makers. The film should, however, have greater depth in future adaptations since the characters in the film lacked passion and fire that was so clearly evident in the novel. The setting of Panem could also do with a little spicing up in order to fully portray the extremes of violence, brutality and decadence that is so realistic in the text.

While the book clearly has an edge over the film, it is also quite evident that both genres have different aspects at which they are better than the other. The movie offers better insights into the setting by offering real lifelike settings, which are impossible to portray in the book. The film is also better in certain literary aspects, such as narration from the third person perspective, which makes it offer wider perspectives. The book, on the other hand, is more eloquent in such aspects as the portrayal of themes since it enables reflection and consideration as opposed to the film, which does not allow for such mental activity (Collins, 2008). All in all, I believe, the movie could hold its own as a work of art, although the book is ultimately superior. I also do believe that a person would better enjoy and understand the film more, if they had read the book first.

I personally enjoyed reading the book more than watching the film. I believe this is because of the qualities of the movie, which enabled me to connect more with the novel as opposed to the film. I also found the film to be a little washed down in some parts. I also believe that I enjoyed reading the novel more since I am more of a reflective and analytical person, as opposed to just taking in things, and as such the novel adhered more to my personality. I also liked the film less, since I had already read the novel, and hence I had more expectations.

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