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The Top 5 Things Missing from the Hunger Games Movie that were in the Book

Updated on November 29, 2013

The Hunger Games movie has been a huge success worldwide: In its opening weekend it made over $155 million and it continues to make money. Like all books that get converted into movies, a lot of people who read the book and saw the movie felt that the Hunger Games movie left certain important elements out. Furthermore some people who saw the movie without reading the book were confused about certain points in the movie, or may not have realized the significance of other scenes because some plot points were glossed over in the movie. In order to clear up some of the confusion, this list contains the top 5 Things that the Hunger Games movie left out from the book.

Warning of possible spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen the movie.

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A Map of Panem, the world from the Hunger Games
A Map of Panem, the world from the Hunger Games | Source

Number 1: The Importance of Food

In the books food is a huge focal point. Obviously food is really important since the characters from poorer districts are starving, but the focus on food in the books is definitely bigger than in the movie. In the books huge passages are devoted to describing food, so much in fact that in real life, recipes and entire cookbooks are based on the Hunger Games novels. In the Hunger Games book when the tributes from District 12 are brought into the Capitol and have expensive types of foods in their midst, you can imagine it’s a big deal. Even if you haven’t read the books, you would expect kids that are starving to go crazy and stuff themselves with food every chance they get. However in most scenes in the movie where a bountiful selection of food is presented, both Katniss and Peeta barely touch their food because they are upset about their fate.

It would have been nice to focus more on how hungry the people in District 12 really were. In one of the first scenes of the movie, Katniss and Gale share a loaf of bread and Katniss asks “is this real?!” It sounds like she has never even seen a loaf of bread before in her District. Of course in flashback scenes we see that Peeta works at a bakery and that bread appears to be more abundant than originally thought. If the people in District 12 are so poor that they can’t afford bread, how does Peeta’s family bakery make any money? In that same flashback scene when Katniss was sitting under a tree, it wasn’t clear that she was starving to death, it just seemed like she was hanging out thinking about something sad and it really would have been nice to illustrate just how hungry these people were.

Number 2: The Capitol is Evil

In the Hunger Games novel it is clear that people truly fear the Capitol and with good reason: if you rebel you are severely punished. That’s why people allow the Capitol to rule over them so brutally.. In the movie, it seems like you can simply hop over a fence and spend a pleasant day in the woods without much consequence. The games are a manipulative way for the Capitol to dominate over the population, but the movie didn't have enough threat from the Capitol to make the games seem realistic. It would have been useful to see more of the evil Capitol outside of the games, in order to make it clear that any attempts at rebellion might seem futile. I heard someone in the theater ask “why don’t the tributes just not participate?” If you have to wonder why the games take place, then the point of the story has been lost on the viewer.

Number 3: More details into how the Hunger Games work

The movie would have benefitted from explaining how the games work in greater detail. For example: Gale mentions that his name is in the ballot box 42 times, and while they briefly touched on it being because of extra food rations, it would have made it more significant if they had explained exactly how the system worked. Also there is no mention that the winning district gets extra food rations for a year and it isn’t clear why the subjected districts would be interested in their district winning, except if they care for the individual players.

In the book it’s mentioned many times that during the games most people die from thirst, starvation or they freeze to death, but we didn’t get to see this in the movie. Since we didn’t see anyone fighting the elements we don’t get the sense that they are in extreme peril (except when they are facing other players). Furthermore it didn’t seem too difficult to obtain water, there were streams close by that tributes could access with little danger. A few extra details would have made the important points of the games more concrete and helped those that were unfamiliar understand it a little bit better.

Number 4: The dogs were former tributes.

In the book, the dog-creatures at the end of the games were said to look like fallen tributes, having the same colored eyes and hair as the dead, as well as numbered collars that corresponded to the Districts they came from. These dogs were important because it’s implied that the Capitol took the DNA from fallen tributes and manipulated it into creatures that can further harm the players. These creatures are supposed to not only terrorize the players physically, but emotionally as well. Of course I can understand why they might have left something like that out, it would have been confusing and hard to recreate on film. That being said: being attacked by creatures with the physical features of fallen tributes is extremely disturbing to Katniss in the book. In the movie the psychological hardships that these players experienced was almost absent, which is equally important to the physical torment that the games inflict on the players.

Number 5: Violence and Consequences

It’s understandable that they had to tone down the violence for the movie, but it would have been nice if there were more consequences in the Hunger Games film. In the movie, a severe leg wound and a severe burn are both treated with cure-all ointment that healed the victims in less than 24 hours. In the books, it’s a different story: Peeta’s leg injury was much more severe and he loses his leg. Katniss didn’t fare so well either, after the pile of food and supplies is blown up the noise from the explosion causes blood to trickle down her ear and she becomes partially deaf. The books also give the impression that the victors of the games are more physically and psychologically scarred than they are in the movie. Once again, although danger is apparent in the movie, it isn’t as violent as it is in the book. In the book you really get the sense that their lives are constantly on the line, and that even if they survive, the long term consequences will be devastating. In the movie the wounds that the main characters received are not serious, and this makes the violence that they’ve experienced become less consequential.

Conclusion

The problem with glossing over these points is that it takes away the feeling of how dangerous the battlefield was for the players. The movie shouldn’t leave viewers with questions that can only be answered by reading the book. While I do agree that it is enjoyable to read a book that has been turned into a movie to find a deeper and more detailed world, you shouldn’t be forced to read a book because you had unresolved questions from the movie. A movie should be able to stand on it’s own and not rely on the book it is based on for the answers. Don’t misunderstand me: I enjoyed the movie, but I really wish they had gone into more detail when it came to certain plot points.

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    • profile image

      Guest 3 years ago

      I'm with u guest. I kept on waiting for that to happen in the movie, and it never did! I had to explain to my friend who the servant was. The would have really helped a lot of people

    • profile image

      guest 4 years ago

      The big one they missed to me was when katniss realizes and feels guilty bc her servant who had her tongue removed, is the girl that gale and she had seen in the woods with her little brother, I feel that was a HUGE piece they missed, and would have shown how brutal and evil the capital is when the little boy is killed, and what they did with his sister. It would have shown the capital gives harsh punishments with no remourse, and I feel it would have shown just how desperate the people are. How they left the entire sequence out I have no idea!!!

    • profile image

      liidy 4 years ago

      I with ya on the dogs. They don't really emotionally get to katniss & peeta

    • Arren123 profile image

      Arren123 5 years ago from UK

      Thank you, it's a shame that they miss out so much of what's in the book. I went to see the film and really enjoyed the film and now reading the book because I felt in the film the ending seemed wrong and I needed to read the book instead :)

    • Greg Horlacher profile image

      Greg Horlacher 5 years ago from Grand Prairie, TX

      My first thought about the cast was that Katniss and Gale looked remarkably hale and hearty for people unused to consistent food.