The Hunger Games Movie vs. Book

Warning: The following article contains detailed spoilers for The Hunger Games book and its movie adaptation.


Have you ever watched a movie based on a book you’ve never read and wondered what was different? What they left out, or added in, or changed so the film fit within its time constraints, or perhaps how a scene was worded? I tend to find myself wondering about this a lot, so I decided to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and compare it to its movie adaptation. The following are a few major differences I found between the two. Before I begin, I will note that the rest of this article contains huge spoilers for both The Hunger Games movies and books, so proceed with caution. 

If you don’t care about spoilers and would like to read this article, here’s the Goodreads summary of the book: “In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.” 


“The Girl On Fire” vs “The Girl Who Was On Fire”

If you’ve ever watched The Hunger Games movie, you know Katniss Everdeen is known as “the girl on fire.” However, in the book, this is not the case; she’s the girl who was on fire. This may seem like a very small difference, after all it’s just two words and a tense, but it affects the audience’s interpretation of Katniss. In the movie, her moniker seems to imply that Katniss is still on fire, which most likely is to help the viewer understand why the rest of Panem views her as a revolutionary. However, in the books, the original “girl who was on fire” implies that she was a spark that didn’t mean to set anything ablaze, stomped out quickly, which makes her later actions in Catching Fire and Mockingjay more dramatic to a reader: Katniss in the books never wanted to be a revolutionary, but was made one, whereas Katniss in the movies was more intentional about her accidental revolution-starting. 


The Point of View

The Hunger Games books are told from the point of view of Katniss, while the movie adaptation, like most movies, is third person omniscient. Due to this shift in point of view between the two versions, the movie includes a lot of things the book mentions in passing, but the reader does not get to see. Mainly, this is any and everything involving Caesar Flickerman, both during and before the games in his newscasts that are broadcasted around Panem. However, this also allows the audience to see the actions of other characters, such as Rue, Cato, and the girl from District 2, as well as the work Haymidge does to get Katniss help and sponsors during the games. 


Other Interesting Things

The Bread from District 11

After Rue dies in the book, Katniss receives a gift from District 11: bread. However, they leave this out of the movie, making the moment after Rue’s death just a little less powerful. 


The Dress

In the movie, Katniss’s dress for the interview is actually on fire when she twirls, but in the book, her dress is made of hundreds of red, orange, yellow, and blue jewels attached to a dress so that when she spins it looks like she’s on fire. While this isn’t a particularly significant detail, it’s just both an interesting choice for omission and another example of “the girl on fire” and “the girl who was on fire” portrayals in the two versions.