The Book Was Better?: Mockingjay Part 1

So, due to the whole babysitting situation, we took longer than is acceptable for people like us to see Mockingjay: Part 1. This is not a movie review- check in with your favorite critic for a full rundown on the film- I’m just here to ponder the eternal question:

How did it hold up to the book?

Honestly, it’s been awhile since I finished the trilogy, but I’m guessing: pretty well.

I’m guessing this because during our usual post-movie-rundown, my wife and I spent about 5 minutes nitpicking some minor details and then mainly debated movie-specific issues- like how they were going to deal with the loss of Phillip Seymour Hoffman (our theory: that they’ve pumped up Effie’s role in this one so that she can take on some of Plutarch’s function in the next movie) or if they photo-shopped Josh Hutchinson’s head on to a thinner body to capture the emaciated look required for a prisoner of war…

I think I appreciated the drabness of this movie- I found a lot of the special effects in the last few cloying and fake. (That fire? Come on? All that money, and that’s the best CGI you could manage?) The less fantastical setting made for more realistic viewing.

Someone also managed to turn one of my least favorite scenes in the books into an affecting sequence, beginning with Katniss singing her father’s song and carrying it over to show how the rebels in the Districts made it their own. That was probably my favorite moment in the film, and it does highlight the tremendous difference between the book versus the film’s focus. Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games in the first person, so readers can’t get their revelations until Katniss does, and Katniss can’t attend every uprising in every District for obvious reasons.

I still have my usual gripe: Print-Katniss was stoic and extremely difficult to read. Screen-Katniss, if you ask me, bleeds her inner-softie out in a way that I think would embarrass print-Katniss to no end. I know it’s hard to generate much empathy with an external shot of someone who doesn’t give out much of their inner workings, but the odd thing is that Jennifer Lawrence has managed better, I think, in Winter’s Bone and even in Silver Linings Playbook, so I’m guessing my quibble is with the director. I’m just inured to this version of Katniss, even if she feels watered down and “safe” to me.

Oh yeah, and one more minor grievance to sneak in: Finnick is supposed to be hotter than Gayle, Katniss, Peeta, and all of Effie’s wigs rolled up in one. Why does Hollywood have such a problem with side characters that are actually supposed to be more attractive than the leads? (Here, I point the finger at whoever cast Loras in Game of Thrones.)

This is not very much complaining for me, though, so I’d say the filmmakers should be proud. I’d love to hear your take as well!

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2 thoughts on “The Book Was Better?: Mockingjay Part 1

  1. I just saw this and I thought the film did it better actually (as I imagined it might). I wasn’t a huge fan of Mockingjay to begin with (there were a few things about Collins’ writing that bothered me). But I think Katniss’s PTSD better depicted in film. And I think Part 1 is setting up the ending of Mockingjay better than the book did.

    1. In the movies, I really enjoy seeing all of the political machinations that go on behind Katniss’ back and over her head, and there are a lot more of these as the stories go on…

      I still don’t like movie-Katniss, but the rest of it is enjoyable.

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