Word on the street today is that Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence needed to cut scenes and characters from The Hunger Games sequel. As a big Hunger Games fan, that’s cool with. But I have a funny feeling that it might not be so cool with all the fans, especially those fans that remember the book a lot better than I do. I read them all so quickly way back in 2011 that I honestly cannot recall every single moment. In fact when I saw Hunger Games last March, I didn’t even notice half of the scenes missing until someone else (and by someone else, I mean 40,000 people in the Internet) pointed everything out to me. And tell you what, it’s a much better movie experience when you’re not stressing out about how it compares to the book.
That’s how I spent my halcyon Harry Potter years, mistakenly viewing each movie as some kind of weird test to see what they would leave out, mess up and/or forget about. In fact, before each movie I’d reread all the books up until that point just so I could accurately compare them. It wasn’t fun and it probably wasn’t healthy. Between that and my SIMS addiction, I’m not exactly sure why my parents didn’t intervene. (Probably because I learned to be extra charismatic from playing so many games of SIMS)
Not only did my movie viewing experience involve my “let’s see how much they mess up the book” test, but my post-movie conversation was never about the actual movie. Rather I spent ample time comparing it to the book and how it ruined x,y and z for me. A lot of “they never mentioned that moving staircase being there in the book!” and whatnot. I looked forward to each movie, but I definitely didn’t enjoy them as much as I should have at the time. It’s sad, because it’s a series about wizards that I took a little too seriously.
And that’s why my Hunger Games movie experience ended up being so much better. Not remembering every moment in the book and not worrying about what matched up from the book plot to the movie plot helped me to actually enjoy the movie. It followed the general plot, captured the essence of Katniss Everdeen and brought the magical murderous world of Panem to life. Sure things were left out, but that’s okay. It didn’t take away from the movie. In fact, it probably made it a stronger movie for people who didn’t read the book and didn’t need to be bogged down with only slightly relevant details. Unlike books, movies only have a certain amount of space and time to be told.
I guess that experience made me realize that maybe it’s okay if the book and the movie don’t match up perfectly. Maybe it’s okay to accept that they’ll simply share the same plot — and rest is up to the director and what he/she thinks will work best on the big screen. As long as Katniss and Peeta and Gale and Finnick show up at some point, I think it will end up being a pretty good movie.