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7 Major Ways Movie Katniss Was Watered Down, Part 1

Why the (slight) stupidity and helplessness of on-screen Katniss marred the movie for me.

If you’ve read The Hunger Games, you know how strong Katniss Everdeen is. In fact, strong just isn’t a strong enough word to use. She protects her family after her father dies, hunts in the woods (which is punishable by death, if caught) to feed her family and herself, cares for her twelve-year-old sister, and volunteers to die for her in the Hunger Games—something that never happens in her district, as you are almost sure to die. She is the ultimate strong female lead that girls need to see in film.

Too bad they didn’t get to see her in the movie.

Don’t get me wrong. Movie-Katniss was pretty brave and tough, and Jennifer Lawrence did a hell of a job portraying her. In fact, aside from her tallness, I would say she was perfect for the role. However, the writers and director of the film watered her strength down in the way they chose to present her, making her less smart and strong than we know her to be. Here are just a few instances.

Katniss hunting in the woods. I loved how they showed Katniss hunting and tracking that deer. It was brilliant. But then Gale comes along and scares her, then says, “What are you going to do with that deer?” She says she’s going to sell it to peace keepers on reaping day—reaping day!—and he chastises her like a child, telling her she can’t on that day. Well, DUH. She knows this already; she is far from stupid. Really, movie team? You couldn’t have explained this another way?

Katniss on the train. The movie team chose to make Peeta the brave one here. It was his idea (not Effie’s, as it was in the book) to get Haymitch to help them; he would “talk to” their mentor to get him on board. Look, I know this was done to establish that Peeta is likeable and convincing, but it didn’t work for me—and it just made Katniss look stupid. And she isn’t.

Katniss in the Capitol. Again, Peeta was made to look smarter by grasping her hand, when it was really Cinna’s idea in the book. Katniss refuses, then holds it in spite of herself. Why do this? To make Peeta seem like he’s more charming? Again, he didn’t. And he didn’t seem to be as in love with her as he did in the book, either, by the way.

Katniss in the tree. This scene was one of the biggest that bothered me when adapted, because instead of charming the cameras and looking triumphant, taunting the Careers below her with, “Why don’t you come up?” and waving an arrow above their heads, she looks terrified (as she is) and helpless. Again, really? Katniss is exceptionally shrewed, knowing that there are cameras and playing them to her best abilities. This was pretty much ignored in the movie.

Katniss being aided by Rue. It’s true that Rue helps Katniss by giving her leaves to aid the stinging pain, but in the film she puts them on her while she is asleep. This makes the audience think that she might have saved Katniss’s life, and that she might not be alive if not for Rue! (This is true regarding the tracker jacker nest and the Career ambush, by the way; just not with the leaves.) This is simply untrue. When Katniss wakes, Rue shows her how to use the leaves, just as she helps Rue by giving her some burn ointment. This allows them to have a bonding moment and crucial dialogue that helps us get to know Rue (and Katniss, actually) better, when this is all cut down to mere moments in the film.

 

Continue to Part 2