Famous Lines Make The Character

Get ready, because it’s time for another brilliant guest post!

Today we’re hearing from Rachel. She knows that The Hunger Games movie can’t be a perfect representation of the books, but she thinks filmmakers really missed the target when deciding to cut out particular elements of the story. Check it out!

_______________________________________________________

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark The Hunger Games

We see the difference… and it is sexy.

I love the Hunger Games (well…..obviously since I’m here. Duh), both the book and the movie. And they are both absolutely………just A-MA-ZING so much that my friends are now totally obsessed and have been subtly shoved into the Hunger Games fandom. So it really does kind of hurt to admit that, as beautifully done as the film was, there is a teensy tiny thing that I really MUST ask all of you guys about.

Book Peeta. Movie Peeta. Did you notice a difference? Did you think the character was slightly……tweaked? When I was watching The Hunger Games (in the cinema trying to ignore the excited squeaking of my best friend), I couldn’t help but to see the differences between the two.

Something like that…

Look, I know all the characters were hardly going to have the same depth in the film as they did in the book. Although I would be happy to sit through 3 or 4 hours of Hunger Games fun, I’m not sure some unsuspecting people may have been quite so overjoyed at waiting so long for the bathroom. But I really hoped most of the lines which gave the characters such depth would be included. Lines like “Come to finish me off, sweetheart?” and “Besides, I like watching you sleep. You don’t scowl. It improves your looks a lot” deserve a million gold stars, never mind to be spoken in the film. These lines need to be in there to show that while Peeta loves Katniss, he is not a complete pushover who Katniss has manipulated. And although Katniss manipulated the audience into believing her love for Peeta, she never manipulated Peeta into loving her.

Peeta has an emotional backbone and I think everyone sees this better in the books. But we see how Peeta is physically strong in the movie. I don’t know about you guys but I didn’t picture Peeta as physically strong, but I’m glad Josh Hutcherson portrayed him as a little bit stronger than I previously thought he was. In the books, Peeta is a complex emotional character; I liked that the movie added another dimension to the character and I think the character becomes complete when you combine the two different sides of Peeta.

In Catching Fire, I really hope they include all the lines that make the characters relatable and make them seem…..well, real.

I mean, who would want to miss quotes like this in future Hunger Games films: “Why? Do you find this…distracting?”– Finnick Odair
Rachel

Advertisements

24 comments

  1. I thought a very similar thing with Clove. The really toned down her little speech at the feast. It loses the terrifying effect, and you don’t understand in the movie that this little girl is a crazy psychopathic sadist. If you hadn’t read the books, you’d be confused as to how Isabel is holding down Jennifer, when Jenn has a good few inches and pounds on Isabel.

    I thought that Peeta and Clove suffered the most in the dialogue department, though I was dissapointed with Thresh’s lines as well.
    Both Thresh and Clove had such small parts anyways, did they really have to cut out maybe a minute extra in dialogue?

    1. I actually thought Clove was fine and that Isabelle did a wonderful job. Yes, I would’ve liked to hear the entire speech, but I think the same effect was pretty much given.

      The two characters that I think really slacked in characterization was Peeta and Rue. Peeta was portrayed as a much weaker character in the movie, and Rue wasn’t given the extra scenes to really make her death extremely upsetting. I don’t think the fault lies with the actors. I think they both did a good job portraying their characters. The fault all lies in the script (which was I really didn’t like with The Hunger Games movie. Everything was great except for the script). That’s why I’m really excited to have such professionals tackling the Catching Fire script (and hopefully the Mockingjay ones as well). I’m thinking that some of the same mistakes won’t be made again. 🙂

  2. @savanah. im sorry, i didnt quite get what you mean about the professional comment. i looked through gary ross’ previous works and the current writer simon beaufoy. I wonder whether i missed something.

    1. Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the first draft of the Catching Fire script, has written Academy-Award type works (he even won for Slumdog Millionaire). Michael Ardnt, who worked on revisions of the Catching Fire script, has also received honorary awards for his screenplays. The Hunger Games only had Billy Ray (who I don’t believe has received any prestigious awards for his screenplays. Please correct me if I’m wrong), Gary Ross (who had many other things on his plate with The Hunger Games, so the script was probably not his first concern), and Suzanne Collins. In my opinion, the script lacked in certain area in The Hunger Games movie. With Lionsgate grabbing the big names for the sequel’s script (even getting the attention of Philip Seymour Hoffman by doing so!), I have high hopes/assum that the second script will be extremely better than the first. 🙂

      1. Am I the only one who finds it very ironic that you’re saying THG “only had” Ray, Ross, and Collins, and suggesting that Beaufoy and Ardnt are better scriptwriters? After all, it’s Collins who wrote the actual books!

        I guess I’ll have to say something a bit critical about Collins, hope that’s okay. We can’t just blame Ross and others for not being completely true to her vision. We have to also blame Collins herself for okaying a script that didn’t present her own characters in the best light.

        I also don’t have as much of a problem with minor characters like Clove and Thresh having their lines cut, though I agree that giving Rue and Peeta a little more to work with would have helped.

        I can also understand some of the rationale for cutting out some of Peeta’s lines. The overall mood of THG movie is quite serious, and you could argue that Peeta saying funny things like “come to finish me off, sweetheart” would have disrupted that.

        I agree with Rachael, though, that by cutting out most of those lines, the movie also leaves out a very important part of the Peeta-Katniss relationship dynamic, which is that Peeta is NOT a pushover. He loves Katniss, but isn’t afraid to challenge and confront her if he thinks she needs it. I think one change that would have helped show this, and would still keep the overall serious mood, would be to NOT omit the part where Peeta is so adamant that Katniss not go to the “feast” that she has to resort to tricking and drugging him.

        I have read, though, on this very same VV blog, that perhaps the filmmakers left that out because it would be too reminscent of a date-rape drug. I don’t personally think so, though. Including this would also have helped foreshadow how Peeta gets tricked and drugged by other people in MJ who have far less benign motives.

      2. I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to bash the other screenwriters and for my words to come off that way. I should have worded that line differently. My bad.

        What I was meaning was that Beaufoy and Ardnt are more critically-acclaimed scriptwriters. I understand that Suzanne Collins was a screenwriter in her past, Billy Ray has won some awards, Gary Ross has been nominated at the Oscars quite a few time for his scripts… I just meant that the new writers have been praised more for their scripts. Of course, praise from critics doesn’t equal an amazing script, but it’s just nice to have that credibility added on to the franchise.
        Also– with actors of such caliber being tapped with small roles to this franchise (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amanda Plummer anyone?), I have a feeling that the script for the sequel wiil be even better than the first.

        And oh yeah! All three worked on the script, therefore all three could be at fault for a disappointing script.
        And for me, despite some character getting shafted with the script, my main fault with it was somewhat cheesy lines that didn’t seem to fit into the scenes (“I watched you going home every day” could have been changed to something less… creepy).

        I didn’t mind for some lines to be changed around for tributes with smaller roles because I felt like the effect was still the same as the book. However, Rue and Peeta, who both present a very strong emotional side of the story, having some of their lines cut? Ehhhh, they should have been kept in.
        If the movie was average length, and they didn’t want to make it too long, I could kind of understand the change. But since the movie was already long, I feel like it wouldn’t have mattered if it was just a few minutes extra in length, you know? It would only take a few seconds to give a character a line that could add more depth to him/her.

        I can understand both sides of the drug thing. Although I don’t think it would have been taken as a date-rape drug by most, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having Peeta fall asleep due to a high fever still made some sense (though it added more to the pushover thing, like you said).

  3. Couldn’t agree more! What are some of the other key lines you hope make it into Catching Fire movie?

      1. Love that line. Besides some classic “Want a sugar cube?”, I’m really hoping for:
        Peeta – “This has to stop. Right now. This – this – game you two play, where you tell each other secrets but keep them from me…”

        Katniss – “Fine. Somebody else can arrange to get the stupid goat to get knocked up.”

        Katniss – “Stay with me.” (And Peeta’s whisper too soft to hear.)

        Katniss on the beach – “I do. I need you.”

        I better stop or I’ll end up going through the whole book quoting. Suffice it to say, I agree that some lines really need to end up in movie. Too good to end up on the cutting room floor.

  4. @Satsuma, crikey, didn’t you just drop your own little bomb here!? (Being a bit critical of Suzanne Collins, otherwise known as the goddess to some of her fans.) In defense of Ross and Collins, I know that when I am in process of re-writes/editing, I can sometimes lose a big picture perspective. I think somewhere along the line, they forgot to repeatedly ask, how will this character come across to someone who’s never read the book? The script result is certainly not for lack of Ross or Collins understanding the characters. However, playing devil’s advocate, this is kinda THEIR JOB as script writers. The movies can’t just be for book fans, therefore characters and motivations need to be clear from dialogue & body cues.

    I think we can all agree there’s room for improvement, especially with Peeta’s character, as Rachael has so eloquently described in Movie Peeta vs. Book Peeta.

    I’m not sure that Peeta’s conversation with Katniss about not going to the feast is the best way to show Peeta’s emotional strength, but it is certainly one way. Agree: Peeta is not a pushover! To me, the scene in District 11 when Peeta gets mad at Haymitch and Katniss would accomplish more to show Peeta’s emotional character. Not just him getting angry, but a line like this, “Don’t bother, Haymitch. I know you had to choose one of us. And I’d have wanted it to be her. But this is something different… We all know I’m better than Katniss in front of the cameras. No one needs to coach me on what to say. But I have to know what I’m walking into…”

  5. HGBC: I hope no one gets on me for criticizing Suzanne Collins, or accuses me of not being a true fan, because I have plenty of criticisms about some of her choices, not just in terms of her contributions to the script, but in the books themselves. Many of the criticisms of THG for putting the plot and sociopolitical themes above character development remind me of similar criticisms about Mockingjay.

    Also, it seemed many of the readers of Mockingjay could not understand many of Katniss’s actions at the end of the book. While it would be easy to blame those readers for being too stupid or careless to understand what SC meant, so many readers got the wrong impression, about the reason for a certain vote Katniss makes at the end of the book, that I can’t let SC herself off the hook for it. I don’t think being a “fan” of a book/movie franchise means I have to check my brain at the door! I do hope that HG fandom isn’t like some other fandoms that way.

    I’ve also seen the “but Collins was okay with it” defense of many of the aspects of the movie that people criticized, as if her opinion is all that matters. Anyway, if people are going to criticize the movie, then, since SC was so involved in the casting, script writing, and even was personally present for the filming of such scenes as Rue’s death, I think that you can’t separate her from that criticism. It’s not like some other adaptations where the contract pretty much stripped all creative control from the author.

    I agree with you that it’s quite possible that both Collins and Ross were so familiar with the source material that they couldn’t step back and look at the movies through the eyes of someone who hadn’t read the books. I think this might explain the decisions that resulted in the other criticism of THG, that the movie did not convey to the viewer what was really going on between Katniss and Peeta. Some think the movie showed Katniss was completely sincere. Some think it showed that both Katniss and Peeta were acting, or at least that Peeta knew all along that Katniss did not return his feelings.

    I do think, though, that this aspect of the Katniss-Peeta relationship will be cleared up in CF. Josh Hutcherson has stated in multiple recent interviews that he sees Peeta as conflicted in CF, and even described the situation, where he’s still in love with Katniss, and has to act out a romance with her knowing she doesn’t love him back, as a “mind screw”. He’s also stated that he’s read the script and loved it. So I think this will become very clear in CF.

    Josh has also stated that he’s looking forward to the turn Peeta’s character takes in MJ, and I get the feeling that he might very well see what happens to Peeta in MJ as not just about sci-fi mind control techniques, but something that was meant to play into the doubts he already had about the relationship between him and Katniss. But I guess I’m getting way too ahead of myself!

    Going back to CF, it seems from all the casting calls and such that they do plan on showing the D11 scenes in some detail, not skim over it. (Which some people were concerned about, since “they already showed a D11 riot”.) So I do think that the scene where Peeta confronts Haymitch and Katniss will be filmed. I’d also hope we see the scene in which Peeta chews out Haymitch and Katniss after he finds them both drunk and tells them they’re going to train like Careers for the Quarter Quell.

    That scene also shows that Peeta is willing to fight if necessary to accomplish his goals. Which is important, because some people seem to see Peeta as a pacifist who shies away from violence, in contrast to Gale embracing it. I think that way of looking at Peeta and Gale is a gross oversimplification. (It’s also too bad that THG left out Peeta’s involvement in D8 girl’s death, and I do hope they show his encounter with Brutus.)

  6. Satsuma, whew! I would not want to face you on an opposing debate team! You have some excellent points, including that being a true fan does not equate with leaving your brain at the door.

    I completely agree that the K-P relationship was not clear to viewers of the movie, in addition to the essence of Peeta’s character. Hopefully, the Catching Fire script will resolve some of these issues. And you’re right, the scene where Peeta pours out all the liquor and confronts Katniss and Haymitch is full of drama and good character development for Peeta. I would love to see Josh go ballistic in that scene! From Josh’s interview statements, I think he really does understand Peeta. Peeta rises to the occasion to be “team leader” (or “team dictator/trainer”) in that post-Quarter Quell announcement stage. Just because Peeta tends to use words first does not mean that he shies away from getting his hands dirty when necessary.

    As far as Mockingjay, yes, I’ve heard some of the same criticisms of Suzanne Collins. Some people felt like the last chapter or two was rushed and under-developed. I personally liked the way she ended in that it felt like “real life” to me. Good things happen but so do bad things, and life is a cocktail of all that. Not every thing in life gets resolved. No story is completely “happy ever after”, but especially not after war.

    I don’t know if this is realistic for a PG-13 young adult film, but if they write a really good script, I can hope for both Jennifer and Josh getting Oscar nominations. Jennifer will be playing scared young girl, revolutionary leader, and losing her mind. Josh will get to be ever-faithful lover who turns hijacked to fighting for his identity. As an actor, could you ask for more intense roles? That is some serious character arc!

    1. “I personally liked the way she ended in that it felt like “real life” to me. Good things happen but so do bad things, and life is a cocktail of all that. Not every thing in life gets resolved. No story is completely “happy ever after”, but especially not after war.”

      Oh, I agree with all that. But, I don’t think the criticism about the ending is just “it wasn’t happily ever after”. This insinuation that those who had problems with MJ just wanted a “fairy tale ending” annoys me, because it is, again, a way to suggest that everything SC wrote is perfect and golden, and that if any one has a problem with it, that’s on them, not her. Perfect authors are no more realistic than completely happy endings.

      It’s that the ending was so confusing that, for example, many readers came away thinking that Peeta was still dangerous to Katniss, and that any day he could strangle her again. Or that Katniss really wanted the Hunger Games to continue with Capitol kids, instead of voting “yes” just as a bluff. I don’t think SC meant for Peeta to still be dangerous, or for Katniss to have really supported the Games. It’s one thing to agree or disagree with the author’s message, it’s quite another to get the completely wrong impression of what that message was.

      I guess this is off-topic for this discussion, but maybe I will eventually write a guest post about this issue of whether one can have criticisms of the books and still be a fan.

      1. I’ll reply to myself because I thought of a good analogy as to why I think some of the MJ criticism is warranted, especially about that pivotal vote. Soooo many readers, even those who post on fan sites, have accepted without question that her vote was for real, writing things like “I like Katniss, but I disagree with her decision to make the Capitol kids go into the Hunger Games”. Or worse, write that they agree with the decision to give the Capitol “a taste of their own medicine”. It would be so easy to dismiss such readers stupid and shallow readers who just didn’t get the messages SC was trying to convey, but I think there are way too many of them, to let SC off the hook.

        Especially considering how it seems most of the readers who read this wrong, were the YA readers that MJ is supposed to be marketed to. I think that SC was pushing the envelope of YA literature when she wrote MJ, and wound up with a work praised by professional book critics and many adults, especially those who had experienced war, or just a less than ideal life. However, it seems she didn’t quite manage to get her message across to much of the actual target audience, and I think for a YA writer, that is a mark against her.

        To just say that readers who didn’t understand or like MJ are poor readers, is like saying that if a whole bunch of people get a question wrong on a test, that says nothing about the quality of the question. But in reality, with both standardized tests and simple in-house tests written by one teacher, there is a process where test-takers can challenge a question if they think it’s poorly written. I’ve taken tests myself in which there were questions written poorly, and where pretty much everyone got the question wrong. Then, the teacher decided that the question was “unfair” and that everyone would be graded as if they got it right, or it would either be taken out of the scoring completely.

        That’s how I feel about parts of MJ, that much of it was too confusing. I can see what SC was doing, but, much as she may have when she worked on the HG script, she was too close to her own material to be able to step back and think, “Ok, will the average YA reader be able to understand that I mean for Katniss to be plotting something here?” Or think, “Will the reader understand why Katniss can’t forgive Gale for Prim’s death?” Because that’s another criticism, that people just can’t understand why Katniss would throw away her friendship with Gale when “blaming him for Prim’s death is like blaming the spear-maker for Rue’s death!” Etc.

  7. i think the ambiguous relationship of K-P as depicted in the first movie ties with the ‘real or not real’ bit as one of the main/overarching themes of the trilogy and will make for a meaningful (dramatic? more ‘impactful’?) turn of events (if approached/addressed and delivered well) on the second movie.

    i think the first movie’s purpose is to ground/establish that one main character that is Katniss and tackling the storyline using her perspective (during most of the movie) is effective in such that it exhibits (or highlight or magnify) her strengths/game-play/thoughts so that we as the audience really back up the “Heroine” of the movies/story.

    i mean, how awesome it will be that in ‘Catching Fire’ you Realize that Katniss is, afterall, not the ‘superior one in the trio’.

    i think the approach was, center is Katniss (1st movie) then branching out to the Others around her wherein she recognizes their strengths and able to work with others (2nd movie) and then the last 2 films…
    (i think this approach, in essence, stays true to the spirit and approach of the books. something like, independence then interdependence …)

    i do agree that the first movie has aspects that could be improved (Peeta’s characterization), though in my opinion those deducted in the movie or those things that were changed in the first installment could still be addressed (more appropriately, in my opinion) on Catching Fire. hopefully.

    i am not as eloquent as the others here, but i do hope you get what i am trying to say. 🙂

  8. @Satsuma, I definitely think you have enough insight to write a post on fan/criticisms. My question to you would be what makes the difference between a fan and a critic?

    I definitely see some of your points about Mockingjay, especially the ambiguity of why Katniss agreed with putting Capitol children in last Hunger Games. I had to read that part several times to understand that “telepathy” between Katniss and Haymitch. Suzanne Collins could have given us a short paragraph of Katniss’ inner monologue sometime after shooting Coin to clarify why she made that decision.

    Re: our rousing debate about some issues with THG script, mainly having to do with the ambiguity of Katniss-Peeta’s relationship and Peeta’s character in general…
    I got my husband to watch THG with me last night. He’s not a fan, has never seen it before and has not read the books. He couldn’t tell whether Katniss and Peeta were just trying to get Capitol citizens to like them [by pretending to have a relationship] or whether it was a genuine romance. He also commented that Peeta’s character seemed under-developed. He didn’t see any of the qualities in Movie Peeta that I have described to him in the past about Book Peeta.

    I got to watch some of the special features on the dvd today and again was struck, when listening to Gary Ross, by how much Gary and Josh really do understand the character of Peeta. So why did that character get diluted in the script? Apparently Suzanne wrote draft 1 of script but had some challenges/questions with how to deal with some things. Then Billy Ray wrote second draft before Gary came along. Then Gary wrote final script, some of it in collaboration with Suzanne, and apparently they went through book paragraph by paragraph determining what to keep/alter. So what happened? It just seems like such a glaring problem, when really, there are so, so many things about the movie that are done exceedingly well.

  9. Well, I think a fan often thinks, “Well I like it, so it’s good”. And really, if I put my fan hat on, I liked the series, and most of the movie. I actually understood that Peeta is supposed to return to himself by the end of MJ, and that Katniss voting “yes” to the Hunger Games proposed by Coin is a ruse. I also understand why Katniss and Gale split apart so totally. However, when I started to actually peruse the fandom, I noticed that many readers did not understand these, and many other key points. And I was forced to conclude that even though I personally liked the book, I couldn’t say it was a total success.

    Note that while THG and CF seemed to get almost universal acclaim, if you look at non-fan site reviews such as Amazon.com or goodreads.com, the reviews for MJ were, at best, mixed. Many reviewers admitted that they would have rated the book even lower than they did, but added on a star or point to give SC credit for trying, or because “the first two books were so good”. Even on fansites, many people expressed disappointment at MJ. Unfortunately, much of the debate about this became very personal. People who liked the book defended it, and SC, fiercely, and often attacked people who didn’t like the book as immature, shallow, or even stupid readers who just wanted a “fairy tale ending” and should go back to reading Twilight.

    It seems that most of the people who liked MJ tended to be older readers who had some knowledge of what it’s like to serve in the military. Unlike the first two books, that did well at crossing over between the YA genre and a larger audience of adults, the third book seemed to cross over so much that it left the original audience behind. I think most people would agree that a totally faithful adaptation of MJ would HAVE to be rated “R”. One of the rationales for keeping the movies PG-13 is to allow the main target audience of the books to attend without their parents, and not abandon that core audience. So, again, while I’d hate to say this, it does seem that SC did lose sight of that target audience in MJ.

    For example, what happens with Gale. I think most older readers would understand that many times, childhood friends and first loves don’t last, but younger readers might not have enough life experience to understand that. They might think “But me and Suzie are going to be BFF forever till we’re old and gray, why can’t Katniss and Gale stay friends?” Not realizing that there’s a pretty significant chance that ten years later, Suzie will have moved 5000 miles away and turned into a distant Facebook friend. But a teenager isn’t going to think that’ll happen, and I think that if SC had realized that, maybe she would have presented this development in a way a YA reader could accept.

    Anyway, I think I’ll stop now before this gets totally OT, but I do plan on incorporating this into a longer post!

    1. @satsuma: reading the first and second paragraphs had me nodding the whole time. 🙂 i wish i could express my thoughts in writing the way you do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s