Scars (Or Lack Thereof)

As we wait for the Blu-Ray/DVD release of Mockingjay Part 2, there are some more BTS featurette clips to tide us over in the meantime. One of the clips shows the work makeup designer Ve Neill and her team did for the movie.

No doubt Katniss has a rough time in Mockingjay Part 2, and the makeup team did a great job making the neck and chest bruising very believable. And it sounds like the team went to a lot of effort on the burn makeup as well. Only those burns (and the inevitable scars) barely made it on screen, and we think that was a mistake.

Don’t get us wrong. We didn’t WANT to see more damage done to our favorite character really. Our poor girl is strangled, shot, and then the massively burned, and it’s awful that she endures that. But the physical hurt she experiences is a part of the Mockingjay journey, and part of the lesson of Mockingjay. We were disappointed at how Katniss’s injuries were glossed over, because it took weight out of the story’s message.

burned katniss

First of all the fire completely misses her face, in an “amazing” stroke of Hollywood luck. Then there’s the magical Capitol burn medicine that seems to fix everything in a flash (to be fair on that point, we don’t know how long Katniss is in the hospital, but the movie’s quick cuts make the recovery FEEL too quick). Was the burn makeup deemed too intense to be given more than a few seconds of screen time? What was behind the decision to make Katniss look physically well so fast?

Beyond the magic of the complete burn recovery, the moment that really seemed out of place was when she returns back to 12, goes hunting and Katniss’s gorgeous hair is blowing in the wind. She looks beautiful. She looks physically healthy. But accelerating her physical recovery SO MUCH faster than her mental one was a change from the book that felt a little too much like Hollywood being afraid to show a woman with physical imperfections. After 2 hours of trauma, suddenly seeing “shampoo commercial Katniss” took me completely out of the movie.

We love it when Katniss is allowed to look real. No wonder critics and fans alike thought the Buttercup scene was great. Give us the slobbery ugly cry! That looks like a real person in despair, and Jennifer Lawrence OWNS that scene. After all that Katniss physically goes through, no one expects her to look perfect. (And if they do, screw them).

We love you, scars and all, Katniss






  1. SOOOOO TRUE. I had prepared myself to see a mentally broken Katniss trying to find herself. I was ready to see scars and burns alike. I feel more people who never read the books would have appreciated her more had they shown everything she went through

  2. Hear ya.
    I chalked the lack-of-scars up to the idea of the doctors being mainly concerned with getting rid of visible marks. But yeah, overall…from the burns and scars to the “shampoo-commercial” hair…it almost seemed as if they erred toward the propo mistake from Part 1–almost showing Katniss as some kind of glowing goddess when it’s in fact more effective to see her as the beaten, bruised, battered person she is.

  3. As I recall, Katniss’s face NOT being burned, or at least being burned very mildly, so that the burns could be easily covered with makeup, was actually the case in the MJ book as well. I even remember thinking, when I first saw the movie promo shot of “Katniss leading the citizens of Panem across the Capitol” that “her face looks like she put on a lot of makeup, this must be after she was burned and she needed heavy makeup to hide the scars”.

    One could even argue that her scars not being erased in MJ, though understandable as part of SC’s message about the wounds of war never completely healing, is a bit of a plot inconsistency since Capitol scar-erasing technology is established in THG.

    Since Coin did still decide to use Katniss for essentially one final propo by having her be Snow’s executioner, I think her authorizing actual burn treatment, as opposed to just the Panem version of Dermablend to hide the burns, isn’t too implausible.

    However, I do agree with the point about post-war D12 Katniss looking a bit too perfect. But it seems movie!Katniss has always been a little closer to a traditional “perfect” heroine than the original book version. Such as the look of steely determination on her face at the end of the CF movie, or how she’s far more active in both demanding Peeta’s rescue, and actually engaging Snow personally in MJ Part 1. While in the book, she never demands Peeta be rescued, and is much less involved in the rescue. So I do separate the two versions of Katniss in my mind.

    1. It’s true that Katniss is more like a traditional heroine in the movies. More likeable, sometimes more courageous. However, in both CF and MJ1 they make a big point of showing the toll the two Games take on her. Several examples of PTSD symptoms. So to then show so little of it after the real war…in contrast to the book.. and after saying in so many interviews that the point of the story is the consequences of violence (Francis)… it just makes little sense. The hunting trip is a good example: In the book, it’s failure. She tries to go hunting *after* meeting Peeta not before (only then she got the energy), but can’t.

    2. Good points. That is pretty much what I was thinking about the scar-erasure and all.
      And yeah, the movies did take some deliberate measures to show the audience a more likable, proactive, typically “heroic” main character…not that those little touches or edits should justify skimping on the evidence of damage, of course…

  4. Couldn’t agree more. There is the fact that her face wasn’t burned in the book, either, I don’t think even the author’s could bear to go that far, however little she otherwise held back. But in the movie? One short scene. No visible scars after. This annoyed me in Catching Fire as well.
    In MJ2, I think it’s part of a bigger problem: They don’t show neither the physical nor the mental consequences of the war nearly enough for Katniss or Peeta. Not one flasback or other anxiety attack. Not one nightmare. No scars. All she does is talk about it, in in the Epilogue, while smiling.

  5. On the issue of her face, I’ll concede it’s picky, but when Collins wrote “My eyes were spared. MOST of my face was spared” (emphasis mine) that meant she had some damage. I agree Collins probably took a little pity on her heroine here. She’s been hurt enough. But my interpretation was that she did have visible, if subtle, scars on her face/neck for years, if not a lifetime.

    I think one of the major challenges of the end was effectively communicating Katniss’s traumatic journey. The overwhelming mood of the post-Prim scenes was numbness (with the cat scene being the big cathartic break). While the numbness is certainly a big part of her journey, there were other pieces that we needed in the movie to truly understand, TO FEEL what she’s going though. The physical evidence was one easy piece to help communicate that, so it surprises me that they glossed over it so much.

    1. We definitely agree on this. Even if her face *had* been spared, they should have shown the scars on other parts of the body, in line with the book. Like you say, it would have been a good and easy way to communicate the consequences of what she had been through. It’s very hard to understand why they didn’t do this and instead chose to give the wrong impression of her physical *and* mental state.

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