As with any book-to-screen adaptation, fans quickly point out changes or inaccuracies that are lost in translation. Book lovers tend to be purists when it comes to sticking to book details, but changes for film are sometimes necessary. Some scenes just don’t have the same impact on screen as they do with words. In other cases, the storyline changes a bit and so scenes are cut entirely or tweaked to fit the new narrative. Catching Fire is no exception to this. And since it’s the beloved dystopian novel’s 13th publishing anniversary, let’s take a look at some book details that didn’t make the cut.
Katniss Discovers the Electrified District 12 Fence
Before this moment in chapter 11, the fence surrounding District 12 was never turned on. Katniss regularly went through the fence to hunt in the woods with Gale. She was surprised to find it electrified when she returned after meeting Bonnie and Twill from District 8. In order to get back into District 12, she climbs a tree and breaks her heel forcing her into bed rest for the next week. This entire sequence is not in the movie likely for the purpose of saving time and not spoiling the rest of the series. For one, having Katniss on bed rest for a week doesn’t make for interesting visual scenes nor does it advance the plot on screen. Also, talking with Bonnie and Twill reveals the theory that District 13 still exists and hasn’t actually been wiped out by the Capitol too early. It’s something we find out at the end of the film to set up the story for Mockingjay.
The Wedding Gown Photoshoot
Since Katniss becomes the face of the rebellion, President Snow does everything in his power to keep her in control and obedient. This includes threatening her to keep up the image of her love with Peeta because anything she does outside of the Capitol’s approval could be seen as an act of defiance. Of course, we get the iconic twirling scene where Katniss’ dress turns into a mockingjay but we miss out on Snow’s demand for a photoshoot. He sends many dresses to District 12 for Katniss to take photos in and appear in a television program – all for propaganda. In the end, it’s not essential to the plot so it makes sense to leave this scene out. There are plenty of other moments to establish Snow’s desire to control Katniss.
Peeta’s Prosthetic Leg
This is a detail often completely overlooked because it’s only briefly mentioned at the end of the first book. The leg wound Peeta suffers in the first Games is much worse in the novel than in the movie. It’s extreme enough that he has his leg amputated and receives a prosthetic leg. Although it happens in the first book, we would see the aftermath in Catching Fire. One reason this might have been left out is to make it more realistic that Peeta volunteers for and survives the Quarter Quell. It’s one of many instances in the movies where injuries are downplayed for the purpose of letting characters recover quickly and continue moving forward. This happens with Katniss countless times as well.
Plutarch Heavensbee’s Watch Hint
In chapter 6, Plutarch Heavensbee – Seneca Crane’s replacement as Head Gamemaker – dances with Katniss at the party at Snow’s mansion. While they dance, he pulls out his pocket watch to check the time and claims he has a meeting at midnight. Katniss sees the engraved mockingjay on the screen and thinks nothing of it, but it is clearly a hint that he’s on her side. Later in the book, it’s revealed that Plutarch mentioning a midnight meeting was also a hint to Katniss about the plan to rescue the victors from the arena. This hint doesn’t happen in the movie, but it was probably to keep his involvement a secret for viewers who have never read the books. In this case, it’s a great twist that comes at the end.
Coded Bread Messages
During the Quarter Quell, some of the victors receive bread from their sponsors and they share it with the others. It seems like a passing moment, but in chapter 27 we learn the bread was a clue to the victors who were trying to keep Katniss and Peeta alive. The type of bread and number of rolls signified when they would be rescued, but Katniss was completely unaware of this. In fact, she was mostly unaware of any plan to save them in both the movie and the book. But once again, this detail may have been left out to keep the plan from being completely obvious to viewers.
Chapter 14 of Catching Fire explains how Haymitch won his games as Katniss and Peeta watch the tape. He figured out the force field around the arena bounced back anything that hit it and he used that to his advantage in the end. Next to nothing is revealed about Haymitch’s games in the movies other than that he won. It would have been a cool detail to include his story because of the parallel in the Quell that is clearly inspired by Haymitch’s strategy. Katniss destroys the arena by shooting an electrified arrow at the force field bringing the games to a halt. Though it was an amazing moment on its own, the relation to Haymitch might have made the scene more meaningful.
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