By the Book: Catching Fire Chapter 1
With the wait for ‘The Hunger Games’ over and the wait for ‘Catching Fire’ just heating up with a new director chosen, the Mockingjay.net staff will be doing a regular feature every 3 weeks up until the release of the ‘Catching Fire’ movie in November 2013. For each piece, we will analyze the 27 chapters of the book and see what we think will change. What makes it into the movie and what gets dropped to the cutting room floor?
These By the Book pieces will contain SPOILERS for Catching Fire so if you haven’t read the book and don’t want to know the story, stop reading right now!
Starting us off is Chapter 1, in which Katniss finds herself alone in the woods picking up the game that’s been caught. She takes it to Hazelle Hawthorne’s house, then stops at the Hob, Haymitch’s house where she encounters Peeta, and then heads home to find a most unwelcome visitor sitting in their study.
I think it will start with Katniss in the woods just like it does in the book. It will skip her just sitting there, though, and it will show her collecting from the traps and walking around. It might cut back and forth between her and the Capitol prep people, showing the contrast of her solitude vs. the crazy of the Capitol folks. After all, she IS thinking about them and what they would be doing right now in preparation. They will probably skip the part where she goes to their old house because it’s really not necessary to move the plot of the story along, and they’ll need to do a lot of cutting. So probably no Buttercup yet. I’m really hoping the scene with Hazelle stays, though. It would be nice to see that interaction and see that they’re practically like family. If they’re going to change anything around, I can see them adding Gale to that scene (even though us die-hard fans know that Gale is supposed to be working.) They’ll want to establish more of Gale/Katniss. They’ll probably cut the Hob scene entirely because even though I love Sae and Darius because not much established there that’s really important. She buys liquor for Haymitch, but we don’t need to see the actual process of her buying it. The part where Katniss throws the water on Haymitch to wake him up will HAVE to still be in there. The line “Look, if you wanted to be babied, you should have asked Peeta” followed by Peeta appearing, “Asked me what?” should definitely stay. It’d be a great introduction to seeing Katniss and Peeta together again and see the awkwardness of it. The rest of the chapter should remain relatively the same. The interactions with Katniss, Haymitch, and Peeta will need to be there. Obviously, they’re not going to cut out her meeting with President Snow. There’s a lot of potential for the meeting with him. I can’t wait to see some solid interaction between Lawrence and Sutherland.
I think a very brief recap of ‘The Hunger Games’ will start. Docu-style news footage from the 74th Games, establishing the lovers from District 12, quick edits of their story, fame, wealth and effect on the Capitol and the upcoming Victory Tour, overlapping with news footage of the unrest in the Districts. Before cutting to an oblivious Katniss, alone in the wilderness, trying to forget the ghosts from the past. Maybe a mirroring of the first film, sitting on her and Gale’s spot but alone. A slightly broken Katniss when we first glimpse her. Not as free as she once was in District 12′s woods but feeling harried and beleaguered watching as the sun “drags me into a day that I’ve been dreading for months.” I really liked Katniss mourning her old life in her old house and I hope we can go back there, see its emptiness as she changes her hunting gear into clothes of status. I think she’ll give the game to Gale early in the morning before he heads to the mines. Through a brief interaction you could also establish he won’t accept her wealth, he looks forward to their Sunday hunts, and a resentful reference from him about the Victory Tour with Peeta. I hold little hope for the inclusion of Darius or Cray even though I think Darius could be a good exposition filler if we visit the Hob. And unlike Madge (sorry Madge lovers) his story holds a little more water as an example of Snow’s cruelty. Wherever and however it happens, I want to see when Katniss and Peeta first meet. Hearing his voice off camera and see the “knot of unpleasant emotions, like guilt, sadness and fear. And longing” etched on Jennifer Lawrence’s face and an uncomfortably long gap before “he even looks at me for the first time.” Introducing Peeta, the film has to establish instantly where their true relationship stands now – awkward and formal. And I loved Haymitch’s line: “Brr. You two have got a lot of warming up to do before showtime.” Of course the most important part is how to introduce President Snow. I’d like a slow and tense lead-up before the reveal. A panicked Mrs Everdeen and a rigid, scared Prim, both pretending to be relaxed, setting Katniss immediately on edge. Something’s not right when she glimpses the brisk Capitol attendants who guide her and leave her alone in the study before realizing someone’s there. When we first see Donald Sutherland, I hope he’s calm, measured and arrogant as he finishes reading the book, not looking up, allowing us a brief glimpse of Katniss like a deer caught in the headlights.
I think there’s a decent chance that ‘Catching Fire’ will start the same way that the book does, since they’ll probably want to start by showing how things are now that Katniss is back home and showing her sitting at their spot alone may be a good way to do it. They might change the scene at Hazelle’s a bit to show the tension between her and Gale, with Gale coming home from work covered in coal dust, which makes Katniss feel awkward and head home. I have a bit of hope that they’ll put Darius into the Hob scene so that they can show some lawful dissent later, but I think Cray will definitely be cut. They can put him in just with a couple of lines referring to him, not needing an actual scene to introduce him. I don’t think Katniss will have to wake up a drunken, stinking Haymitch simply because that’s not how they set him up in the first movie. She’ll probably just go there, they’ll talk a bit about the Victory Tour, and she’ll bump into Peeta on her way out. Instead of seeing the bodyguards outside the study, I think Mrs. Everdeen will simply give her a look and Katniss will look to the side to see Snow sitting in their living room.
I don’t think ‘Catching Fire’ will start the same way as the book. I think it will start much the same as ‘Hunger Games’, with Caesar Flickerman on stage with Plutarch Heavensbee, congratulating him on his promotion after Seneca Crane’s surprise retirement. They’ll talk briefly about this year being a Quarter Quell and how it will be hard to top last year’s star-crossed lovers, who are just about to leave on their Victor’s tour of the Districts. Then the scene will cut to Katniss in the woods, checking Gale’s snares. They’ll probably have Gale in the woods with her and he’ll kiss her in the beginning instead of having her remember it later. I don’t think much in Chapter One will be included in the movie, and that they’ll cut the minor characters like Head Peacekeeper Cray, Darius, and Hazelle. Also, because they’ll be filming in late summer/early fall, I think they will omit the cold and snow from the scenes, too. I would like to see Katniss and Peeta over at Haymitch’s house, but like his fall off the stage at the Reaping, I think Haymitch’s introductory scene will be cut again. The most vital part of this chapter is the surprise visit by President Snow– they cannot leave this part out! It sets up the tour very nicely and enforces that Katniss is pretending to be in love with Peeta while giving a glimpse of just how vile President Snowand the Capitol really are.
The movie won’t likely start the same way as the book since there is a lot of internal thoughts and exposition happening – so it could really go anywhere! The one scene that I hope they keep is when Katniss wakes up drunk Haymitch by throwing water on him. That scene is too great too lose, and it leads perfectly into the awkwardness between Peeta and Katniss. The lines I don’t think they’ll kill (especially if that scene makes it in the movie) are Katniss yelling “Get up!” and Haymitch’s comment on the iciness between Katniss and Peeta.There wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue to choose from in chapter one
I think it would be a great idea to start the first film similarly to how Gary Ross did it in ‘The Hunger Games.’ in the woods. I feel like many of the characters that do not require as much screen time to build relationships, like Gale’s family, etc. will be cut out. Since, like why they cut Madge, it is more important to make the relationships between the major players seem realistic. Then, the scene where Katniss goes to The Hob and buys alcohol for Haymitch would be smart to include since it shows how their relationship has grown through the games. Then, when the scene in Haymitch’s house unfolds and Peeta shows up, they will have to portray how awkward it is between them. The one thing I am sort of confused about is how in the first film, they didn’t include the scene ‘it was all for the games, how you acted’ they only had the less obvious line where Peeta says ‘I don’t want to forget.’ I am interested in seeing how they’ll make up for that lost piece of information, since even though their performances were amazing and they got a lot across without actually saying it – I wonder if they will add a scene in the beginning of the movie that makes it obvious to the audience that Peeta is annoyed Katniss’ behavior was all an act in the games. Since, at the end of the first film Peeta still seems to believe in her performance, to a degree.
I think that Catching Fire will open up with Katniss sitting in her spot from the first movie in the woods, but without Gale, or maybe even in a totally different spot; showing how the games has distorted even her most instinctual tenancies. Doing this, and showing her without Gale would also immediately show the audience that there is a distance in their relationship that wasn’t there before the games. I think that minor characters, such as Hazelle, will be omitted purely for the reason that they are not necessary to the flow of the story and that it’ll mean less new casting. They’ll want familiar faces all around not an abundance of newbies. I really want to see them to focus on Katniss and Peeta’s relationship and where it stands now that they don’t have to pretend for cameras. Its very vague about it in the book and it was a focus of the end of ‘The Hunger Games’ movie so they’ll probably go for that angle I think… they seem keen to focus on the more romantic side to the books too so I expect more Gale/Katniss interaction and more Peeta/Katniss interaction as well. I’d love to see Katniss looking after Haymitch too, it would give them time for Haymitch’s character development which I think is important as the story unwinds. Meanwhile, there will probably be references to it being the Quarter Quell throughout the opening scenes. Obviously the most important part of this chapter is Snow’s arrival… I can’t wait to see what Jennifer does with that so it needs a really good dramatic and tense build-up.
I would like to see ‘Catching Fire’ start with a nightmare/flashback sequence of Katniss’ while she is sleeping – it would set the stage for how affected she is in future by her dreams, and I think also set-up how she carries these horrors with her daily, as well as her fears regarding the Victory Tour. Then, instead of heading to the woods alone, she would meet with Gale where their kiss takes place. I can see much of Chapter 1 being cut, including the characters Hazelle, Darius and Greasy Sae (who was already cut from ‘The Hunger Games’) to enable more time to be spent between Katniss and Gale prior to the tour. Because most of the chapter is also solely narrated by Katniss, there aren’t really any lines to be taken directly from the book, but I think it will be very important to capture Peeta and Katniss’ uneasy attitude towards each other. Haymitch will likely provide the comic relief comment, so I do hope there is a scene in Haymitch’s house when Katniss visits him after the woods. The most pivotal scene, of course, is Katniss opening the door to her study and looking into President Snow’s eyes. I think ‘The Hunger Games’ ending clearly conveyed to the audience that President Snow is to be feared, and that a visit from him would be truly frightening, so this scene and Katniss’ face at this moment must be included.