When the Filmmakers Don’t Read the Book

Image Source: Sterling Sanders

The Hunger Games movies—often hailed as some of the best book-to-movie adaptations created—managed to leave their own mark on the dystopian genre through a young adult audience. 

On the surface, the movies did an exceptional job of bringing the books to life. They stuck to the source material while still branching out on their own in some ways—which is to be expected. But, they also honed in on aspects of the books that were surface-level but not relevant to the overall message—sometimes even going against what the books were trying to say. 

The books are a critique of capitalism, consumerism, and elitism. They’re a story about survival in a totalitarian world that heavily favors the rich and elite class. They leave the poor to fend for themselves, oftentimes from the very same elite who live in the lap of luxury. The act of capitalizing on things that are inherently elitist and only serve to be status symbols in society is something that is directly lifted from and mirrored in real life. 

It shows that a class cannot truly have that amount of luxury without stepping on the backs of the poor to get there.   

The way that the Capitol citizens present themselves with gaudy outfits, jewelry, and over-the-top makeup is more than just a tacky fashion sense—it’s a statement of their superiority and wealth. They wear those makeup looks and dresses to show that they have the power. 

It’s a sinister aspect of the world, and while it might seem over the top, the very team that made the movie and brought these themes to life are the ones that also fell into that trap themselves.  

When the movies were coming out, the more aesthetic parts came from the glitz and glamour of the Capitol. This aspect of worldbuilding gave the movies something flashy to grab people’s attention. It’s meant to be a juxtaposition to how the outer districts live, especially Katniss and Peeta’s. 

The way the Capitol acts and dresses shows just how far removed they are from the atrocities that they help perpetuate in the districts. This is what the Hunger Games movies failed to grasp fully. 

They decided to create marketing campaigns with Capitol-inspired makeup and clothes. The makeup industry itself perpetuates an unrealistic beauty standard. So, when the movie makers used a theme from the book that is a direct critique against that lifestyle—putting importance on materialistic things and commodifying human beings—they managed to perfectly illustrate the themes of the books with themselves as the prime example. 

Now, of course, influencers wearing a particular makeup look doesn’t have to be sinister, but it just further encapsulates exactly why the books were written the way they were. The Capitol is a microcosm of the wider themes of the story, and the movie adaptations helped show why they were portrayed the way they were.