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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Hunger Games can be found here.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take the place of her younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields) when Prim is selected as their district 12 representative to the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Katniss is coached by Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), the only district 12 representative to have survived the games, and then sent out against the 22 representatives of the other 11 districts as well as against Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), her friend and the other representative from district 12.
The Hunger Games is a 2008 novel by American novelist Suzanne Collins. It is the first of four movies in the series. The novel was adapted for the film by Collins herself, in collaboration with American screenwriters Billy Ray and Gary Ross (who also directed the movie). It was followed by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014), and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015).
At some point in the past, the 13 districts in the nation of Panem rose against the ruling Capitol. The districts were ultimately defeated, and the 13th district was annihilated. In order to remember the past and control future rebellions, the Capitol decreed in the Treaty of the Treason that each year in penance for their uprising, the 12 remaining districts must each offer up, as tribute, a male and female between the ages of 12 and 18 at a public 'reaping'. These 24 Tributes will then compete with each other in a public arena where they must fight to the death until a lone victor remains. The battle is televised for all to watch and known as the Hunger Games. Nowadays, however, it's all about intimidating the population and putting on a good show.
Not all of the Tributes are named, and half of them kill each other in the first few minutes of the game. Besides Katniss and Peeta, the ones to keep an eye on are Glimmer (Leven Rambin), Marvel (Jack Quaid), Rue (Amandla Stenberg), Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman), Foxface (Jacqueline Emerson), Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi), and Cato (Alexander Ludwig).
One week. Day 1 features the Reaping and start of train journey. On day 2, Tributes arrive at Capitol, makeovers and Tribute Parade. Days 3-4 are spent training. Day 5 features skill demonstrations with Gamemakers; scores announced. Day 6 is taken up with interviews. On day 7, the Games begin. In the book, there is an extra day for interview preparation. This was omitted from the movie.
Panem essentially consists of the parts of North America that survived a streak of natural disasters (mainly drought, storms and floods). It is implied that mainly higher territories, such as mountain ranges, survived. Much of Panem's territory is situated in the former United States of America; it is unknown whether areas of Canada and Alaska have survived or if they also make up parts of Panem. The Capitol is situated in the Rocky Mountains. It is from there that the Panem government was founded. All the Districts surround the Capitol at varying distances. District 12 is a village situated in the Appalachian Mountains. It is still a coal mining area, as it has been for centuries. It is the District which is farthest away from the Capitol, explaining why the trip by high-speed train still lasts several days.
The movie briefly touches upon the motivation of some people to become a Career and to volunteer as tribute during the introduction movie played at the Reaping. President Snow mentions that the victor of each Hunger Game is 'bathed in riches' as a reminder of the Capitol's generosity and forgiveness. Since the Districts live in varying degrees of poverty, winning the Games is the fastest (albeit a dangerous) way to obtain personal riches. If one trains for the Games an entire childhood, the odds of winning can increase substantially. The book goes into even greater detail about this. The winner gets medical treatment to recover from the wounds received during the Games. Upon return to his or her District, the victor gets to live in the 'Victor's Village', an area with luxurious villas with hot water. Even more, all the families in the victor's District receive additional food and products for an entire year. So winning is not only good for personal gain, the entire District benefits from it as well, giving the tributes an extra incentive. Most Careers are from District 1, 2 and 4, and are frequent winners of the Games, which may explain why those areas are among the wealthiest of Districts within Panem (Katniss' District 12 has very few past winners and is amongst the poorest). Furthermore, where most tributes are unwilling candidates, some Districts actually pride themselves on being frequent winners, which has likely started a tradition of young people becoming Careers, expected to bring more glory (and luxuries) to their District, despite the risks. Cato, the male District 2 tribute, mentions briefly that killing and bringing pride to his District is all he knows to do.
From the book: "Then something unexpected happens. At least, I don't expect it because I don't think of District 12 as a place that cares about me. But a shift has occurred since I stepped up to take Prim's place, and now it seems I have become someone precious. At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me. It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love." Later, Katniss uses it as a similar sign of friendship, respect and goodbye to Rue. The crowd in Rue's District 11 sees her doing it on the screen, and immediately copies it. However, they seem to interpret it as a sign of defiance. Normally, tributes such as the Careers only cooperate for their own personal gain, in order to get rid of dangerous competition before murdering each other. By giving Rue a proper burial and saluting her, Katniss effectively shows the rulers that tributes can be friends, and that she will not be put against her fellow tributes so easily. It is a symbolic moment for the Districts that shows them that they can work together against their common enemy. It immediately incites a short rebellion within District 11, and by the next movie, the salute has been adopted as a sign of silent protest.
Because she is dark-skinned in the book. She and Thresh, the fellow tribute from her district, are described in the novel as having "dark brown skin and eyes". Some readers may have been confused because there are several references to how Rue reminds Katniss of her sister Prim. Katniss and Prim are white and many interpreted these references to mean that Rue resembled Prim physically. However, what author Suzanne Collins means is that Rue reminds Katniss of her sister's nature and not her appearance. Both Rue and Prim are young, shy, seemingly fragile, and inspire protective instincts in Katniss.
With Cato dead, Katniss and Peeta are clearly the winners. Suddenly, the Gamekeepers change the rules again, going back to the original plan where there can be only one victor. Peeta offers Katniss the chance to kill him, but Katniss refuses. Instead, she places half of the nightlock berries in Peeta's hand and suggests that they give the Capitol no winners. Just as they are about to swallow them, the Gamekeeper relents and declares them the winners. Katniss and Peeta are brought back to the Capitol where Haymitch warns them that they have made powerful enemies by their defiance. They are congratulated and crowned by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) at the same time that Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) is locked in a room with only a bowl of nightlock berries to eat. In the final scene, Katniss and Peeta take the train home to District 12, while President Snow scowls and walks away to ponder the situation.
The following answers apply only to the HUNGER GAMES movie and ignore what happens to surviving characters in the book sequels.Katniss: Survives to the very end, nearly commits suicide, but is stopped by the capitol. Returns home with Peeta.Peeta: Survives to the very end, almost commits suicide, but is stopped by the capitol. He returns home with Katniss.Glimmer: Stung to death when Katniss drops a trackerjacker nest in front of her group.Marvel: Attempts to throw a spear at Katniss, who ducks, only for the spear to hit Rue. Katniss immediately shoots Marvel with one of her arrows and kills him instantly.Rue: Stabbed by Marvel's spear.Clove: Attacks Katniss when she tries to get Peeta's medicine. She starts to gain the upper hand but after a few remarks about killing Rue she is attacked by Thresh, who beats her to death against the wall of the cornucopia.Foxface: Unknowingly eats a few poisonous Nightlock berries mistakenly picked by Peeta and dies quickly as a result.Thresh: Presumably killed by mutant killer dogs added to the game area by the capitol.Cato: Makes it to the very end of the game, attempts to use Peeta as a human shield. Katniss shoots him in the hand and he falls off the cornucopia where he is attacked by the mutant dogs. Katniss shoots him one more time to put him out of his misery.Seneca Crane is locked in an empty room with a bowl holding the Nightlock berries that Katniss and Peeta threatened to swallow together. Presumably, Seneca is forced to commit suicide by swallowing the berries, as punishment for failure to "contain" the growing hope spread among the colonies by Katniss and Peeta's struggle.
His fate very closely mirrors the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger, who was condemned to suicide by blood loss.
Despite the book being aimed at a rather young audience, it does contain a few scenes of violence, which were worrying the producers even before the filming had started. Keeping the scenes true to the book would have meant receiving the R-Rating, but of course this was supposed to be a movie for the PG-13 viewer. Therefore, the scenes were softened and The Hunger Games was rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens. The British branch of Lionsgate had similar problems, they were aiming for the BBFC12A rating. In order to get the rating, it was decided that the movie was to be censored. Accordingly, a rough cut was given to the BBFC so they could say which alterations they wanted made in return for the lower rating. These included cuts and the digital removal of some blood. However, the first cut version that was created to meet these limitations was still rejected and The Hunger Games did not get the BBFC12A rating before a few more cuts were added. On DVD the movie was released in a censored version with a BBFC 12 rating, whereas the Blu-ray features the uncensored version with a BBFC 15 rating. In comparison 14 alterations can be found and a detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.
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