Recently Life & Style (via Celebbuzz) ran a story announcing plans to amp up the romance in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games. While those unfamiliar with the source material are likely sighing over the fact that yet another teen love triangle is about to grace the big screen, longtime fans aren’t particularly happy either. In Suzanne Collins’ book, romance isn’t really even on Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) mind until she’s chosen to compete in the Hunger Games alongside Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and a staged romance could work to their advantage. Meanwhile, the other man in Katniss’ life is back at home in District 12, her hunting partner, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth).
It’s tough to delve too deep without spoiling any of the The Hunger Games or Catching Fire and Mockingjay for that matter, but ultimately, there is no love triangle in the first book of the series. Should Lionsgate stick to the books, yes, a love triangle may brew over the course of the novels, but it’s really nonexistent in book one, so word of them beefing up an element that doesn’t even exist is a bit alarming and suggests the decision could be financially fueled.
As much as I love this trilogy, I’m not a stickler when it comes to keeping the source material intact. In fact, I invite the studio and filmmakers to do anything necessary in order to bring The Hunger Games to the big screen in the best way possible. As we’ll discuss in The Hunger Games Countdown tomorrow, there are a slew of scenes missing from the book that could make excellent additions to the film. However, one thing all of those moments have in common is that they don’t stray from the original story, simply allow the audience to view it from different perspectives.
Clearly I’m very much anti-bigger love triangle, but the less stubborn folks at The Hob, Theresa of Down With The Capitol and Tanvi of Hunger Games Network, were willing to consider the pros and con of a more prominent romance in The Hunger Games movie.
Pro: I can only see this being a positive change if it is done in a certain, tasteful way. To do that, Katniss' journey should not be affected. If what they mean by "ramping up" the love triangle means we get to see Gale's emotional reactions to what he is seeing in the Games on TV, then I wouldn't mind that in the least. It informs the audience of Gale's thoughts and feelings before Katniss is aware, but, the key point here is that she’s still oblivious. Her emotional journey needs to stay as it is in the book. (Theresa)
Con: When we think of fiction-to-film movies, we tend to come up with a rather disappointing list. For example, Eragon the movie created a wonderful character in Saphira, but went on too far into the hinted romance between Eragon and Arya instead of focusing on the real plot. That completely unhinged the series, leaving no scope of improvisation. Another movie that was completely off the point was The Golden Compass. (Tanvi)
Pro: A love triangle increases the drama and draws in an audience. It can really amp up the excitement and get people to pick sides, root for a certain boy; it's fun and gives viewers hope! Although it's not the focus of the story, there is a love triangle in the book. It's a peripheral storyline, but it's there. So for anyone who has not read the books and/or is not a fan of dystopian novels, the love triangle will provide a familiar angle they can understand and relate to. Who doesn't love a good love story? (The Hob)
Con: Though The Hunger Games has many different themes running through it, including romance, it is not the central point in the story and I would hate to see that ramped up simply to put a certain demographic of viewers in the theater seats. The Hunger Games is a complex piece with various layers, all in a balance. To move one up to a higher level of importance than it is in the books disturbs that balance and could adversely affect how the other elements are portrayed, leading the non-readers to see it as something it is not. Plus, The Hunger Games has something that Twilight doesn’t; a strong male audience. If the romance is played up, you risk losing them. Not necessarily the best trade off. (Theresa)
Pro: We're a fan base, yes; we know what's going to happen at the end. But there are many more out there in the world who will go to the theatres and watch this movie called The Hunger Games, experiencing the story for the first time. They have no idea how the trilogy ends and for them, the love triangle could be an alluring factor. Let's be real – the commercial point of view is very important. (Tanvi)
Con: It detracts from the overarching emotional content. Katniss isn't choosing a boyfriend; she's trying to save her own life and those that she cares for. Marketing this movie as a love triangle not only trivializes the important societal and ethical issues addressed, but it also unfairly perpetuates the comparisons to movies like Twilight. They are not the same movie, and purposefully linking them together will turn off many potential fans who won't understand what exactly The Hunger Games is. Playing up the love angle does a complete injustice to the more important issues of power, violence, entertainment and identity discussed in the book. (The Hob)