ByCraig Patrick Arnott, writer at
I'm currently studying a degree for Film Production and Cinematography.
Craig Patrick Arnott

The latest addition to the Hunger Games series Mockingjay has officially hit cinemas worldwide. Here you can get a breakdown of the movie and how the characters have changed. But read at your own risk as this article will contain major spoilers.

At the end of Catching fire we saw Katniss waking up having been rescued by prominent members of the resistance movement which are now ready to strike back against the Capitol. Now it is time for the spoilers.

The Film.

Katniss finds herself in the forgotten District 13, which states for them the war never ended, they have simply been training and getting ready to strike back. Katniss finds herself chosen to be the Mockingjay, the symbol for the resistance and they know if they miss their chance caused by the masses following Katniss has gained from her two rounds in the arena they may have to wait another 75 years before they can unite the districts. However, they soon discover simply saving Katniss was not enough to make her the Mockingjay. Katniss tell President Coin who runs District 13 that they should have saved Peeta instead.

Heavensbee and President Coin
Heavensbee and President Coin

With the Mockingjay refusing to take her place President Coin questions if they did save the wrong tribute, only for Plutarch Heavensbee to reassure her the Katniss is the right choice and they just need to give her time to recover from the Quarter Quell. He also insists letting Katniss see the destruction of District 12 to make her realise they are in a war. Meanwhile President Snow is preparing to make a statement to the Capitol about the resistant movement and refuses to call them rebels and agrees to call them radicals instead. He states in his speech to Panem that any association with the Mockingjay will be seen as an act of treason and punishable by death.

President Snow preparing for a public statement
President Snow preparing for a public statement

Katniss is taken back to District 12, Gale offers to join her but she insists she must do this alone. She walks in a shocked state looking at the destruction and it one point hears a crunch under her foot, to her horror she discovers she is stood on the skull of a victim from the destruction. She proceeds to check all the places that are familiar to her and discovers her house is completely untouched, while Peeta's house opposite is nothing but a pile of rubble.

As she enters the entire house is untouched, almost as if the horrors of District 12's destruction never happened. Activities her mother and Prim were engaged in are still sat in place ready to be continued. She proceeds to collect some items including some herbs from the kitchen for her mothers medicines, a photo of her father and her sister's cat Buttercup. What terrifies her is a pristine white rose amongst a load of dead flowers in a vase, left by Snow as a message to her.

Katniss discovers the rose.
Katniss discovers the rose.

Katniss returns to District 13 and reunites her sister with her cat, but things are clearly not fine with Katniss. She meets with Gale at the mess hall only for the Capitol to make a surprise announcement. Katniss watches in horror as Peeta sits opposite Ceaser Flickerman giving an interview as to what happened at the end of the quarter quell. Peeta calls for the Districts to a cease-fire and end the war, causing members of District 13 to cry out he is a traitor and Katniss fleeing from the mess hall. Unable to sleep Prim talks to her about just how important she is to the resistance and she could probably ask anything and they will give it to her.

Peeta being interviewed by Ceaser
Peeta being interviewed by Ceaser

Katniss goes to President Coin and requests Peeta, Johanna and Annie are given amnesty for their actions. Coin refuses saying they will be given a trial and brought to justice. This causes Katniss to demand her request instead show Coin her first glimpse of the Mockingjay she had been told so much about. Coin agrees and asks if their was anything else, to which Katniss requests Prim be allowed to keep her cat. With Katniss now agreed to be the Mockingjay she announces to the people of District 13 their symbol of hope causing all in the district to being chanting.

President Coin reveals the Mockingjay
President Coin reveals the Mockingjay

With the Mockingjay now the official symbol of the war against the Capitol, Heavensbee prepares Katniss to film her first propaganda video. Having her speech scripted and a whole stage direction decided on they begin filming, but the entire rendition lacks the spirit they were looking for in the video. Haymitch now unable to keep himself quiet proceeds to take control. He ask them for a moment where Katniss touched their hearts, to which Effie replies when she offered herself as tribute instead of her sister and when she sang her song to Rue. Haymitch asks them what was the one thing these had in common, they were unscripted.

Haymitch takes control
Haymitch takes control

With a new plan of Katniss to visit the various Districts and Katniss stating if she dies they should make sure they get it on film, she is introduced to her film crew that will follow her and film her to show all of the Districts. As she heads to depart for the first district she sees District 13 has an armoury of weapons and President Coin's right hand man states they could have struck back at the Capitol but they were not ready. Katniss tells him it sounds very much like what Peeta said in his statement before all of District 13 branded him a traitor.

The weapons of District 13
The weapons of District 13

Their first place to visit is District 8 where Katniss is welcomed by one of the leaders and is taken to a hospital where victims of a bombing by the capital are being treated. When she arrives she is shocked to see hundreds of dead bodies and is told they have a mass grave but at the moment they can not spare the man power to movie the deceased. As the patients begin to notice Katniss they start asking her questions, such as what about her baby, to which she simply says she lost it. The patients rally behind her and salute her with the three-fingered-salute.

District 8 salute the Mockingjay
District 8 salute the Mockingjay

President Snow learns Katniss is at District 8 and that she has visited the hospital. He orders for the hospital to be bombed where they have associated themselves with the Mockingjay and are traitors to Panem. Katniss and Gale along with the film crew watch as the bomber start taking out the defences of District 8 and begin to target the hospital. Katniss and Gale both engage and Katniss takes them down using her new explosive arrows given to her by Beetee. They reach the hospital only to discover it in complete ruins and burning wildly. The film crew capture Katniss's rage and anger over the attack as she calls for the districts to unite and warns President Snow that fire is catching.

Katniss and Gale ready for battle
Katniss and Gale ready for battle

With the resistance starting to gain support President Snow uses Peeta again to try and quell the uprising using him as an opposite to the resistance's Mockingjay. Katniss notices Peeta is changing and that he even sounds different now. She also insists he is saying all these things to stay alive and that Peeta doesn't know about the destruction of District 12, in fact no one in the Capitol does. Katniss, Gale and the film crew head to District 12 ready for their next film and strike against President Snow. Gale recounts the horrors and how he knew when the forces from the Capitol all left the district he knew what was coming next. Through the efforts of him and some friends from the mines they got as many into the woods for safety as they could. But this did not stop thousands being killed.

While by a creek a mockingjay comes and joins the group as they have something to eat. It sings to them and one of the crew ask Katniss to sing. As she sings a simple song the crew begin filming and use the song as a hymn to their next video to add to the impact of the footage. The footage is shown to all the districts causing more to join the cause. It even causes a group to storm the hydro-electrical dam that powers all of the Capitol with many being simple cannon fodder to allow the bombs to enter the dam. With the dam destroyed the Capitol descends into darkness.

The film crew record Katniss's song
The film crew record Katniss's song

President Snow responds by having Peeta appear in another video in an attempt stop further uprising by pleading to the people of the district to help them avoid extinction. Katniss's video of District 12's destruction plays interrupting Peeta's broadcast and for the first time Peeta sees Katniss survived the Quarter Quell. Peeta warns Katniss that District 13 is to be attack tonight but before he can say to much is knocked unconscious and the transmission ends. President Coin orders for an evacuation drill which turns into a real evacuation as bombers from the capital are sighted on radar heading for them.

Katniss watches Peeta
Katniss watches Peeta

The calm and orderly evacuation is quickly turned into a panic free-for-all to the bomb shelters after they feel the first rumble for the impacts above ground. Katniss finds her mother but her sister Prim is missing. Katniss realises she has gone to save her cat Buttercup. With them just making the shelter in time before the doors are shut, Katniss, Prim and Gale join the other members of District 13 as they wait out the bombing from the Capitol.

District 13 evacuate to the shelters
District 13 evacuate to the shelters

The next day District 13 has survived and begin to emerge from the rubble to the light of day. As Katniss emerges she is overwhelmed by a sea of white roses covering a crater from a bomb. The film crew try to get her to make a statement but she has realised these roses are a message from Snow, he plans to kill Peeta. Unable to make a statement she goes into hiding in District 13. She is discovered by Haymitch who reveals to her that President Coin has seen the blackout as a chance for them to get inside the Capitol and to save Peeta, Johanna and Annie. Katniss insists she wants to go, by the operation has started.

Finnick records with the film crew revealing how Snow came to power and the transmission is sent to the Capitol. With their diminished power and the broadcast going to them they would not detect the plane taking Gale and the rescue team heading to the Capitol. As they enter the Tributes building in the Capitol, power begins to be restored throughout the Capitol. With time running out Katniss transmits to the Capitol in an attempt to get President Snow's attention. Snow takes the bait, but proves quickly that he is not so easily fooled. He reveals he knows about the rescue attempt and makes Katniss fear that all may be lost.

President Coin sits with Katniss and tells her it is the worst type of torment, wanting to do something but being completely unable to do so. Word arrives that the team has returned and Finnick is reunited with his love Annie and Johanna sits up from a bed revealing she has also be saved. Katniss finds Gale who tells her Peeta is safe but unconscious, and she should be there when he wakes. She enters the room and he wakes but instead of a happy reunion he lunges at her in a vicious attack trying to strangle her. He is knocked unconscious just as he is about to squeeze the last breath out of Katniss. Katniss awakens in a bed and is told not to panic and not to speak. She is reassured Peeta is safe, but he has been brainwashed by the Capitol. She goes to see him and finds him restrained on a bed and fighting to escape.

The Characters.

Katniss Everdeen

Katniss is still the headstrong woman we have come to know and love from the first two films. However there is a noticeable change in her in Mockingjay part 1. She now feels the weight of everyone's hopes laying on her shoulders. She feels this for the first time when Effie reveals to her that Cinna had designed her Mockingjay resistance outfit before he was killed by the Capitol. You also see her now conflicted between Gale and Peeta more so than ever. Peeta had been her support for the first two installments, but now Gale has stepped in to take that role. You can see she is now starting to see her childhood friend in a new light to before as he is now turning into a warrior.

Peeta Mellark

We see much less of Peeta in this instalment, mainly due to him being a prisoner of the Capitol. However each time you do see him you can see the life going from his eyes as the film progresses. You also see a slightly emaciated Peeta by the end making it clear just how poorly the Capitol has been treating him. With him absent from Katniss and now brainwashed it is safe to say Mockingjay part 2 will have more than one tear jerking moment as he regains his identity.

Gale Hawthorne

Gale has always been the "friend" whom Katniss finds normality in and goes to when she needs help. However with the destruction of District 12 we see a more aggressive Gale who is ready to fight. Katniss definetly seems to be liking the new Gale but will his thirst for the fight taint him beyond repair? Those of us who have read the books know the answer, but you can not deny he looks good with a crossbow.

President Coriolanus Snow

We have all known that Snow has a sadistic streak given the glimpses from the first two films, but in Mockingjay Snow has stepped up his plans. Clearly showing he will do anything to get inside Katniss's head and to break her not just beat her. However his pride will likely be his downfall. It is not simply a matter of winning for the Capitol but winning for himself. Mockingjay part 2 will surely see new levels of his evil persona as he desperately tries to win the war.

President Alma Coin

It is safe to say Coin is easily as determined as Snow to achieve victory. Compared to Snow she seems like a lovely warm hug ready to embrace you, but looks can be decieving as warm can turn to burning hot quite easily. If Katniss thinks she has a powerful ally in Coin she may want to keep her bow and quiver close to hand. You also see in Mockingjay part 1 that just like Snow her words are not from her, but from the words of others to impress and coerce those listening into believing her.

Effie Trinket

The first thing I had to get used to when it came to Effie was the lack of colour. Considering we have gotten used to seeing Effie like she has been attacked by a box of crayons, in Mockingjay we see a much more simple Effie. Yes she still manages to sneak in the odd accessory but all in all she has never seemed more human as she does in Mockingjay part 1.

Haymitch Abernathy

Are you ready for this? Haymitch is sober in this film! It is interesting to see as you watch you see subtle hints that he is suffering from withdraw, but it has not stop his mind from seeing what others do not. He also has a brilliant moment with Effie in the movie where each states they prefer the other now more than ever.

Finnick Odair

Finnick is much less prominant in this movie, but when you do see him you see a shell of the man we saw in Catching Fire. With his love held captive by the hands of the Capitol, you can clearly see signs of worry in the character. However you do see he has a clear connection with Katniss due to this as both want to free their loved ones from Snow's clutches.

Plutarch Heavensbee

Now this guy is clearly one of the main puppeteers pulling Katniss's strings. He is the driving force behind her being selected as the Mockingjay. The tragic part about it is you can see just like Snow, he will do anything it takes to claim victory against the Capitol. The man is also clearly attracted to power, having ditched President Snow he is now whispering in the ear of President Coin.

Primrose Everdeen

Considering Prim was the one to get Katniss into this whole situation it is impressive to see just how much the character has matured since the first film. She is far much more outspoken in Mockingjay and is still the one who can give Katniss the strength to fight on. She has come a long way from the terrified girl at the call out from the first installment and is now has a promising medical career ahead of her in Mockingjay part 1.

Beetee Latier

Even though Beetee does not appear loads in the film you do discover many important aspects about him in this film. Firstly he is the one who designed the new weapons Katniss and Gale use and he also states he has a triton ready for Finnick when he is ready. You also learn he is the one who designed pretty much the entire Capitol defences and is the only one who may be able to break through the firewalls. Without him on their side the resistance would not have a hope in succeeding.

Ceaser Flickerman

Some things never change. Ceaser is still the mouthpiece of the Capitol spouting the propaganda of Snow to brainwash his viewers. You only see him in this film interviewing Peeta, but what is amazing to see is how he is controlling Peeta throughout every interview. If the Capitol looses Ceaser may be right after President Snow in the execution list.

Differences Between the Novel and the Film

There are a few differences between the book and the film, mainly due to the book being told from Katniss's persepective. So if Katniss does not see it it is never mentioned in the book. So due to this their are some additions from the novel and a few aspects changed.

  • Not in the book: President Snow preparing his speech about the rebels, refusing to call them "rebels" because that would acknowledge them. He decides to call them "radicals" instead.
  • Katniss' chained-up-in-the-dungeon prep team is missing from the film completely, instead replaced by only Effie Trinket who is not a prisoner.
  • Not in the book: President Snow ordering the bombing of the hospital in District 8 after Katniss is sighted there.
  • After Peeta warns on the broadcast that District 13 will be bombed, Peeta is knocked out and the broadcast cuts off almost immediately in the movie, whereas in the book this scene goes on longer, with the camera beeing knocked over and Peeta's blood splattering on the floor.

However all in all, it does stay true to the majority of the book.

Closing Thoughts

With only one film left, Mockingjay part 1 has set us up for an action packed closing film. If you expect to see loads of action in this film you will be very disappointed. The main purpose of this film is to get viewers away from the "Games" and ready for the war instead. You will simply see the pieces being put in place and the players making their move ready for the closing act. However what you do get instead is a focus on characters that have not seen much screen time yet. Gale and Prim both take more prominent roles in the movie and you see a lot of progression from where they started in the first Hunger Games to now in Mockingjay part 1. The film also plays out at a nice pace and I found myself never bored of what was going on. All-in-all it is a good first part to the finale of the franchise and sets us up ready for an action packed final battle between the Districts and Capitol.

Score: 4 stars out of 5.


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