- The very first “Hunger Games” book was released in September 2008, and the first film adaptation was released in March 2012.
- It spawned two more novels, three more films, and a prequel novel that was released in 2020. It also catapulted stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth into a new level of stardom.
- Across the books and films, there are many details, fun facts, and Easter eggs that even the most dedicated fan may not know.
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In 2008, our world was forever changed by the release of Suzanne Collins’ novel, “The Hunger Games.” Now, Katniss’ three-finger salute, the iconic whistle, and the phrase “May the odds be ever in your favour,” are all part of the pop culture lexicon.
Though the last film came out in 2015, “The Hunger Games” is still extremely popular, and new content is still coming. Collins released a prequel novel focusing on the villainous President Snow’s teenage years, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” in 2020, and it’s already set to be adapted into a film.
To celebrate the 12th anniversary of “The Hunger Games” and the release of the newest novel, here are 12 details from the books and films you might have missed.
None of the names chosen by Suzanne Collins were a coincidence. Both “Katniss” and “Everdeen” have significant meanings.
Katniss, the story’s protagonist, is a gifted archer. It serves her well both in the Games and during the rebellion in “Mockingjay.” To honour Katniss’ talent, Collins chose to name her after the arrowhead plant, aka katniss. It has arrow-shaped leaves, and is edible, which comes in handy for a forager like Katniss.
Her last name, Everdeen, also has a double meaning. It’s a nod to a character, Bathsheba Everdene, in “Far From the Madding Crowd.”Collins told Entertainment Weekly that “the two are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts.”
Aside from that struggle, both are fiercely independent and have problems letting other people truly know them. In both “The Hunger Games” and “Far From the Madding Crowd,” Katniss and Bathsheba eventually decide that they love their best friends (Peeta and Gabriel, respectively).
The saga’s main villain, President Coriolanus Snow, also has a significant name. It comes from the Shakespeare play, “Coriolanus.”
In the Shakespeare tragedy, the titular character is a brilliant general who advocates for a totalitarian regime and doesn’t believe that the common people can rule themselves – sound familiar? President Snow, like his namesake, wants absolute power for himself and total control over Panem.
Both are done in by their extremist views, hubris, and their trust in the wrong people.
One of the more obvious name choices is Peeta — as a bread-maker, his name is a different spelling of “pita.”
One of Peeta’s most defining traits to Katniss, before she gets to know him, is that he and his family make bread – and one of the only times she interacted with him before the Hunger Games was when he gave her some burnt bread instead of throwing it away.
Castor and Pollux, twins who were part of Katniss’ film crew in both “Mockingjay” films, get their names from Greek mythology.
According to the myth, Castor and Pollux were the twin brothers of Helen of Troy. According to Ancient History Encyclopaedia, they were “credited with the role of saving those in trouble at sea or in grave danger in war.”
Much like their Greek counterparts, Castor and Pollux followed Katniss (who some might say had a face that launched 1,000 ships) into war, and even to death, in Castor’s case (just like his namesake).
In the saga, Pollux is what’s known as an avox, a criminal who has their tongue cut out leaving them unable to speak. In Latin, “vox” means voice, and the prefix “a” typically means without, which means it literally translates to “without voice.”
In the books and films, the idea of an avox is to show how ruthless the government is about those who speak out against the Capitol, and to silence dissenters in the most barbaric way. The name fittingly conveys that.
The deadly nightlock berries that Katniss and Peeta threaten to eat get their name from two real poisonous plants: deadly nightshade and hemlock.
Both deadly nightshade and hemlock are poisonous – nightshade berries look similar to the nightlock berries of the books and films, whereas hemlock looks like flowers. Both look harmless enough, but could easily kill someone who ingests them.
The country in which all of the events takes place is called Panem, which also has roots in Roman history.
The story takes place in a dystopian future nation called Panem, which is the Latin word for “bread.” It appears in the famous Latin phrase “panem et circenses,” which translates to “bread and circuses.” According to Merriam-Webster, this phrase means “sustenance and entertainment provided by government to appease public discontent.”
It’s fitting that the name of the country, which uses tactics like the Hunger Games to oppress its citizens and keep them in fear, gets its name from a phrase like that.
As the story progresses in each film, and Katniss grows into her role as a leader, the Mockingjay pin changes from a bird facing downwards in “The Hunger Games,” to a bird facing upwards spreading its wings in “Mockingjay.”
In “The Hunger Games,” Katniss is downtrodden and has little hope that things in her life will change – hence the mockingjay that is clearly looking down towards the ground. In “Catching Fire,” as Katniss’ symbol of hope begins to sweep through Panem, the mockingjay turns slightly upward. By “Mockingjay: Part 1,” Katniss has embraced her status as the symbol of the rebellion, and the mockingjay reflects that, with its wings fully spread and ready to fly, and its head facing upwards towards the sky and freedom.
Moving on from names, there are other details in the films you might’ve missed. In one of the first scenes that shows what life in Katniss’ District 12 is like, there’s an homage to a famous Depression-era photo.
The photograph, called”Destitute pea pickers in California, a 32-year-old mother of seven children,” was taken by famed photographer Dorothea Lange, who was working for the Farm Security Administration as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression.
The aesthetic of the first “Hunger Games” film, especially in District 12, took cues from photos like this of the Great Depression in places like Kentucky, rural California, and the Midwest. The woman looking through the window deliberately has her hand in the same position as the mother in the photograph, as if to convey how bleak life is in District 12, like it was for so many during the Depression.
An eagle-eyed Twitter account noted that at a party in the Capitol that Peeta and Katniss attended in “Catching Fire,” Peeta only had three nails painted — the three fingers that are used to perform Katniss’ salute, a sign of rebellion.
Though subtle, it was just a small way for Peeta to simultaneously show love and respect for Katniss, as well as stick it to President Snow and the Capitol right in the heart of the city. It was spotted by the Twitter account @FilmEasterEggs.
Katniss’ mother, Mrs. Everdeen, was played by Paula Malcomson. Malcolmson and Lawrence have played mother and daughter before, in an episode of “Cold Case.”
In the episode, Malcomson played Marlene, the deceased mother of Lawrence’s character, Abby. Marlene’s disappearance was the episode’s titular cold case, as she had disappeared without a trace in 1999 before her body was found at the bottom of a lake in 2007.
The two would reunite four years later for the first “Hunger Games” film in 2012, once more as mother and daughter.
In “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” when Katniss and Peeta are about to face the crowd they enter a tunnel labelled PDL-736, which is a reference to a club in Atlanta the cast and crew used to frequent.
During an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in 2014, Josh Hutcherson (aka Peeta)revealed an Easter egg during a Q&A.
When Peeta and Katniss are about to enter a tunnel and face the crowds of people, the tunnel is clearly labelled “PDL-736.” Director Francis Lawrence added the tunnel number to honour Ponce De Leon 736, the address of an underground hip-hop club in Atlanta that the cast loved.