And therein lies the problem that Gary Ross and company have set themselves up for in Catching Fire. So much of Suzanne Collins’ twisty second book relies on what Katniss doesn’t know.
[Here there be SPOILERS. For the entire series. You have been warned.]
I disagree. The first film did well to take the narrative from Katniss’ hands and show us the wider world of the districts, but delving into third person omniscient doesn’t necessarily translate to a viewer having to see and know all. As noted, the conclusion to Catching Fire rested very heavily with the behind-the-scenes machinations of the previous victors and District 13, and the reader only became aware of them in the very final chapters.
If third person omniscient meant that the viewer had to be made aware of every plot point, this would in fact be problematic. The sense of danger among ones’ own allies, the battle to save Peeta, and Katniss’ resignation to her own death - they would lose all importance. The emotional drama - and many of the plot points - would falter.
However, this is not at all the case. District 13 doesn’t need to be any more illuminated in Catching Fire than the screenwriters see fit- as illustrated by the fact that it was alive and scheming during the events of The Hunger Games, but Katniss (and the viewers) remain unaware. We’ll learn of the nature of the other districts alongside Katniss as well - although District 11’s terrible conditions and absolute subjugation is crucial to the plot, is crucial to the development of Rue, there’s no hint of it in the first movie. In fact, it’s even played down significantly in the scene where Katniss and Rue share their dinner.
I would even go so far as to say that allowing the audience window to peek, however briefly, at what is going on outside the arena would improve on Collins’ book. Up until Katniss and the others were rescued, every decision, every sacrifice, the entirety of the reader’s investment rested on Peeta (and hopefully Katniss) surviving the Games by playing them. There was no hint of any other goings-on, nothing for the reader to even begin to retroactively put together. When the victors woke up in 13, the grand majority of the book having been spent developing a struggle that was rendered meaningless, Katniss’ survival ensured not by development of her character but by forces out of her control: very deus ex machina, and it cheapened all that came before it.
In contrast, the film will (hopefully) give the audience glimpses of the conspiracy, of Plutarch Heavensbee speaking with Haymitch in low tones, of Cinna telling his staff somewhat mysteriously “That things are going to change, very soon,” of Finnick and Johanna’s mentors exchanging strange glances as the Games move on. Maybe even poor Gale can get some screentime. He’s far too underdeveloped in the first two books to be taken seriously as the subject of Katniss’ turmoil.
Excellent. All great points.