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‘Hunger Games’ primer: Everything you need to know

Jennifer Lawrence stars as sharpshooting heroine Katniss Everdeen 'The Hunger Games.'

Jennifer Lawrence stars as sharpshooting heroine Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games."

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Updated: April 19, 2012 8:07AM

Haven’t gotten around to reading the book? Or just don’t care to? We’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know before seeing “The Hunger Games” movie:

The setting

A post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem (in the former North America), which is divided into 12 districts that are ruled by the Capitol, a creepy fortress city where the wealthy and powerful (and largely cruel) people live. (Many fashion-obsessed Capitol people dye their skin bright shades such as blue or pink.) The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one girl and one boy (ages 12 to 18) from each district are chosen by a lottery to be warriors — or “tributes” — and compete in a televised battle where there can be only one survivor. Yes, that means they fight to the death. Disturbing, we know.

The girl

Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old from District 12 who lives in an area called the Seam, the poorest part. She’s an ace with a bow and arrow and illegally hunts game in the surrounding forests to help feed her depressed mother and 12-year-old sister, Prim. Her father died in a mine explosion. She steps up to replace her sister, who was selected to be a tribute in the 74th Hunger Games.

The others

Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson): The baker’s son from District 12 who once tossed a young Katniss a piece of bread, which saved her family from starvation. They hadn’t spoken again until his name is called to be the other tribute for the Hunger Games.

Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth): Katniss’ friend and hunting partner, a strong silent type who may be hiding feelings for Katniss. Do you smell a love triangle?

Haymatich Abernathy (Woody Harrelson): The town drunk. He was a tribute for District 12 in the 50th Hunger Games and came out the sole survivor, which apparently drives him to drink.

Effie Trinket
(Elizabeth Banks):
A member of the Capitol who wrangles the tributes and escorts them to the Games. She, like most Capitol people, doesn’t realize how cruel the Games are.

Cinna (Lenny Kravitz): One of the only redeeming folks from the Capitol. Cinna is Katniss’ stylist for the Games.

President Snow
(Donald Sutherland):
The most evil of them all. He is the dictator of Panem.

Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci): The journalist who interviews all the tributes before they compete.

Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley): The Head Gamemaker of the 74th Hunger Games. He is the announcer during the televised fight to the death.

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