Hanna, an Amazon Prime series that drops in its entirety on March 29, demonstrates a wonderful truth about the mediums of film and TV: A story can't ever be created the same way twice.
When filtered through a different creator's vision and different actors' choices, a script can take on a new shape entirely. Take the 2019 Hanna, an eight-part series starring Esme Cree-Miles, and the 2011 Hanna, the acclaimed fairy tale-meets-thriller starring Saoirse Ronan, as the perfect example. Though both the show and movie tell nearly the same story of a girl assassin written by David Farr, their interpretations are completely different — starting from the opening scene on.
How does Hanna the show deviate from Hanna the movie?
The works' opening sequences tell us everything we need to know about their major differences. The 2011 movie opens with a typical scene in 16-year-old Hanna Heller's (Ronan) highly unusual life. As she's skinning a deer in a bleak tundra of Finland, her father, Erik (Eric Bana), launches a sneak attack on her, initiating an intense martial arts fight. "You're dead," he declares. Clearly, he's training her for something — and she just failed his surprise test. When she returns to their log cabin, she apologizes in fluent Italian.
Who is this teenager — primed for battle, fluent in multiple languages, and a perfect target shot? She's Hanna, and she has one goal: Track down and kill the ruthless CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett). Her father, an ex-CIA agent, has made this her life's mission.
The film, directed by Joe Wright of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, unspools Hanna's story as if it's a dark, blood-soaked fairy tale. Fittingly, Hanna and her father read Grimm's fairy tales before bed. Like the children in these classic stories, Hanna is quickly separated from a parental figure and forced to exit her state of childlike innocence (even though she's a trained killer, she's completely unfamiliar with the workings of the world). There's enough symbolism in each scene to write a Hanna dissertation.
But the Amazon Prime series takes a markedly different approach to Hanna's story. This isn't a motif-infused fairy tale — it's an action thriller. So, instead of plunging us into Hanna's life and having the viewer gradually piece together the facts, we begin with grimly lit backstory. The glaring question of How the heck did Hanna get into this situation? is answered from the start.
A brawny Erik, this time played by Joel Kinnaman, steals an infant Hanna from a nursery. He and his wife, Joanna (Joanna Kulig), drive through the wilds of Poland in a beat-up Audi with Marissa (Mireille Enos) and the CIA hot on their trail. Helicopter gunfire causes the car to crash, killing Joanna. Erik and the baby manage to escape into the woods, where he sets up a threadbare home in a cave (as opposed to the log cabin in the movie, complete with encyclopedias).
Are there any other plot changes?
The opening scenes reveal the works' different storytelling approaches, but hold steady to the same plot. In both scenarios, Erik and Hanna are on their own in an isolated wilderness; in both scenarios, Hanna is being trained to kill Marissa Wiegler. Erik blames Marissa for Joanna's death — and in the film, the blame is more concrete: Marissa shot Joanna point-blank.
The most significant story change comes in how Hanna leaves Finland (in the movie) or Poland (in the show). In the film, Erik always intended for Hanna to leave their weird domestic bliss and meet Marissa – after all, that's what he's prepared her for. When Hanna is 16, Erik lays out a transponder that will signal their location to Marissa. "If you think you're ready and want to leave here, all you have to is flip that switch," he says. Eventually, Hanna presses the red button, signaling the end of her childhood. She's caught by the CIA and taken to a facility in Morocco, with the intention of eventually meeting up with her father in Berlin. And so our story begins.
In the Amazon Prime show, Hanna's literal exile from the cave is far more haphazard — she's caught accidentally. In a fit of teenage rebellion, Hanna crosses the strict perimeter that her father has set around their home. She meets a young Polish logger, Arvo (Aleksandr Gorchilin), who is shocked to meet a young woman who's never had a Snickers. After Hanna and Arvo are caught sneaking into a cell phone tower by security, Hanna and her father must flee their hideaway. The plan is to separate and meet in Germany, but Hanna is captured and brought to the Camp G facility Morocco.
Essentially, Erik never intended for his daughter to leave their hideaway — or to grow up. Hanna's exile is more drastic. Thrust into a dangerous situation, she must see whether her years of skills actually hold up. In the movie, Erik already believes in his daughter's abilities. He gives her the choice.
How can I see Hanna for myself?
The movie Hanna is streaming on YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play; the show Hanna will drop in its entirety on Amazon Prime on Friday, March 29. Running eight episodes in total, the show is will iron out more of the details surrounding Hanna's identity and upbringing — namely, how did she come to be such a warlord?
According to writer David Farr, the show is truer to his original conception of Hanna than Wright's film. "I had a very clear political conspiracy that was sitting underneath it, around Hanna's true identity. I think on TV you can explore, obviously, a much more in-depth character," Farr told Digital Spy. Sacrificing nitty gritty plot details for artistry, Wright's story skipped over some of the more detailed aspects of Farr's script. The show will delve into the CIA conspiracy.
While the first three episodes of the Hanna follow the movie's plot, the last five introduce wholly original twists. Clearly, we've only grazed the differences between the versions of Hanna. Watch and keep track for yourself. There's more than a single article's worth.