There's nothing scarier for a fan than to see their favorite book made into a movie. No matter how hard everyone works, often the film can never compare to the words on the page. But Mockingjay Part 1 stuck very closely to the beloved YA book, and Hunger Games fans can breathe a sigh of relief. But as to be expected, there were a few things that didn't quite make sense in the jump from book to movie—and they would be especially confusing to those who hadn't picked up the novel prior to seeing the film.
I know, I know, if you don't read the book you can't necessarily complain that you didn't understand the movie, but face it: not everyone is going to read them first. Also, it's the director's job to make sure the movie can stand alone. I saw Mockingjay Part 1 with my cousins this weekend and realized just how much was confusing to them because they hadn't studied ahead of time.
In the interest of helping them, and anyone else who was confused, here are seven important things that would have made way more sense in Mockingjay if you'd read the book. (Or if they'd been explained better in the film).
THE FIRST ROSE KATNISS FINDS
The rose Katniss finds in her house is a big deal because it's from President Snow. In the book, Suzanne Collins writes, "That white-as-snow rose is a personal message to me. It speaks of unfinished business. It whispers, I can find you. I can reach you. Perhaps I am watching you now." But in the movie the audience isn't directly told that Snow was responsible for the rose at all, and its chilling significance is lost.
THE ROSES DROPPED ON DISTRICT 13
It's the dozens of blooms that Katniss finds after the bombing that make her realize the Capitol is going to kill Peeta. But in the movie that connection is unclear. In the book the roses dropped weren't white, but pink and red. The same color as those presented to Katniss and Peeta after their Hunger Games victory. "Flowers not meant for one, but for a pair of lovers," Katniss says in the book. That's why she makes the leap to Peeta's imminent danger — but this isn't clear in the movie.
WHY JOHANNA IS BALD AND ANNIE IS NOT
Another confusing scene is how messed up Johanna and Peeta are compared to Annie. The most likely reason for this is that she wasn't tortured. As Finnick says in the book, "They didn't arrest her because they thought she'd be a wealth of rebel information. They know I'd never have risked telling her anything like that. For her own protection." So rather than the Capitol torturing her for intel like they did to Peeta and Johanna, they likely just locked her up to mess with Finnick. That's why she's in a much better state than the other two tributes, and why she got to keep her hair while Johanna's was shaved down as part of her electroshock torture.
To fans of the novel, watching Katniss play with the pearl is a sign that Katniss loves and misses Peeta, because he gave it to her in Catching Fire. Those who didn't read the book are left confused as to the symbolism of the object.
PEETA'S DISORIENTED STATE
The movie doesn't do a great job showing Peeta's confusion at seeing Katniss during one propo. (Or even explaining how it is Peeta was able to see Katniss. In the book you learn it was on a monitor.) In the film he jumps from reciting Capitol lines to warning Katniss and then just a few scenes later hates Katniss so much he wants to kill her. It's possible they ramped his torture up significantly after he warned her, but in the book his conflicting feelings about Katniss were visible all the way back then, which made the gradual shift to full hatred make more sense. In the book he has to consciously force himself to warn her; it's not an easy task because his feelings about her are already muddled.
WHY THE CAPITOL LEFT 13 ALONE
This isn't addressed in the movie at all and is a pretty big hole in the plot. In the book it makes more sense because we learn 13 was the nuclear district and the Capitol was forced to leave them alone lest they be bombed with nuclear weapons.
THE EXTENT OF THE VICTORS' SLAVERY
The movie does address that Finnick was sold as a prostitute after he won his Games, and he had to cooperate or someone he loved would be killed. But the book delves much deeper into this horrific treatment explaining that it happened to all of the desirable victors. But even the ones not sold off weren't left alone. Step out of line at all and your family would be killed. That happened to Haymitch after he won his Games by exploiting a flaw in the arena's forcefield. By the time he got home, his family and girlfriend were killed. "I was the example. The person to hold up to the young Finnicks and Johannas and Cashmeres," Haymitch explains in the novel. "Of what could happen to a victor who caused problems."
I do appreciate how closely director Francis Lawrence stuck to the book, but I think there were a few parts that could have used more explanation for those who hadn't read the novels. But I really recommend that everyone read the books because they're amazing, and you won't be left hanging for a year to find out what happens in Mockingjay Part 2 .