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“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” slithers its way into hearts

Rachel+Zegler+and+Tom+Blyth+star+as+Coriolanus+Snow+and+Lucy+Gray+Baird.+%28Photo+by+Murray+Close+via+Lionsgate%29
Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth star as Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird. (Photo by Murray Close via Lionsgate)

 

 

“The Ballad of a Songbird’s and Snakes”, without a doubt, proved that there is still a big appetite for “The Hunger Games” franchise. The film is an interesting and disturbing story of power and what people are willing to do to obtain it. The movie combines elements of “The Hunger Games” and “Mockingjay: Part 1”

The prequel was released into theaters almost eight years after the original series, on Friday, November 20. The film is essentially a villain-origin story for President Snow, a familiar character to fans of the original series and it was definitely needed, as it provided an in-depth look into a character who was left somewhat unexplored in the original series. 

Starring Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler, “The Ballad of a Songbird’s and Snakes” journeys to Panem 64 years before Katniss volunteered as tribute. The film instead follows a young Snow, who comes from an underprivileged background, as he is tasked with mentoring a tribute from district 12, Lucy Gray Baird. The two different characters find themselves shifting their luck and turning the odds in their favor, as the capital (and Snow himself) begin become captivated by Lucy Gray, and her ballads. 

The relationship between Lucy Gray, and Snow led audiences to ask: did the two ever really love each other? (Photo by Murray Close via Lionsgate)

The cast is composed of several stars, old and new, most notably Academy Award winning actress Viola Davis and rising star Rachel Zegler. However it is Tom Blyth (Coriolanus Snow) who stands out as the film’s breakout star. While the book provides insight into Snow’s internal monologue, the film fails to do so, therefore it is up to Blyth to provide the audience with visuals, and mannerisms that provide a more in-depth look into the unpredictable.

Unlike the original series, the film makes an executive decision to cast more tributes with physical disabilities that viewers can see, such as Wovey (Sofia Sanchez), who was a scene stealer, and Bobbin, the boy with one arm, The point of this movie, in comparison to other “Hunger Games” films is that viewers are supposed to care and sympathize with these tributes much more, which is why the film takes time to get to know them. In “The Hunger Games”, the audience did not even know some of the tribute’s names: Katniss would simply refer to them as “The Boy from 8” “The Girl from 7”. But in this film, viewers see the tributes get off the train, see them strategize, even see them suffer in the human zoo. The horror of the games is much more elevated when a tribute with a physical disability emerges because we live in a world where we naturally think there should be exceptions – these kids are already disadvantaged enough. But no there are no exceptions to the Capital’s rule, and this choice really exemplifies that.

The costuming in the movie was obviously very thought out for each character; it provides a sense of individuality that is lost in years following the 10th annual Hunger Games, as Katniss has her “Sunday’s best” on when she is reaped. It is perceived that previous tributes, those featured in the prequel, wear whatever clothes they are reaped in, and for most districts, that means dull, baggy, dingy outfits which can be viewed as a bold attempt to get citizens of Panem to recognize these children’s humanity.

Dill, a tribute from district 11, has flowers embroidered  on her sleeves to represent her innocence, and Wovey from district 8, has hearts all over her pants.  

The film is called “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, so there is no surprise that music is a large part of the film’s essence. The film had great songs from well-known artists such as Olivia Rodrigo’s (“Can’t Catch Me Now”), but Rachel Zegler’s voice really captivated and resonated with audiences. Zegler sings  a total of eight songs on the soundtrack. It is not unusual for actors to lip sync while performing in movies, but Zegler took a different approach, and sang every song live on set.

“It was kind of my choice to sing live on set. I had done it before on my first film and I feel really confident in that sphere of performance, in general,” Zegler said in a press conference for the film.

This choice was extremely impressive, and really ensured that audiences would feel immersed throughout the entirety of the film’s duration.

“I’ve never ever seen somebody do it – every take, live,” Producer Nina Jacobson said.

Overall, this film is a great addition to a previously well established franchise, but “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a great stand alone film that provides an in-depth look into all aspects of “The Hunger Games”. 

 

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About the Contributor
Karidja Monjolo, Managing Editor
Karidja Monjolo is a senior, and this is her third year on the Wildcat Chronicle. She participates in WeGo Drama, and is an active member of the French Honor Society. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and sewing. Karidja is still unsure about what she would like to do in the future, but knows she would like to pursue a career in writing. 
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  • Pamela CruzNov 29, 2023 at 2:14 pm

    this made me really want to watch the movie, I’m glad you didn’t include ANY spoilers :)))

  • Leslie FiremanNov 29, 2023 at 1:14 pm

    Dinah, are you kidding? I do not sympathize with Snow at all! He doesn’t really love Lucy – he just thinks he does. She is a project to him. A pet to be contained. And good for her for getting out of his clutches – she made her move not a moment too soon.

  • DinahNov 29, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    This is a great article Karidja! Although, I would’ve given this movie a five star rating. Francis Lawrence delivers all the high points fans would have expected with a twisting theme of betrayal. The movie did a great job with the character adaptation of Snow and dives into the complexity of his character with little to no inner dialogue. Watching all four movies in the trilogies without reading the books we would’ve never questioned the motives of Snow, but instead be drawn to Katniss. Having this newly found information on Snow we begin to sympathize with his character.His love was so strong for Lucy and he was willing to do anything to keep her alive despite barely knowing her. This movie had small elements of all four of the movies and it was done well. Again, this is a really great article and I can’t wait to read more of your creations in the future.