The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

The Students News Site of Francis Howell High School

FHHS Today

‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ captures attention


The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is an amazing addition to the Hunger Games series. The movie follows the early life of Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth), the main antagonist of the other movies. It explains the history of Panem 64 years before the timeline of the first movies in this series.

When it comes to franchise reboots, it’s usually not a good idea to bring back the same people who did the previous ones, but returning director Francis Lawrence does a great job. The CG elements are helped massively by Uli Hanisch’s production design, which crafts a more relatable world with a stripped-down Hunger Games.

Similarly, returning composer James Newton Howard does another wonderful job. As someone who has read the book, I enjoyed seeing it come to life on screen. Following the storyline of the 2020 Suzanne Collin’s novel, the film serves as a prequel to the other books in the series. The production value, scene locations, and overall ambiance were simply amazing, capturing the essence and aesthetics of the book perfectly. The movie creates an emotional villain origin story behind President Coriolanus Snow. It highlights the internal conflict Snow experiences when he must choose between right and wrong. In the film, Blyth does a phenomenal job of capturing the complexity of Snow, highlighting the character’s charismatic and psychotic qualities. How Blyth was able to bring Snow’s inner monologue from the book to life with his facial expressions and tones was stunning, to say the least.

The opening scene begins with a young Snow alongside his cousin Tigris, showing them as vulnerable children in a time of war known as the Black Days. It then jumps a few years ahead to the characters as teenagers in the Capital. At this time, the war introduced in the opening scene has ended and the people of the Capital have won. By now, the Hunger Games have been established and are going into their 10th year.  In the movie, the students of the Capital, including Snow, are assigned to mentor a player in the Hunger Games. This introduces the audience to Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler). 

Zegler’s luminous presence radiates through the screen as the character Lucy Gray Baird. Baird is a tribute from District Twelve who is given Snow as her mentor for the games. It is quickly revealed that Baird and Snow are falling in love. Their love story is as intense as it is brief and as hopeful as it is revealing in terms of what human beings become when civilization disappears. 

The story highlights the desperation that makes people abandon all morals to ensure their success, even after the games are over. These ideas are brilliantly executed through the divide created amongst the characters. The character development in the film was unmatched. Viola Davis gives such an animated performance in her role as Dr. Volumnia Gaul in a way only an actor of her caliber could pull off, and Josh Andrés Rivera is the moral center and real tragedy of the film, with his character Sejanus Plinth being too pure for the world he’s born into. The contrast between these two roles develops the divide between the people of Panem. These characters’ connection to Snow further shows the internal struggle between right and wrong.

This movie has one of the best soundtracks of any movie I’ve heard. Zegler is the main voice of the soundtrack throughout the film and did not disappoint in the least. Not a single song on this soundtrack goes unnoticed. Each song tied a deeper emotional meaning to the story. The song “The Ballad of Lucy Gray” is by far the best song on the soundtrack, but other songs such as “Nothing You Can Take From Me” and the nostalgic “The Hanging Tree” serve as a close second.”The Hanging Tree” which Katniss Everdeen sang in the original movie, was a highlight, linking this prequel to the original films. While Zegler is the highlight of this soundtrack, the use of other songs such as Olivia Rodrigo’s “Can’t Catch Me Now” is a great addition to the film.

This prequel exceeded my expectations, which were low considering this is a film set 64 years before the original movies and featuring no cameos from the cast of the other films. However, the unique mix of tragic love, internal conflict, and brutal violence all within a villain origin story were executed terrifically. Each actor and actress chosen for the cast did an amazing job capturing the essence of each of the roles. The soundtrack added to the depth and emotional chaos of the film as a whole. Overall, this prequel created the perfect villain origin story for President Snow and the history of Panem. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the best-executed movie of this series and by far my favorite.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Evelyn Jungers
Evelyn Jungers, Staff Writer/Photographer

Comments (0)

All FHHS Today Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *