Originally published in Register Forum Newspaper, December 2023 Edition
The long awaited film adaptation of Suzanne Collins' Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, has finally been released in theaters everywhere. The grit and passion of The Hunger Games is kept alive as Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) mentors Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) in the tenth annual Hunger Games. While Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place sixty-four years before Katniss Everdeen takes the stage, the movie follows the same Snow who grows up to be the tyrannical president of Panem that we know as President Snow.
Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes gives an in depth backstory to who Coriolanus was before he became the villain we all know him as. Raised with his cousin, Tigris (Hunter Schafer) and grandmother, he's relatively poor compared to others in The Capital. After the war, his family lost nearly everything- their riches, their father- and he aims to win the Plinth Prize, a scholarship, so that he may attend college. However this year, the stakes are set differently, instead of the winner of the Plinth Prize being whoever has the best grades as in the past, the winner will be determined by who has the best performance as mentors for the Hunger Games. Each of the candidates is assigned a tribute, and Coriolanus receives the girl from district twelve. He watches as she puts on a show at the reaping, her singing earning her the title of "the songbird."In the end, the lovely songbird wins the Hunger Games, and graces all of Panem with her song "The Old There before."
My favorite character in the movie has to be Sejanus Plinth. Plinth is a kind and smart boy from District Two, who moved to the capital after his father made it big through selling weapons and artillery during the war. Sejanus ends up mentoring one of his classmates from District Two, Marcus, however Marcus tries to run away and ends up getting brutally beaten and is therefore unable to participate in the Hunger Games. He ends up getting sent to District Twelve where he works as a peace keeper, until Coriolanus double crosses him and the poor boy meets an early demise.
I find this movie quite touching, as it gives a backstory to the rather horrible President Snow, and gives insight as to why he might act the way he does in the later films. One thing that I love is that Snow's romantic interest, Lucy Gray, writes the song "Hanging Tree." For people that have already seen the original Hunger Games movies, you'll know that Katniss Everdeen leads the revolution whilst singing that same song. It's a beautiful detail that Collins added. Imagine the pain one must feel being reminded of their first love nearly sixty-five years later, something that Snow goes through in the films.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has been nominated for four awards, and has already won another four. I would not be surprised if this film goes on to win an Oscar. I give this movie five falcons. A must-see for any Hunger Games fan, and highly recommended for dystopian lovers everywhere.