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The Student News Site of Cass High School

The Trumpet

The Student News Site of Cass High School

The Trumpet

The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes: The Newest Film in The Hunger Games Franchise

(image via wallpapersden.com)
(image via wallpapersden.com)

The Hunger Games franchise is easily one of the most popular dystopian book series ever. Since the first book in the series was released in 2008, it has taken the world by storm as a best-selling novel and blockbuster film. The prequel to the infamous trilogy, The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes, released in 2020, was published years after the original three books. It was highly anticipated by many fans and introduced the world to a brand-new perspective on the iconic story. The prequel follows the early life of President Coriolanus Snow, the main antagonist of the earlier books, before he becomes the leader of Panem, the fictional world where all The Hunger Games books take place. The book focuses on the character’s complex and questionable morals and how The Hunger Games came to be, along with nods to the other installments in the series.

Recently, the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has garnered a movie adaptation, released about a month ago on November 17th. The film stars Tom Blyth as young President Snow and actress Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray (Snow’s romantic interest), along with Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, and Josh Andrés Rivera. All of these actors and actresses have received very positive feedback from audiences and critics alike. “Zegler plays Lucy Gray with a mischievous gleam and defiant stance, instantly making her as formidable as Katniss, and almost as iconic,” says Rachel LaBonte, with Screen Rant. Many critics also praise Tom Blyth, who plays President Snow. Cass High School sophomore, Anniston Shultz, said, “I really loved the way they translated Snow’s character from book to screen because when you’re reading the book, you learn a lot about his internal struggles and the way he presents himself to other characters. The way [Tom Blyth] portrayed that was done very well.”

Rachel Zegler (left) and Tom Blyth (right) star as Lucy Gray and future president Snow in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. -Image via official film promotion

 

The film itself has received mixed reviews. While fans have responded relatively well to the film, critics have been slightly harsher to it, saying it lacks some of the book’s major points and drags at times. Again, LaBonte writes: “The movie loses some of its steam when it hits part three, which is unfortunate because it should hold some of the most emotional beats of the entire story.” However, other critics have praised the film. “Francis Lawrence — who now returns to helm a prequel that impressively expands the canon while honoring its key themes.” Writes Peter Dubridge with Variety.

In the book iteration of the prequel, the character of Lucy Gray breaks out into song in multiple chapters. It’s no different in the movie, where Zegler herself is the one to belt out a tune with a twangy Southern accent. These numbers are very popular with fans, who have taken over the internet with media about the songs, featuring themselves in them and even creating covers of the film’s soundtrack themselves. When asked her opinion on them, Shultz said, “It’s definitely better than just reading the lyrics like it is in the book. I personally really liked them. I know that’s sort of a point of contention, but I didn’t have a problem with them.” This point of contention comes from the fact that many people who have seen the film, have not read the novel and are not expecting a musical out of The Hunger Games, and therefore are off-put by the spontaneous singing.

Only a month after its release, the film has already made over $200 million worldwide, according to Variety. Although it has its criticisms, it is now part of an incredibly influential series. It will certainly continue to motivate and encourage readers all around the world for many years to come. Suzanne Collins, the author of the series, said, “I’m so grateful for the readers and viewers who invested in The Hunger Games. These stories are made to be shared.”

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