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The Student News Site of Berkley High School

THE SPECTATOR

The Student News Site of Berkley High School

THE SPECTATOR

Review: The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes

*This article contains spoilers*
As any Hunger Games fan knows, a new movie in the trilogy has just come out on Nov. 16. It is called The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes and is directed by Francis Lawrence. Fans have waited many years for this book to be adapted into a movie, and now it is here. The acting, cinematography, singing, and costumes are amazing, but aspects of the plot in this movie could be improved. I am so excited to dive deeper into this movie and break down all of its components.

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Coriolanus Snow is a student at the Academy in Panem who becomes a mentor of the 10th annual Hunger Games in order to make the games more entertaining and win the Plinth prize. If you are unfamiliar with the story, you may think he is going to be portrayed as the good guy and protagonist of the movie since he is the main character. But this is simply not the case. In the beginning, we see how he is being thoughtful towards his Hunger Games tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, giving her food and building a connection. This leads the audience to believe he thinks the Hunger Games are morally wrong. But then he starts coming up with ideas of how to make the Hunger Games last longer and keep going when others are trying to get the Hunger Games to end. He has so many opportunities to try and change things within Panem’s society, but instead makes decisions that benefit him. For example, when he is forced to go into the Hunger Games arena to get his friend, Sejanus Plinth, out, he kills one of the tributes. You would expect him to feel terrible and guilty but instead he tells his cousin Tigris that he felt powerful. Who would say that after killing someone? This reveals his evil and corrupt mindset. He is power-hungry and selfish throughout the whole movie. He lies to the people who care about him the most, resulting in punishment, abandonment, and even death. He builds Lucy Gray’s trust in him and keeps telling her that he cares about her, when in reality he wants her to stay alive so he can get money and power. Overall, the movie does a good job at showing all of the flaws within society and how Snow is joining the problem and even amplifying it which builds his character and sets the scene for future movies.
Standing alone, the movie was really well done, but as a prequel, the end of the movie did not give enough context and reason for his villain arc. The events that took place seemed not convincing enough for Snow to become evil and power-hungry. In the end, when Coriolanus and Lucy Gray run away together, he realizes that Lucy Gray is his only contact left, and she could expose his crimes and get him in trouble. She leaves the cabin as he is finding the gun that he killed a girl with and she goes missing in the woods. Then all of a sudden, he turns evil and tries to kill Lucy Gray. Then he gets sent back to the capitol and realizes he is the future of the country and of the Hunger Games. This sudden change of mindset seems like it came out of nowhere because a few minutes previously he wanted to run away with Lucy Gray and leave the country behind. It causes the viewer to be confused on why he would do this and how this one event causes Snow to become the villain in the future movies. Overall, it was a phenomenal movie but it did not act as a sufficient prequel. If I had not known that Snow was going to end up being a villain, I would be confused on why his actions were evil and I would have thought his actions were justified.
In the movie, we also see so many connections to the other movies in the trilogy. For example, Luc Gray mentions a plant that they eat in District 12 called Katniss, the name of the main character in the other four movies. We also see Tigris later in the Mockingjay Part 2 where she is a rebel against the government and is no longer in contact with Snow since she “was no longer needed” by him. “The Hanging Tree”, which was sung by Katniss Everdeen, was also created by Lucy Gray, who is a popular singer/songwriter in District 12. A noticeable detail about this song is that the way Lucy Gray sings it is significantly different from the way Katniss sings it. This is because Lucy Gray is singing it to perform and in honor of all of the people she watches being hanged whereas Katniss sings it as a sign of rebellion. There are also some lyric differences, showing how it changes over the course of generations.
Rachel Zegler, the actress who plays Lucy Gray, is an amazing actress and singer. She sings several times throughout the movie and every time, it is moving and emotional. The songs she sings also seem like Lucy Gray wrote the songs because she plays the part so well. One of the songs she sings titled “Can’t Catch Me Now” was actually written by Olivia Rodrigo. This song is fantastic and will be added to my playlist. Tom Blynth who plays Snow was also amazing in the movie. He has been in several other films, but this movie takes the cake with him as the lead. All the other actors in this movie were so good as well. They put me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole movie as well as making me feel connected to the characters and have empathy for them.

The costume designs in the film were also a noticeable aspect. Starting with Lucy Gray’s colorful dress. When they show the reaping in District 12, everyone is in gray whereas Lucy Gray is dressed in a colorful dress with a floral corset. Her top has snakes on it, symbolizing the connection with them as well as a reference to the title. It also has Katniss and Primroses on it in reference to future movies. Besides that dress, all the other costumes including the school uniform, Volumnia Gaul’s red dress, and Tigris’s pink outfit she wore during the Hunger Games are intricate and impressive.

Lastly, the cinematics, camera angles, set designs, and CGI were all impressive and moving. For example, the camera angle on Snow moves lower, showing his head held high, to demonstrate the power he craves and gets. Also, the close proximity of Coriolanus and Lucy Gray when she is in the cage with the other tributes and tries to kiss him, shows their strong connection. The set of the arena and underground tunnels illustrate fear and anxiousness, especially after the bombing.

Overall, although the ending was not as good as it could have been, all the aspects of this movie make it entertaining to watch which makes it a must-watch movie.

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About the Contributor
Lucy Cohen, Managing Editor
Hi! I’m Lucy Cohen, one of the Spectator’s managing editors along with Violet Karp. I love being a part of the staff because of the creative articles and pages we get to make as well as the community we have built. I write about all sorts of things but I especially like writing about random things that I believe the public absolutely needs to be informed about. This is my third year on staff and I’m so excited for this year’s issues! TTYL:)  

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