“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” trailer drops in the midst of The Hunger Games renaissance


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Editor-in-Chief Laken Kincaid writes about the latest installment of the Hunger Games film franchise.

Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief

Around the beginning of March, the 2012 hit “The Hunger Games” faced a large-scale revival on multiple social media platforms, including Twitter and TikTok. Over one million pieces of content were made under #HungerGames over the span of a few weeks, with creators and consumers alike rising to revisit their nostalgic flights of fancy from their tween and teenage years. From various fan theories stemming from the original plot to quirky new takes on the dystopian plot, the resurgence helped perpetuate further excitement from Lionsgate’s new addition to the saga, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” which hits theaters this November.

The movie is based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Collins which was published in May 2020. It is a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy and takes place 64 years before the events of the first book. The novel follows a young Coriolanus Snow, who would later become the tyrannical president of Panem. The book explores Snow’s early life and the events that shaped his personality, as well as the early days of the Hunger Games and the Capitol’s efforts to establish the Games as a national spectacle. It also introduces new characters, such as the tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, and explores the relationship between the Capitol and the districts in greater detail.

As the story begins, Snow is a senior student at the Capitol’s Academy, a prestigious school for the children of the city’s elite. He is chosen to be a mentor for the 10th annual Hunger Games and he is assigned to mentor Baird, a tribute who possesses a unique talent for singing. Over the course of the novel, Snow forms a bond with Baird and begins to question the morality of the Hunger Games and the Capitol’s treatment of the districts. Meanwhile, he also faces other challenges, such as the disapproval of his fellow mentors and the expectations of his family. Additionally, he becomes embroiled in a plot to manipulate the outcome of the Hunger Games in order to benefit his own interests.

As the story progresses, Snow is forced to confront the harsh realities of life in the districts, as well as the corrupt nature of the Capitol. The novel ultimately ends with the conclusion of the 10th Hunger Games and the events that set Snow on the path to becoming the ruthless dictator he is in The Hunger Games trilogy.

The official trailer for the film dropped on YouTube on April 29, reigniting the excitement housed on social media from the previous month. The movie sports an all-star cast with many familiar faces spotted in the preview, including Rachel Zegler, the overnight musical sensation who made her cinematic debut in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 remake of “West Side Story.” As Baird, Zegler beautifully mimics Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Katniss Everdeen from the original movies, placing callbacks to the character’s fire and wit like her bows that juxtapose disapproval and disgust. Baird has a certain burning passion that forces the audience to reminisce on the revolution they watched eight years prior in theaters.

Other celebrities on the cast list include Peter Dinklage (portraying the man who put the tradition of the games in motion, Dean Casca Highbottom), Hunter Schafer (portraying a young Tigris, who the audience met in “Mockingjay: Part 2”) and renowned EGOT recipient Viola Davis (portraying Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the main antagonist of the movie). 

Visually, the movie presents a colder color palette and effects that seem to perfectly fit within The Hunger Games universe. However, there are surges of warmth particularly in scenes where Snow and Baird are with one another, potentially hinting at the larger impact camera filters may have on this film’s storytelling. As far as the trailer goes, it does not seem like this prequel will feel out of place or out of touch with its series.

Although there was excitement that preceded the release of this trailer, there have been some mixed reviews. One argument made is that this new addition to the series, while still a functional prequel, serves too much like a social commentary on today’s world, specifically America. 

As the 10th games marks the first time the event treats its participants as, through the words of Highbottom, “spectacles not survivors,” some believe that this is reflective of the congressional response to various injustices across the country like mass shootings and abortion rights. This is also highlighted through Gaul’s sentiment of seeing “how quickly civilization disappears.”

Despite these low levels of controversy, the movie is being highly anticipated. Students like CJ Fovozzo ‘23 are on the edge of their seats for the release.

“I am excited to see it,” Fovozzo elaborated. “It seems really cool and I like ‘The Hunger Games’ to begin with.”

For many college students, the film functions as a callback to their lives a decade ago which could be for better or for worse, depending on the movie’s reception come the end of the year. You can watch “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” in theaters on November 17, 2023.