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Singing Songbirds And Silent Snakes: The new Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is a must see

The+Ballad+of+Songbirds+and+Snakes+showcased+actress+Rachel+Zelgers+capturing+vocal+ability+with+live+singing+in+the+film.+The+film+also+stayed+No.1+at+the+box+office+over+Black+Friday+weekend
Courtesy of Lionsgate
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes showcased actress Rachel Zelger’s capturing vocal ability with live singing in the film. The film also stayed No.1 at the box office over Black Friday weekend

The “Hunger Games” saga and novels are some of the best dystopian storytelling with chillingly realistic modern-day comparisons, insanely relatable characters and non-stop action. Going into a prequel for a series as prestigious as The “Hunger Games”, one might be nervous. Would it be just as compelling as the previous four films? Yes, yes it would.

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a masterpiece. It combines two key elements of author Suzanne Collins’ storytelling: suspense and sentimentality. It consists of three parts, just like Collins’ novel does. Each part is crafted with small details that reference later events presented in the “Hunger Games” trilogy.

The casting selection plays a vital role in the essence of the energy of each character and the stories they tell.

— River Ball

The story follows a young Coriolanus Snow as he mentors Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute for District 12. The stand-out facets of the movie are quick to grab the attention of anyone watching: scenery, casting, and score.

The scenic qualities of Collins’ world are showcased beautifully on screen. The crisp high-rises of the Capitol provide a great contrast to the rolling hills of bliss in District 12. The Capitol, even though its riches play a key role in the aesthetics, seems to be in a 1950s-like fashion and industrial era, which is a key distinction from the citizens of the districts, who seem decades behind them. 

These differences depict the repulsive nature of the members of the Capitol, using their elaborate lifestyle to justify their warped sense of morality. The beauty of District 12, even within the coal-mining town, showcases its simplicity. District communities value pure, uncensored honesty and love, which is reflected in the simple but monotonous lives they live. Viewers are swiftly transported to the atmosphere of Panem, whether that’s in the Capitol or in District 12. 

The leading duo of Tom Blyth (Coriolanus Snow) and Rachel Zegler (Lucy Gray Baird) are so in touch with their characters that the viewer forgets they’re even acting. Blyth is fairly new to Hollywood but this introduction is sure to set him up for a number of roles to come. Blyth does a masterful job of portraying a young President Snow. His warm, inviting personality gradually becomes power-hungry, which Blyth effortlessly plays. Zegler’s performance is mesmerizing. From the moment she is introduced, her confident, sweet and charismatic personality wins every heart of the Capitol as she unleashes her powerful voice. Lucy Gray also has no trouble capturing the romantic affection of Snow. 

The casting selection plays a vital role in the essence of the energy of each character and the stories they tell. Two veteran actors support the two main characters: Viola Davis and Peter Dinklage. Davis’ depiction of Volumina Gall instantly showcased the Head Gamemaker’s ability to command any scene she’s in with powerful grace and villainous determination. Dinklage plays another authority figure within the Capitol as Casca Highbottom, the dean of the academy where Snow studies. Dinklage’s portrayal is not only mysterious but also tragic, showing Highbottom’s sincere side. 

Music is an important part of the “Hunger Games” as a dystopian universe because of the well-known whistle and “The Hanging Tree” song used as a symbol for the rebellion throughout the trilogy of novels and movies. Surprisingly, the film had much more music than initially expected. Zegler uses her voice numerous times throughout the movie, captivating the throngs of the Capitol. She sings for those in District 12 with her “covey”, a musical group of young people that travel around and perform together. In one very purposeful scene, Baird is composing the lyrics to “The Hanging Tree,” which is later sung by Katniss Everdeen as she leads the rebels in the original three novels. The song sounds a bit different as Baird sings it, but it connects Everdeen and Baird in their efforts to be rebellious for independence and freedom. 

Despite the obvious violence and gore that comes with most dystopian tales, this movie is cinematically beautiful. From the setting to the score, each detail is seamlessly woven together to place the viewer right in the midst of Panem. Even if one has not seen the original “Hunger Games” movies or even read any of the books, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a great place to start for those who wish to explore the lore or those who just want a good movie. The question now is: are you, are you, gonna go see “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”?

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River Ball, Opinion Editor

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