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The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

Staff Profile
Ryleigh Underwood
Ryleigh Underwood
Editor-in-Chief

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes: A Tale of Love and Betrayal

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Jenna Coller
IT’S NOT OVER UNTIL THE MOCKINGJAY SINGS: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Sits Next to its Predecessors

The massively popular release of The Hunger Games trilogy and four movie adaptations were released between 2008 and 2015. Following this, the critically acclaimed author of these books, Suzanne Collins, released a prequel to the series that takes place 64 years before the original novel. Titled, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, the story revolves around the 10th Annual Hunger Games in which Coriolanus Snow serves as mentor to the District 12 female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. Meant to serve as an origin story for the antagonist of the primary series, President Snow, the book covers how his childhood in poverty and short experience as a Peacekeeper in District 12 led to his authoritarian reign over Panem.

The book was released in May of 2020 and its movie adaptation on November 17th, 2023. Like the four original movies, it has superb acting and impressive costume design. Also, it has better set design and cinematography than the originals, but it doesn’t have any blood or gore unlike the first four. This movie also contains plenty of singing which is done by Lucy Gray, played by Rachel Zegler who has an amazing singing voice. Most of these songs were written by Suzanne Collins and were included in the novel. An incredibly emotional film, it discusses sensitive topics and connects viewers to lovable (and hateable) characters.

All the actors in this movie are masters in their craft. One of the leads, Rachel Zegler, had her breakout role only recently in 2021, playing Maria in West Side Story. The other lead, Tom Blyth has been acting since 2010 with the movie Robin Hood. The movie has many other notable actors including Peter Dinklage, best known for his role as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, and Viola Davis, star of major movies such as Fences and The Woman King. Another wonderful thing about this cast is that it is very diverse, an important feature that is brought over from the original Hunger Games movies. The lead actors have amazing chemistry, something that makes their on-screen relationship seem very realistic. 

The original Hunger Games movies did a great job with costume design, portraying the strange designs of the Capitol, as well as outfits in the districts, interviews, and games. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes continues this trend both in its district and Capitol costumes. The most notable of these is Lucy Gray’s resplendent dress. It has white long-sleeves and a corset top with colorful thread detailing. The skirt however, is the leading element of the dress. It’s an assortment of pastel colors, going from top to bottom: lavender, yellow, orange, red. Lucy Gray wears the dress throughout the reaping, her time in the capitol, and in the games, asserting it as her uniform for feminine resilience. It makes her stand out from other tributes and matches the colors of the snakes later dropped in the arena.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ cinematography and set design blend together to create an atmosphere and ambiance of horror and dread. The best set design and cinematography involves the hanging tree itself. Just the image of it on screen is enough to give the viewer goosebumps. It’s truly haunting, and the cinematography used for it just pronounces this feeling. 

Although this movie is overall amazing, it does have a major shortcoming. It focuses very heavily on the psychological horror of the Hunger Games; however, it would’ve been more impactful if there was a more realistic amount of gore and blood. The lack of realistic injury caused by the violence takes the viewer out of the games and back into the theater. One scene in particular ruined part of the movie’s immersion, two people are shot in it, but there isn’t a singular drop of blood. It would have been possible to still have a PG-13 rating with even more blood and gore, as shown by the first four films. 

Despite not being a musical, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes has an ample amount of singing. This is because one of its protagonists, Lucy Gray Baird, is a singer. There are multiple scenes in which Lucy

Gray sings a variety of songs, most being original. Because of this, the casting directors had to find both a talented actor and singer. They succeeded in this by choosing Rachel Zegler. She did a great job at performing these songs and incredibly sang them live on set.

From this point on, there are going to be spoilers for The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes so please proceed with caution.

The emotional weight of this film is its best quality. There are two scenes in particular that viewers are likely to remember for their emotional weight. One of these occurs after Reaper Ash gathers all the bodies of those who died in the games, and lays them down under a flag of Panem. After doing this, he stares straight into the camera asking “are you going to punish me now?” After no response, he screams this line again. The viewer can see the rage and emotion of Reaper during this scene, and is likely to get chills at his rightful outrage. It reminds the viewer of the horror of these games. 

The other really emotional scene in this movie, one that is also likely to give the viewer goosebumps, is Sejanus being hung. The hangings are very well done and look very realistic, a haunting image. The hanging is not the only tragic part of Sejanus being hanged, but also his cries for help and his “ma” right before he dies, being echoed by mockingjays after he is killed. It’s an important step to show Snow’s descent into evil as he was the one who caused Sejanus’s death.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is overall a terrific movie. It has amazing acting and singing, as well as great cinematography and set design. With its powerful scenes, the viewer is reminded of the true horror of the Hunger Games. Although it has a major fault of not having realistic enough injuries, the rest of the movie makes up for this. With its warning of what happens when someone becomes too power-hungry, it’s an important film that everyone should see. 

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About the Contributors
Sophie Haque
Sophie Haque, Staff Writer
Sophie is a freshman at CHS who is excited to be part of the Periscope staff. She loves writing, which is why she joined Journalism, and is looking forward to writing articles. In her free time she enjoys reading and singing along to Taylor Swift and musical theater. In CHS she participates in quizbowl, academic decathlon, and is part of the Shakespeare troupe.
Jenna Coller
Jenna Coller, Editor-in-Chief
Jenna is a senior at CHS and this is her third year on Staff. She loves reading and her favorite books are Normal People by Sally Rooney and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Jenna has an affinity for music and lyricism, her favorite artists being Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and Pheobe Bridgers. She is excited to be returning as editor-in-chief this year alongside her classmates Hannah and Ryleigh.
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