The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

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The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East

Eastside

Hunger Games prequel: The relighting of the fandom

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Kaylee Yoon (‘26)/ Eastside Media Director
The new Hunger Games movie features a young Coriolanus Snow.

What drives a person’s hunger for power? How does an individual develop into the quintessential villain? What makes people feel sympathy for the antagonist?

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” written by Suzanne Collins, illustrates President Coriolanus Snow’s rise to evil and power. The film adaptation was released to theaters on November 17, 2023, and the story acts as a prologue to “The Hunger Games” trilogy.

The story is centered around a young Coriolanus Snow, played by Tom Blyth, and his ascension to the villainy that is portrayed in the original trilogy. For years, fans have yearned for more information regarding Snow’s rise to power as well as the early days of the Hunger Games himself.

Cherry Hill High School East student and long-time fan of the series, Aviv Haroz (‘24), explained how “the concept of the Hunger Games is both very frightening yet intriguing, drawing you into the story.”

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There is such widespread love for the series due to its captivating plot, characters and casting.

“Collins created extremely lovable characters that are easy to root for and even easier to celebrate. Katniss Everdeen is one of the coolest and most inspiring female characters in modern literature and teaches lessons in grit, perseverance and fighting for what is right,” Haroz said.

Therefore, much excitement was built up around the release of “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” film featuring a new storyline and new characters.

Sixty-four years before Katniss enters the Hunger Games arena, young Snow is simply a student at the prestigious Capitol Academy. He has been selected as one of 24 Academy mentors in the 10th Annual Hunger Games. To his dismay, he has been assigned to mentor the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, portrayed by Rachel Zegler.

While Snow’s ulterior motives are to ensure that Lucy wins the games so that he can receive honor and the prize, he quickly develops feelings for the girl who has a voice like a songbird. Throughout the games themselves, fans can only wonder if Snow is doing whatever it takes to win, including cheating, because of his desire for power or due to his romantic feelings for her.

The film places a major focus on Snow’s ever-present hunger for control in both society and personal relationships. Collins succeeds in carving out a storyline for the future president based on his deceitful actions in all aspects of his life.

While fans of “The Hunger Games” trilogy may miss the familiar faces of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson playing Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, Blyth and Zegler completely live up to the high expectations. Blyth superbly imitates the expressions of Donald Sutherland, who played President Snow in the preceding four movies. Viewers have even taken to social media to rant about how Blyth has made such an evil character so lovable and charming.

Additionally, Haroz said, “Rachel Zegler was the perfect choice for this role and her singing in the movie took it to a new level.”

Multiple times throughout the movie, Zegler’s character, Lucy, performs original Appalachian-style folk songs. Zegler filmed each of these scenes live, which adds a sense of authenticity to her performance and character.

Furthermore, “‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ stood out as its movie because it was not trying to replicate one of the past movies. It had its authenticity while respecting the legacy of the other films,” said Haroz.

Part of what made the film special for fans was how it mirrored the settings and soundtrack of the original films while remaining true to a new, exciting plotline. However, some nods to the trilogy were given.

For example, Zegler recorded and performed her rendition of the song, “The Hanging Tree,” which is sung by Lawrence in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.” When Katniss sings the song, it’s nothing more than a haunting folk song from District 12, yet the new film reveals the backstory to the tune as the plot unravels around Snow and Baird. Fans now understand why the President has such a deep-rooted hatred for the folk song when Katniss sings it due to the role he played in the creation of the tune.

Viewers also get the chance to uncover the reasoning behind why President Snow hates that the “Mockingjay” symbolizes Katniss and the rebellion. It circles back to his hasty relationship with Baird and all of the many strings that came unraveled.

These intricate details provide much insight into Snow’s motives and allow viewers to watch the original movies with a new perspective.

All in all, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” has been a success within both the box office and “The Hunger Games” fandom.

“It was extremely well thought out, directed, filmed and cast,” said Haroz. “It makes sure to not upstage the other films while holding its own as a great prequel to give us insight into Snow’s past.”

Now, fans can only hope that Collins will continue to write novels based on the backstories of other characters in the trilogy.

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About the Contributor
Ella Goodstadt, Eastside Online Editor-In-Chief
Ella Goodstadt is one of the Online Editors-in-Chief for Eastside, and she is a senior at East. When she’s not working on Eastside, Ella loves to hang out with her friends, play tennis, watch her favorite shows, and read! Ella is so excited for an amazing year with Eastside!!

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