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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

COLUMN: “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is the prequel we all needed

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I have always loved dystopian novels and films. I am fascinated by society’s fictitious future. Some examples include “Divergent” and “The Maze Runner,” but my favorite has always been “The Hunger Games.” After about eight years since the last film, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is the perfect prequel to the original blockbuster movies.  

The movie, adapted from the novel written by IU alumna Suzanne Collins, follows young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) while he is a student in the Capitol during the 10th annual Hunger Games. Select students in his year are given the opportunity to mentor a tribute, one of the children from each district selected to compete in the hunger games. Snow is assigned the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler). With her colorful personality and musical talent, she quickly wins the Capitol's heart.  

I was surprised when I found myself liking Snow in this movie, considering he is the ultimate villain in the rest of the franchise. His relationship with Baird and his cousin, Tigris (Hunter Schafer), shows a more caring side of him we didn’t see before.  

When he is assigned to be Baird’s mentor, he does anything he can to help her through the games, even if it’s as little as bringing her food. While it was to his benefit for her to win, he shows compassion for her even as his fellow classmates treat their tributes like animals. 

One of my favorite parts is the film’s exploration of how the games developed over the years since their founding. We get to see how much influence Snow had over the games while he was a mentor. Prior to Snow’s involvement, tributes had to scavenge for food, water or medicine in the arena. Snow found ways to capitalize on the games further, thinking up sponsors who could pay to send their favorite tributes supplies.  

I read the book a couple of months before the movie came out, so I had a solid understanding of what was going on. When I finally went to see the film, I thought the ideas were skillfully adapted from page to screen. I have seen plenty of books turned into movies where important plot points and details are left out, but in the latest Hunger Games, that was not the case. 

Not only did I find each event to be spot on, but I was impressed to find some especially small details in the book made their way into the movie. Things like the songs Baird performs and the dress she wears during the games are my favorite examples. 

My only complaint about the film is its length — two and half hours long. I will admit the pace slowed down significantly after the games ended. Having to sit for another hour to watch the less action-packed parts of Snow’s past became a bit difficult. Though, the exciting turn of events at the end definitely made up for the slow build of tension. 

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is the perfect villain origin story for the man all Hunger Games fans know as the evil President Snow. The film provides meaningful context for the original movies. I was obsessed with “The Hunger Games” movies when I was younger, so this prequel was everything I needed and more.  

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