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The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes: Performance and Audience Reactions

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, prequel to the popular Hunger Games series, focuses on the story of Panem’s infamous president, Coriolanus Snow.

Credit: Lionsgate

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel to the popular Hunger Games series, focuses on the villain origin story of Panem’s infamous president, Coriolanus Snow.

The Hunger Games trilogy, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson was a global phenomenon that proved to be a tough act to follow up.

Fortunately, Suzanne Collins did not miss.

Lucy Gray Baird and President Snow. Credit: Lionsgate.

Audience Reactions and Box Office

TBOSAS, as of January 11th has a worldwide box office of 331.6 million dollars. Critics seemed to have disagreed with the movie, but overall audience reactions have proved to be extremely positive. While President Snow, in the original trilogy didn’t strike one as a very interesting character, TBOSAS seems to have given the viewer a whole new viewpoint. The film stars Tom Blyth as young Coriolanus Snow, Josh Andres Rivera as Sejanus Plinth and Rachel Zegler, the well-known West Side Story star, as Lucy Gray Baird.

The actors, Rachel Ziegler, Tom Blyth and Josh Andres Riviera. Credit: Vanity Fair.

Plot

The story is set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteers for her sister and focuses on the 10th Hunger Games. The games at that point are a dull event, which the capital citizens view as an execution rather than an entertainment show. It is set in a stadium instead of a well-built arena, where only the strongest have a chance to survive. There are no tactics involved and the tributes are treated poorly with no glamour or respect. Coriolanus, suffering through poverty at the time, sees the potential in the games and suggests those ideas to the head Gamemaker.

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird. Credit: Lionsgate

Snow seems to have a strong appreciation for the elitist capital lifestyle and a thirst for power. All this goes haywire when he meets Lucy Gray. Snow is pulled into mentoring the tributes with his other classmates and is allotted what everyone assumed would be the weakest of the bunch: the girl from district 12. However, Lucy Gray comes as a surprise. She has a persona which is very hard to ignore, and her attitude goes against everything that Snow has believed to be true. He falls in love with her and cheats to make her win the games. In the end, it does come down to what Snow told Katniss in The Mockingjay, “It’s the things we love most, that destroy us.”

Music in The Movie

A big part of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is Lucy Gray’s music. Instagram and Tik Tok have been blowing up with clips from the movie as music has played an awfully large part in it. It started with “Can’t Catch Me Now” by Olivia Rodrigo, a song that captures the exact essence of the hunger games and symbolizes what they mean. Most of the powerful scenes in the film have come from Lucy Gray’s voice and musical charisma.

The rendition of “The Hanging Tree” by Rachel Zegler came as a delight to the viewers as we got to witness the words of the song in the movie, which make them mean so much more. Also, the fact that it was used as a rebellion song against Snow in the original trilogy gives it so much weight as it was a song written by Snow’s ex-lover. In the books, it’s even mentioned that the song was originally written for Billy Taupe, the boy who initially broke Lucy Gray’s heart and who Snow holds a strong hatred for.

Lucy Gray Braid and President Snow in the forest. Credit: Lionsgate.

The song eventually became for Snow when they both decided to flee north. One song which has brought up a lot of controversy from the viewers has been the depiction of “Pure as the Driven Snow”. Being a huge Hunger Games fan, I too, was disappointed to see Coriolanus get up and leave in the middle of the song where Lucy Gray is telling him that she loves him. In the books, Snow has been waiting for this moment and so, he cries when she sings this.

Zegler’s Acting

Overall, Zegler did a phenomenon job as she captured the true spirit of Lucy Gray Baird. When she performed “The Ballad of Lucy Gray” and “The Old Therebefore”, audiences in the movie and in real life were reduced to tears. The film has also been a transformative experience for Zegler’s acting career. As only a while back she received a lot of hate and backlash from the internet for her opinions on Snow White but hey, one woman’s opinion! Overall, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has done extremely well and brought the internet back to its Hunger Games obsession.

Written By

An English and Film student at Trinity College Dublin.

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