10 Things To Remember Before Watching 'The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes'
The Hunger Games prequel is finally here!
And boy, are we gearing up for one of the biggest movies to hit the silver screen for 2023.
Highly-anticipated and eagerly awaited, loyal followers and fans of The Hunger Games franchise were swept away by protagonist Katniss Everdeen and her journey through demolishing a yearly competition that saw children aged 12 to 18 kill one another for the entertainment of their reigning government.
While the first four movies from the genius series of novels by Suzanne Collins had us on the edge of our seats in the cinema back in the early 2010s, the story surrounding the trials and tribulations Panem as a region didn't just end there.
In May 2020, loyal fans were filled with glee when Collins released a prequel novel that exists separately from the original trilogy, titled The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes. Three years later, her most recent novel of the series will be coming to our movie screens on 17 November.
However, much has been left unsaid about what the film will really encompass. But if there's one thing we can rely on, is that the novel may provide deeper insight into what we can expect.
Here are 10 things to remember before watching The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023):
[SPOILER ALERT]: Multiple storylines and plots from the novel will be discussed, so read at your own risk!
1. It's unlikely that any of the prime characters from the original Hunger Games trilogy will be seen in this film
As the novel itself acts as a prequel to the events that took place in the first three Hunger Games novels, it's safe to say that we may not see or hear a speck out of Katniss Everdeen or Peeta Mellark — or even their parents for that matter.
According to the book, the timeline in the story surrounds the 10th annual Hunger Games, an astonishing 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games and 65 years prior to the happenings in Catching Fire. Other beloved characters such as Effie Trinket, Haymitch Abernathy, and Gale Hawthorne will probably not be discussed either.
Fans with an eye for detail may recall in Catching Fire (2013) that District 4 competitor from the 75th Hunger Games, Mags, won the following year, at the 11th annual Hunger Games. May we come across Mags in her youth in this film? Only time will tell.
2. We will get an outline of Coriolanus Snow's entire life before he became the President of Panem
The primary tale in The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes can be whittled down to one key plot point: This is President Snow's backstory.
Getting a peek into his life before he became the terrifying and dreadful president who was eventually mobbed by his own people to death, Coriolanus Snow had a life of his own, and a privileged one at that.
Born into an elite family that slowly dwindled in fortune and status due to the effects of The First Rebellion, an encapsulating part of this movie is getting to see Snow in his youth; Who he was, what he wanted to be; his dreams; his goals; his life in its purest form.
We may not always be one to root for the common enemy, but bear in mind that in this film, Snow is merely a boy trying to uphold his family's legacy while structuring a path of independence on his own.
3. Tigris will be making her much-anticipated return to The Hunger Games
Staunch fans of the trilogy will remember Tigris as a monumental fashionista with a flare for the extravagant and a skill for the fabrication of wearable art. Others, on the other hand, remember her as a fleeting character who gave Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Cressida, and Pollux shelter during the war on the Capitol back in Mockingjay: Part 2 (2015).
Nevertheless, her striking appearance as a stripped-covered feline with whiskers and bold tattoos made her an unforgettable face.
Making her grand return to the series in her youth, a little surprise may be in store for fans who are unaware that Tigris and Coriolanus are cousins. After both of their parents perished in The First Rebellion, the duo went on to live with their grandmother as they struggled to make their way to the top of the food chain in the Capitol.
Warming hearts at first glance, we know this doesn't last long. As her ousting from the Presidential Palace and subsequent support of Katniss in the rebellion to take her cousin down is a pivotal moment by the end of the series, we'll probably be getting answers as to why these once close cousins drifted to a place beyond repair.
4. The circle of District 12 winners will finally be complete with Lucy Gray Baird's story in the 10th Hunger Games
Oddly enough, this is probably the only novel in the series where the winner of the Hunger Games isn't really talked about, fawned over, or given that much thought about.
In the first novel, Katniss revealed that there were two prior winners of the Hunger Games who emerged from District 12, one being her mentor and guide for the rest of the series, the winner of the 50th Hunger Games, Haymitch Abernathy, alongside another unnamed winner, who Katniss revealed is dead by the time the 74th Hunger Games rolls around.
Only by the time The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes (2020) is released do we find out that the other winner is indeed Lucy Gray Baird, a member of the travelling troupe called The Covey, who took shelter in District 12 after the rebellion collapsed.
Though the trailer of the film doesn't provide clarity about how she goes about winning the game, we're still up for anything that describes how this songstress eventually rose to become one of the original 10 victors of The Hunger Games.
5. The 10th Hunger Games is very different from what we eventually see in the 74th and 75th Hunger Games
Despite the fact that common sense may denote this fact as unsurprising due to the time periods of the game, no one can be prepared to understand the level of torment and torture each contestant is put through prior to competing.
As seen in the trailer, Snow, who is a young man living in the Capitol, will be chosen as Lucy Gray Baird's mentor in preparation for her Hunger Games. This is quite different from the method of mentorship used in the original trilogy, where past winners of the games' mentor tributes from their own district.
Still deciding how to find stable ground in preparing tributes for the games, some of the most disturbing facts found in The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes novel include the contestants being kept in a pen like animals for the entertainment of Capitol visitors, and being starved before entering the games. A portion of the time, some tributes die from starvation, dehydration, and exposure before even making it into the games.
We may be granted some solace in the fact that tributes were no longer being tortured before competing by the time the 74th Hunger Games came around, though it'll be interesting to see what changes were eventually made, why, and how.
6. A love story is brewing between a future president and a District 12 victor
From bestowing her with a white rose to holding her hand as they entered the arena, there's no denying the chemistry that can be seen between Coriolanus and Lucy in the trailer of The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes (2023).
If we can guarantee that Lucy does end up emerging from the games alive, and Coriolanus, who will act as her mentor for the games, will be waiting for her upon her arrival, we can only hope that a blooming love story will be creeping its way into the events of the film.
7. We may receive a more descriptive backstory on the downfall of District 13
It's no secret — The Hunger Games were created with the sole purpose by the Capitol to remind the districts of their power, alongside projecting a message of their lack of remorse or forgiveness towards a failed attack on them, referred to as The First Rebellion, orchestrated 74 years before the events of the first novel.
During the climax of The First Rebellion, the Capitol successfully destroyed District 13, sending a message to the other 12 of their power and prestige — or so they thought.
According to a chapter in Catching Fire (2009), District 13's primary industry surrounded nuclear science and technology while dabbling in graphite mining, giving them the confidence in ability to try and take down the Capitol. Unfortunately, their goal would not come to fruition for another 75 years.
Nothing clear has been laid out, so the views surrounding the events that led to District 13's "apparent" decimation may be an interesting topic of discussion.
8. Snow's obsession with white roses may not be what we think it's actually about
A merciless monster or a misunderstood man?
In Catching Fire (2013), the 65th winner of the Hunger Games, Finnick Odair, mentioned to Katniss that Snow uses the scent of roses to hide the ever-present smell of blood that comes from sores in his mouth. During his rise to power, Snow would poison any rivals who interfered with his plans, even going as far as to consume the poison himself. Though antidotes existed, they didn't always work, so white roses did the trick instead.
However, we seemingly get a varied backstory from The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes (2020). Prized by the Capitol during the days of his youth, Snow's grandmother, who took him and Tigris in after their parents perished, had an immaculate rose garden, which he deeply admired. Besides that, Snow also carried around a compact belonging to his late mother that was filled with rose-scented powder. He'd inhale the powder occasionally as a method to remain calm and remember his mother whom he loved dearly.
With two vastly contradicting stories, could both possibly hold some truth? Only time and the movie will tell.
9. Questions surrounding "The Hanging Tree" song Katniss sang in Mockingjay: Part 1 (2014) will be answered
A breathtaking tool for battle, many fans will remember Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss singing The Hanging Tree in Mockingjay: Part 1 (2014) as a way for Mockingjay birds to imitate and carry around with them wherever they travelled. Soon, the song grew to become the rebel's theme song when attempting to take down the Capitol.
Though the song became a weapon used to take down Snow, its origins began much earlier, as Lucy Gray Baird had composed the song long before Katniss even existed. Originally inspired by the execution of a criminal soldier, Lucy had also curated the tune to relate to a past lover of hers who she'd meet in the woods, by a "hanging tree".
Oddly enough, the song Deep in the Meadow, which Katniss sang to Rue during her death in The Hunger Games (2012), was also written by Lucy, but as a dedication to Snow and her love for him.
Adding fuel to the fire over Snow's unwavering frustration against Katniss using both songs against him in the war to destroy the Capitol, this discovery adds to just one of the many mysteries unanswered from the original Hunger Games series.
10. Don't expect a happy ending
While the collaboration on constructing the 10th Hunger Games doesn't seem like something any person in reality would subscribe to, the most chilling part of this dystopian tale is how this way of life continues for another 65 years, only to finally be resolved in bloodshed and loss beyond anything comprehensible.
Taking his journey from heir of a broken fortune to mentor of the Hunger Games and eventually the president of a broken system that never recovers from its root of pure evil, there's no telling how Coriolanus Snow brings himself down. All we can ensure is that here, his kingdom is only on the rise.
Are you excited for The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes (2023)?
The movie is set to hit theatres on 17 November.
Watch the full trailer below:
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