The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Review

by Amelie Ritchie

As a teenager who absolutely loved the original Hunger Games trilogy, I welcomed the Hunger Games renaissance with open arms. When I read the prequel to the series, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I was taken back to the times when I would carry my book everywhere so I could read as much and as often as I could. 

My excitement continued when the movie was announced, just a few years after the release of the book. I waited not so patiently for its release and saw it as soon as it came out. 

Read on to hear my thoughts on the movie itself and how it compares to the book. 

The movie follows Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) at 18 years old as he mentors Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), the District 12 tribute of the 10th Hunger Games. The story shows their relationship, which runs parallel to Snow’s decline from a seemingly friendly boy to President Snow, the villain that we all know. 

The movie starts with the context of the beginning of the rebellion. It then moves about ten years in the future, to Snow getting ready to go to the academy. Let me tell you - I didn’t expect to be attracted to any version of President Snow. But shirtless Tom Blyth, with his soft blond curls, had me convinced that his character could do no harm.

One area that the movie portrayed exceptionally well was the songs. Music plays a big role in the story, as Lucy Gray is a musician. Many of her songs were written into the book, but whenever I read them in my head I could never get the rhythm right, or imagine how the music would sound behind the lyrics. It all clicked into place when I heard them in the movie theatre.


Via Cosmopolitan

Something else I was impressed with was the jabberjays. This fictional species of bird mimics any speech they overhear. At several points in the story, the jabberjays echo the final words of people right before death. While the book does a great job of describing this, the movie takes it a step further. Hearing the pleas of characters right before their deaths overlapping and echoing in the cinema was truly haunting. 

A welcome addition to the movie that was not in the book was the added detail of the Hunger Games. In the book, there is an explosion in the arena where the Hunger Games are held. This makes the arena more dynamic, exposing tunnels that tributes could hide in. Whenever a tribute went into one of these tunnels, we didn’t hear from or see them until they emerged. In the movie, we get to see what goes down in the tunnels, making the Games section of the movie much more interesting. 

Via Fandango

Something that the movie lacked was an insight into the psyche of Coriolanus Snow. Throughout the book, we have direct access to his thoughts and can see how truly unhinged and narcissistic he is. We don’t have this in the movie, and so have to rely on Snow’s actions to show what he is thinking. The thing is, his actions usually contradict his thoughts; while he might do something nice for someone, it was usually for his own benefit. I think the dark side of male psychology was lost in the movie, however, it still did a good job showing Snow’s gradual decline into a villain. 

Via The Mary Sue

One thing I didn’t expect to love so much was the character Lucky Flickerman, Hunger Games presenter and ancestor to Caesar Flickerman. I don’t remember his character being that funny in the book, but his movie version was hilarious. He had so many out-of-pocket one-liners that were unexpected, but so welcome. 

My excitement for the release of this movie was for good reason; The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is an excellent book-to-movie adaptation and I recommend any Hunger Games fan to see it. If you really want to get inside the mind of young President Snow, the book is probably a better place to go. 

Amelie Ritchie is a second year UNSW student who started off studying Science and Engineering, but joined the dark side by transferring into a Bachelor of Media (Comms. and Journalism) to engage in her affection for writing. She loves to read and write, finding the most enjoyment in fiction and personal essays. It is likely you will find her sitting in the gentle light of her bedroom, listening to music as she burns a candle. 

Blitz Editor

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