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May The Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

GiGi+Schueneman+is+excited+to+purchase+tickets+to+Hunger+Games%3A+The+Ballad+of+Songbirds+and+Snakes.
Norah Helling
GiGi Schueneman is excited to purchase tickets to “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”

Happy Hunger Games, and as always, may the odds be ever in your favor. 

The odds, we later learn, were not in their favor. They weren’t in anyone’s favor except for maaaybe the Capitol Citizens. But more on that later.

On November 17, 2023, a prequel to the “Hunger Games” series came out in theaters: “Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” It stars Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird, Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow, Hunter Schafer as Tigris Snow, Josh Andrés Rivera as Sejanus Plinth, Viola Davis as Dr. Volumnia Gaul, Jason Schwartzman as Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman, and Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom.

This is only Rachel Zegler’s second movie, after Stephen Sonheim’s revival of “West Side Story,” where she played the lead, Maria. She will soon play Snow White in a 2025 adaptation of the Disney classic.

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Since his career began in 2010, Tom Blyth has starred in “Billy the Kid,” the “Gilded Age,” and “Robin Hood.”

The film, which follows young Coriolanus Snow, his relationship with Lucy Gray Baird, and his descent into becoming the villain that he is in the later Hunger Games movies and novels, made $244.8 million in the box office.

And justifiably so.

I saw the movie Friday, December 8, and I loved it. It was particularly enjoyable because I had just watched the four previous Hunger Games movies, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, over Thanksgiving Break, so they were fresh in my mind. 

The movies are based on a book series by Susanne Collins. They are set in a future dystopian nation, Panem, consisting of a Capitol and 12 districts. Each district has a main production focus, like lumber or luxury items, that the workers manufacture and send to the Capitol. The later districts, like eleven and twelve, are very impoverished and civilians barely make enough money to feed their families.

These contrast strongly with areas like District 1 and the Capitol, where citizens lead lavish lives filled with colorful, flamboyant clothing and fancy new technology.

Every year a young boy and girl from each district are selected to fight to the death in an arena created and controlled by Capitol leaders until only one tribute is left. The president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, claims that the purpose of these games is to remind the districts of a past war between the Capitol and the districts, and to warn the districts of what will happen if they rebel again.

The movies delve into the psychological and social effects on war on individuals and countries alike. They also mock people’s ability to ignore the poverty that others face when the means benefit them. For example, the Capitol citizens are each unique, wearing vibrant clothes made of expensive fabric and elaborate makeup that make them look almost inhuman; while the districts are clothed in dirty rags. The Capitol people cheer when the district tributes ride into the center of town, because to them, the games are merely “games” and not life-ending tournaments where children are forced to fight to their deaths.

The Capitol citizens love the games, because they are in control and will never have to worry about being chosen, while the districts dread the day they must stand in a hoard and watch their friend, or sister, or their own name being pulled out of a bowl to announce that they will be thrown into an arena and killed.

In the first books and movies, District 12, the poorest district who rarely wins any games, chooses Primrose Everdeen, played by Willow Shields, and Peeta Mellark, Josh Hutcherson, as tributes. Katniss Everdeen, Prim’s older sister, volunteers as tribute to save her sister. 

For the first time in history, the Capitol citizens and Head Gamemaker love Katniss and Peeta’s love story so much that they decide to allow a joint win, and the two District 12 tributes become Panem victors.

In the later movies, against President Snow’s warning, Katniss leads a revolution of all of the districts against the capitol, gaining support by singing the song, “The Hanging Tree,” and wearing a mockingbird pin. Throughout the entire series, Katniss directly opposes President Snow, and they both try to kill each other.

I really liked the original movies, but my heart was beating so quickly when watching them that I did think I was having a heart attack. The suspense was never-ending, and the plot had so many quick twists and turns that I never knew what to expect. 

But those aren’t what this review is about.

The new movie focuses on young President Snow, particularly his relationship with Lucy Gray Baird, a tribute from District 12.

After his dad’s death, Coriolanus Snow and his family are very poor. They are evicted from their house for not paying rent, and Corio’s cousin Tigris makes all of his clothes. Corio goes to the “reaping,” the event where tributes are chosen in the districts.

That year, Snow learns that the students in his Capitol school will be paired with a tribute from each district and will compete to make their respective tribute the biggest spectacle. 

The government of Panem has decided to televise the games for the Capitol citizens’ enjoyment, so the gamemakers want the tributes to be such spectacles that all Capitol Citizens watch the games. Snow is paired with Lucy Gray Baird, a rebellious singer from District 12. 

Corio desperately wants to win the prize and save his family, so he immediately tries to bond with Lucy Gray. This proves easier than expected, and they ultimately fall in love. Snow helps Lucy through the games, giving her tips and convincing sponsors from the Capitol to send her food and water. 

After the games, due to reasons that I will not tell you (to avoid spoilers), Corio is forced to become a Peacekeeper, or military guard, in District 12 where Lucy Gray lives. They spend some time bonding and singing songs together, but shockingly, a few murders later, their bond begins to weaken. Lucy loses trust in her beloved, and Snow begins to see her as a loose thread in need of tying up, or in this case, cutting off.

Snow returns to the Capitol, alone, and begins his descent into becoming the villain that we see him as in the later movies.

And all because of a two-week long situationship. 

I mean, come on. I get that this is a movie, so a lot is meant to be unrealistic, but if I broke up with my boyfriend I would probably just eat some ice cream and watch “The Notebook,” not go and kill innocent children.

But that’s just me.

I didn’t really know what to expect when coming to watch this movie. I knew that it was a prequel to the original Hunger Games, and my TikTok for you page was flooded with edited videos of Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow, but that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge.

Somehow, it was simultaneously exactly what I expected and nothing that I could have imagined. The plot worked so well with the plot of the previous Hunger Games, as it explained why Snow hated Katniss and her mockingjay symbol so much.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was how many of the characters in the new movie connected to other characters in the first Hunger Games. For example, Lucretius “Lucky” Flickerman was a television announcer for the first televised Hunger Games, and at one point in the movie he makes a phone call to change a dinner reservation. On the call, he mentions that he will need a high chair at the table. Presumably, the high chair is for his baby son, Caesar Flickerman, who is the television announcer for the games in the original movies.

Unfortunately, there are no returning actors from the original Hunger Games.

I highly recommend watching this movie, whether or not you have already watched the original Hunger Games. I do recommend watching the other ones too, however, as I believe it can add some perspective.

Going to see this movie can be a great way to celebrate how well you did on semester midterms, or it can be a distraction from the fact that you may have failed chemistry. Either way, it is a fun way to spend two hours and thirty seven minutes.



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About the Contributor
Gigi Schueneman, Life & Arts Editor
Gigi Schueneman is a sophomore at Fort Worth Country Day. When she is not in a class or dancing with the FWCD Ballet Conservatory, she loves to watch "Gossip Girl." She looks forward to the days that she is studying at Yale or playing with her bunnies in her future NYC penthouse. But for now, she likes to spend her time listening to music and organizing Pinterest boards in her bedroom. Gigi is so excited for her second year on the Quill!
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