"Are you... are you... coming to the tree?"
It might have been posters outside, books in the bookstore or simply when you opened the doors of the cinema, but from 2008 till 2015 there was no escaping The Hunger Games. What started as a young adult dystopian novel trilogy, has now grown into one of the biggest movie franchises to date. Many fans were heartbroken as their favourite series officially came to an end in 2015, but when the author Suzanne Collins released the prequel novel ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ on May 19, 2020, she reignited a spark in the fandom. I am here to refresh your memory and tell you all about the new and upcoming film.
The Hunger Games Trilogy
We start in District 12, the lowest and poorest district known in Panem. As a result of the rebellion, each district in Panem is forced to send two tributes, one boy and one girl between the ages 12 and 18, to compete in The Hunger Games. These children will fight till the death until only one remains, the winner. The games are used as a form of entertainment, mainly to the wealthy people who live in the Capitol.
We follow Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers for her younger sister, who was initially chosen as tribute. Together with Peeta, the male tribute from her District, she competes in the 74th Hunger Games and the 75th Hunger Games. Katniss eventually becomes the face of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. The one person behind The Hunger Games is the ruler of Panem, President Snow. We know him as a rich and bitter old man with a hatred towards rebels, especially Katniss. We know he has no issues sending young children into an arena to kill one another. President Snow is a well written and mysterious antagonist, but is there more to him?
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
In the Ballads of Songbirds and snakes we follow Coriolanus Snow, an 18-year-old student living in the Capitol, who later will grow up into the President Snow we all know and dislike. Snow lives with his grandma and his cousin, Tigris (do you still remember her?). His family lost their wealth during the rebellions and young Snow is determined to gain it all back. During The 10th Hunger Games, students get assigned to tributes as mentors. Coriolanus gets assigned to the girl in her rainbow dress from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird. The world seems against him as there is no way a small, weak girl from District 12 will win The Hunger games, right?
Coriolanus Snow and Lucy Gray Baird
Even though Coriolanus Snow is described to look similar to Peeta Mellark, who we all know from the previous films, they could not be more different. The same could be said for Katniss Everdeen and Lucy Gray Baird.Whereas Katniss was a hunter, forced to put on a performance, Lucy Gray is a performer at heart, put into a hunt, forced to survive. Peeta was generous, selfless, and willing to sacrifice himself for the person he loved, while Coriolanus Snow is unforgiving and self-absorbed.
He has a determination to win, and he will do everything to make sure he does so. He hates the rebels for what they did to his family but at the same time he falls for a rebel he is supposed to hate. In the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes we follow Coriolanus Snow’s internal struggle between good or bad, right or wrong, Love or hate, the Capitol or the Rebels.
Fiction or Reality?
When Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games, she did not only do this for entertainment purposes. The author even got inspired by real life events. The books and films discuss important themes, such as: inequality, class systems, corrupt governments and watching others suffer as a form of entertainment. Then there are also the themes of environmental destruction, world hunger, extreme capitalism, refugees, and social control as a result of the war. Katniss, Peeta, Lucy Gray and even President Snow were all born in a place that had already been broken by the people who came before them, doesn’t that sound familiar? The Hunger games could be seen as a warning to our generation, the reaping might be sooner than we think.
Suzanne Collins wrote a dark and twisted world that our generation grew up and resonated with. Whether you read the books at a young age or only watched the films, on November 17th, 2023, we get to feel nostalgic and go back to this spectacularly interesting world. As someone who has read the book and watched the trailer too many times to count, I can safely say that this film will be just as sensational and heart-breaking as we know these films to be.
A small tip from me, Pathe cinemas in Breda holds a Hunger Games marathon, including the new film, on the 15th and the 19h of November. See you there!