Releasing in 2023, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes can make one moment from the original Hunger Games movies even more powerful.
One scene from the original The Hunger Games movies can become even more powerful through The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. Based on the 2020 prequel novel by Suzanne Collins, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is set during the 10th annual Hunger Games, and stars Tom Blyth as a young Coriolanus Snow long before he becomes the tyrannical President of Panem. If The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is to emotionally connect to The Hunger Games, however, one specific storyline must feature in the forthcoming movie adaptation.
During The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Katniss Everdeen finds herself back in her home of District 12, and is filmed singing a song from her youth called “The Hanging Tree.” No background is given for the song, but Katniss’ performance provides a tender moment during the climactic chapter of the original The Hunger Games series. Collins’ The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes story recounts the origin of this tune, and adapting that angle for screen would not only draw a beautiful connection to The Hunger Games, it can also flesh out the intriguing backstory of Coriolanus Snow.
What Makes The Hanging Tree’s Story So Powerful?
The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes sees Coriolanus Snow become a mentor for District 12 Hunger Games tribute Lucy Gray Baird, who will be portrayed by West Side Story star Rachel Zegler in live-action. The two young adults strike up an unlikely relationship, with Snow cheating during the Hunger Games to ensure Lucy survives and wins, securing their future together. All seems lost when a man named Arlo Chance is hanged for murder, sparking rebellion in District 12, and disrupting Snow and Lucy’s plans. In the aftermath, it is Lucy herself who pens “The Hanging Tree” about Chance’s execution.
That “The Hanging Tree” is brought up during two separate moments of Panem rebellion more than 60 years apart makes it hugely impactful to the overarching The Hunger Games narrative. In The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, it brings the Snow and Lucy romance to an end, since he believes the song is about her ex-partner, while in The Hunger Games, the tune incites protestors in District 5 to destroy the Capitol’s main source of power. By exploring Lucy’s inspiration for writing the song, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes can bring renewed meaning to Katniss’ performance in The Hunger Games.
The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes Needs To Connect To The Original Trilogy
As a prequel to The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes should connect to the past not only through storylines and characters, but also thematically. The Hunger Games movies received praise for their grounded and touching moments, and the upcoming prequel should continue in that vein by adapting powerful ideas such as the story behind “The Hanging Tree.” In doing so, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes can simultaneously provide much-needed backstory for Coriolanus Snow, explaining how his dislike for District 12, Katniss, and the concept of rebellion developed due to events from the President’s young adulthood.
Reaction towards The Hunger Games became progressively worse with each movie, making appetite for The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes challenging to gauge. As much as a successful prequel would reignite interest in The Hunger Games, failure could kill the franchise for good. Adapting significant emotional beats such as “The Hanging Tree” origin story will prove vital both for tugging at heartstrings, and connecting The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes to characters the audience is already familiar with.