Movie Review: “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes”

By: Kira Jacoby  |  December 19, 2023

By Kira Jacoby

In anticipation of the new Hunger Games movie, “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” I immersed myself in the previous films of the original trilogy. Doing so helped me understand the remarkable character development that Coriolanus Snow went through to becoming president of Panem and forming the 12 districts and the Games. 

Through the movie, we are given insight into the historical landscape of Panem and, more specifically, the environment that shaped Snow’s upbringing. As he ages, he is portrayed as an incredibly loving and good man who does everything he can to protect his family. Snow’s story unfolds as he progressively betrays his own values, spiraling into a web of evil decisions. These decisions are centered around the tenth Hunger Games where he is required to mentor the winner of the games in order to receive the scholarship he needs to go to university. Without this scholarship he won’t be able to provide for his cousin and grandmother who barely have enough to eat. These choices begin to change who he is and he starts to lose himself. This transformative journey is what leads to the conniving President Snow we meet in the Hunger Games series. At the end of the movie, Coriolanus asks his cousin how he looks, replying he looks just like his father – a man she described as having hate in his eyes. This ending solidifies Snow’s complete loss of his inner good to his desire for power and the sacrifices he made for survival. 

I was worried the movie would not convey the complex decisions and emotions that Corolanius Snow felt in the book, but to my surprise, it was a great reflection in doing an amazing job in portraying them throughout. A main part of the story was his relationship with Lucy Gray, the participant that he mentored during the games. They grow from a purely contractual relationship to one of lovers. Learning that Snow never got closure about Lucy Gray’s disappearance towards the end of the movie only adds to our understanding of his ruthless actions in the later movies. The moment Katniss volunteered for tribute, it triggered a reminder in Snow of Lucy Gray, a defiant girl who was a threat to the life he built, and wanted her to be eliminated. His inability to move on from the woman he loves, coupled with Katniss serving as a reminder of her, drove Snow to be the paranoid and wicked ruler he was. Katniss, a living image of Lucy, is the daily reminder of what Snow once lost and tried so hard to forget – Lucy symbolizing the innocence that Snow possessed as a young mentor.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the world that led to the beloved Hunger Games series. I loved seeing young Snow, how he was once in love and how much he cared for the people in his life. It was sad to see his slow change but the movie somehow made it understandable and even relatable. How someone who started off so good could eventually end up so ruthless. It emphasized how power and the need to survive can change anyone.