After spending the last few months announcing the various people who make up director Francis Lawrence’s return to the ‘Hunger Games’ movie universe with prequel ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,’ we now have our first look at the film.
Stars Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth are shown in character in what looks like a surprisingly relaxed moment for a ‘Hunger Games’ movie, which usually busy themselves with showing young people battling in a post-apocalyptic environment.
‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ is set 64 years before the story of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen. In this throwback to an earlier era of the Hunger Games, the new narrative follows 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow (Blyth) long before he’s the cunning president of post-apocalyptic nation Panem.
Snow is the last hope for his fading lineage, a once-proud family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol. With the 10th annual Hunger Games fast approaching, the young Snow is alarmed when he is assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Zegler), the girl tribute from impoverished District 12.
But, after Lucy Gray commands all of Panem’s attention by defiantly singing during the reaping ceremony, Snow thinks he might be able to turn the odds in their favor. Uniting their instincts for showmanship and newfound political savvy, Snow and Lucy’s race against time to survive will ultimately reveal who is a songbird and a snake.”
It’s all adapted from ‘Hunger Games’ novelist Suzanne Collins’ 2020 prequel book, and the film, written by Michael Lesslie (working from initial drafts by Collins and Michael Arndt) does promise to be quite different from the other films – while still feeling of a piece.
“It’s completely different stylistically, in terms of design, character, and point of view,” producer Nina Jacobsontells Vanity Fair. “To be able to show a different side of Panem at a different time in its history has been really exciting.”
“This is very much a story about love,” Lawrence says. “It’s this kind of love story set in a different kind of a world in a different time. A very intimate love story.”
But fans of the original book trilogy and the four movies that it spawned won’t be let down in terms of callbacks.
“Suzanne has done such a great job of going back into the mythology and telling a story about the creation of the world,” adds Lawrence. “You get a little background of Katniss. You will obviously get a lot of the background of Snow, the history of the Games, the history of some of the music, where songs like ‘The Hanging Tree’ actually come from.”
The cast also includes Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Hunter Schafer, Josh Andrés Rivera, Ashley Liao, Sofia Sanchez, Mackenzie Lansing, Zoe Renee, George Somner, Isobel Jesper Jones, Lilly Maria Cooper, Max Raphael, Dakota Shapiro, Vaughan Reilly, Nick Benson, Knox Gibson, Amélie Hoeferle and Cooper Dillon.
‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ will be in theaters on November 17th, 2023.