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The beautiful build-up to ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’

| Thursday, November 16, 2023

Marissa Panethiere | The Observer

The day is almost here. On Friday, the movie adaptation of “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” will arrive in U.S. theaters. For those unaware, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a prequel to the famous “Hunger Games” trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. The prequel focuses on Coriolanus Snow, the eventual dictator of the country of Panem. It follows Coriolanus as he guides District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird through the 10th Hunger Games and beyond.

Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike (which has now ended), there had been no promotional activity for the movie until about three weeks ago after the film landed an interim agreement with the union allowing promotions to begin. Due to the agreement, fans recently have begun to see the movie’s stars on red carpets and interviews.

The first of the promotions that came out after the interim agreement was actually a song. Olivia Rodrigo joined other famous musicians like Taylor Swift, Lorde, The Weekend and Coldplay on the list of famous artists to have a song on the soundtrack for a “Hunger Games” movie. In her track titled “Can’t Catch Me Now,” Rodrigo sings from the perspective of a vengeful Lucy Gray Baird. I won’t share too much for fear of spoilers, but the song beautifully conveys how Coriolanus will never be rid of Lucy Gray. Rodrigo’s crooning vocals and the song’s prolonged build-up to its climax beautifully enhance this message. “Can’t Catch Me Now” is a great song, and I’d recommend it even if you are not a fan of the “Hunger Games” franchise.

The real highlight of the promotional activities, however, has been the red carpets. So far there have been three — Berlin, London and Los Angeles — and the outfits of Rachel Zegler, who plays Lucy Gray, have definitely been the highlight of each night. Each of Zegler’s outfits was connected to an outfit seen in the original trilogy. At the Berlin premiere, her outfit resembled the flaming wedding dress worn by Katniss before the 75th Hunger Games. Zegler paid homage to Katniss’ dress during the Quarter Quell’s Tribute Parade at the London premiere. During the final red carpet in Los Angeles, she channeled the wedding dress worn by Annie Cresta in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.” Zegler stunned in each outfit, and it was wonderful that she wanted to build such a strong connection to the original movies during each premiere.

Zegler’s stunning outfits aside, the red carpets have been a cause for excitement for other reasons as well. At the London premiere, both Josh Andrés Rivera and Hunter Schafer stunned in gold — another homage to the original trilogy. In Los Angeles, fans were also able to see some other familiar faces — such as Jena Malone and Jacqueline Emerson, who played Joanna Mason and Foxface, respectively — walk the red carpet. Of course, no one can discount the queen Suzanne Collins, who wore a lovely green outfit which (perhaps coincidentally or perhaps not) matched the book cover of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”

The amount of excitement new and old “Hunger Games” fans have as they eagerly await for for “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is unreal. Both on the internet and in real life, I am surrounded by fans who are sharing their enthusiasm for the series itself and this new movie. By tomorrow, the world of the “Hunger Games” will once again be available to us on the big screen, and the long wait will be over.

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