For the most part, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is a pretty faithful adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ 2020 novel. The new movie brings the prequel story to life on the big screen, detailing how Coriolanus Snow became a villainous tyrant six decades after his fateful encounter with the musical tribute Lucy Gray. It’s a familiar tale for anyone who’s read the book, but there are a few key details that the movie changes up.
Spoiler alert: This post discusses the ending of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes. There really aren’t too many massive changes from page to screen, but a lot of important character details aren’t as fleshed out as some readers may have expected. It’s understandable — the movie doesn’t have as much time as the book did to really dive into all the side characters and their own specific motivations and backstories.
But, having said that, it was impossible for fans of the prequel novel not to notice when one scene was altered, or one character was behaving differently. There’s even one key figure who’s basically erased from the movie entirely.
It’s not to say that the Hunger Games prequel left fans hungry, but there are a few choices that definitely stuck out to readers.
1. Ma Plinth Was Almost Entirely Removed
Sejanus’ mother, known affectionately as Ma, was a major support to his character in the novel. She constantly sent sandwiches and pastries to Sejanus, Coriolanus, and the tributes, and after Sejanus died, she and her husband took Coriolanus in, unaware that he was responsible for their son’s death. It’s a heartbreaking twist in the book, but one that’s quickly glossed over in the movie, as Ma only briefly appears for a brief moment.
2. Arachne’s Funeral Was Cut
The movie does show the particularly cruel mentor Arachne getting killed by her tribute after taunting her, but the subsequent funeral scene that was a pretty big deal in the book isn’t shown. The book describes how the slain tribute Brandy’s body was paraded around Arachne’s funeral, emphasizing just how much Capitol residents view the tributes as nothing more than animals.
3. Lucy’s Kills Were Switched
The movie shows District 11 tribute Dill dying after drinking the poisoned water Lucy left out as a trap. But in the books, it’s District 8 tribute Wovey who dies from Lucy’s pooisoned water. The book describes Dill as dying from tuberculosis shortly after the Games begin.
4. Clemensia’s Story Was Cut Short
For many book readers, Clemensia was a fan favorite. But the movie drastically cut down her role. The film shows Clemensia putting her hand into Dr. Gaul’s snake pit alone, rather than doing it with Coriolanus in the book. The movie also doesn’t show the full aftermath of Clemensia’s snake bite, which left her with severe neurological damage in addition to its physical toll.
5. Sejanus Discovered Coriolanus’ Betrayal
The movie makes Sejanus’ death even more brutal, as he hears the Jabberjay recording of Coriolanus selling him out to the Capitol during his hanging. In the book, he is executed unaware that his best friend is the one who stabbed him in the back.
6. Capital Viewers Had To Force Gaul To Declare A Winner
The final moments of the 10th Hunger Games are also altered from page to screen. The book has Lucy quickly declared the victor after she’s the only tribute to survive Gaul’s snakes, but in the movie, Gaul refuses to name a winner even when Lucy is the only surviving tribute. It’s not until the entire crowd starts shouting for Lucy to be named the victor that Gaul finally gives in.
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