Hunger Games, The: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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Not suitable under 13; parental guidance to 14 (violence, scary scenes, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hunger Games, The: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
  • a review of Hunger Games, The: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 November 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 13–14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 15 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Hunger Games, The: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and violence
Length: 157 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In the Dark Days, three years before the first annual ‘Hunger Games’ begins, a small Coriolanus Snow and his young cousin scrounge for scraps of food on the dangerous streets of the war-torn Capitol. Following the death of his father, Coriolanus’ family is left with next to nothing and must do all they can to continue to pass as fine society. As he grows into a young man, Coriolanus (Tom Blythe) is at the top of his class at the Academy and has distinguished himself in every way possible, despite the efforts of the headmaster (Peter Dinklage) to consistently derail his accomplishments. During the very ceremony in which Coriolanus is meant to receive a coveted scholarship, along with much needed funding, an announcement is made that changes everything. People have stopped watching the Games but the Gamemaker (Viola Davis) is determined that ‘the show’ must go on, so, for the first time in the games’ ten year history, there will be mentors. Each member of the Academy’s graduating class is assigned a ‘tribute’ from one of the 12 districts and told to present their tribute to the world, to make the audience care about them and ensure that the masses will, once again, be watching as the twenty-four tributes (two children from each district) fight to the death. In a last ditch effort to sabotage Coriolanus, the headmaster matches him with the petite female tribute from District 12, a kind-hearted outcast called Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler). Lucy Gray knows she can’t win but has no intention of going quietly. She has a beautiful voice and uses the power of song to share her truth, a truth that many, even in the Capitol, can relate to. As Lucy’s fate is tied to his own success, Coriolanus does everything he can to help her and she slowly begins to trust him. Lucy’s courage and charm, along with the fact that she saves his life, brings out the best in Coriolanus who does whatever it takes to keep her safe while attempting to keep up the facade to protect his family and friends. Lucy wins the games because of the help she receives from Coriolanus and because her bravery and defiance inspires the spectators. She is then sent back to District 12, while Coriolanus is banished for cheating. As he rises up the ranks as a Peacekeeper, he will do whatever it takes to succeed and to get back into the good graces of Capitol society but when his best friend, who only wants to make a difference, begins to get involved with rebel forces, Coriolanus betrays him and, in the process, loses the one thing he was willing to risk it all for.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Poverty; Governmental control; Death; Cruelty to children; Betrayal; The nature of power; Politics and Insatiable ambition.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • A man is shown cutting off the leg of a dead body; someone who had frozen to death in the streets.
  • Coriolanus’s father is killed by a trap in the forest in District 12.
  • One of the tributes is bitten by a bat and develops an open sore that becomes infected, causing him to attack others.
  • A group of tributes look set to kill Coriolanus until Lucy says something to stop them.
  • After being antagonized by a Capitol girl, a tribute smashes a glass bottle and jabs the jagged end through the girl’s throat. She bleeds out on the ground in front of everyone.
  • Coriolanus is told that he must, “use her (Lucy) or else he will end up dead in the trees like his father”.
  • A character must put her hand into an enormous container filled with writhing, poisonous snakes. The snakes attack her hand, biting her, and she falls backwards onto the floor, unconscious with potentially fatal wounds.
  • Massive explosions rock the arena and the roof collapses around the tributes and their mentors. Coriolanus is pinned to the ground by a piece of falling debris.
  • Peacekeepers and guards begin shooting at tributes who try to escape.
  • A rat vomits up poison and blood.
  • Tributes are told to stand on their marks, or they will be shot.
  • A tribute that tried to escape is suspended in the arena with his battered body displayed for all to see.
  • Tributes fight, stab and bludgeon each other to death, often with swords or spears.
  • A character gets a pitchfork shoved through his neck.
  • A character chases others with an axe.
  • A character gets sliced and stabbed as they try to drag themselves through a door.
  • A drone crashes into someone and smashes a bottle of water meant for a tribute.
  • Vultures fly down into the arena and begin to pick at and eat the body of a boy.
  • A character threatens to cut out someone’s tongue.
  • A character chases others while brandishing a sword.
  • Coriolanus is sliced in the shoulder with a sword and is told that, “the songbird is next on my list”.
  • Coriolanus bashes another character to death.
  • A character is foaming at the mouth and chasing Lucy. He is clearly intent on killing her. She runs out into the arena to escape him and is nearly cornered and caught when Coriolanus sends drones with water to crash into him. They knock him off balance and he falls onto some rocks below the ledge where he was trying to reach Lucy.
  • A team of tributes tries to kill a girl with knives, they ultimately stab her in the back with a pitchfork and then through the stomach. She falls backwards off the wall and lands near the body of another boy.
  • Lucy Gray slams a girl’s hand in a gate door while they try to stab her with a pitchfork.
  • Lucy poisons water and a girl dies from drinking it.
  • A girl stabs a boy through the chest.
  • Characters try to stab Lucy with spears by pushing them through the vent where she is hiding.
  • Tributes are attacked by thousands of poisonous snakes as they seek out and destroy each individual, attacking, biting, strangling and covering them with their twisting, slithering bodies.
  • A Peacekeeper is killed by a rebel.
  • A man is hung while a woman screams that he is innocent. He cried out for her to run in the moments before he was killed and the air is filled with the piercing cries of the Mockingjays mimicking the horrified screams of the woman and the desperate shouts of the man.
  • A man shoves a woman in the chest.
  • Coriolanus punches a man and a bar fight ensues.
  • Two characters are shot and killed.
  • Three men are simultaneously hung and their desperate screams, mimicked by the Mockingjays, fill the air.
  • A snake attacks and bites Coriolanus.
  • Coriolanus shoots at Lucy. When he appears to miss her, he shoots at the Mockingjays in the trees and they fall out of the sky while he screams.
  • A character expresses extreme regret for the fact that he had a hand in originating the Hunger Games and for the fact that he now has the blood of countless generations on his hands.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • As Coriolanus walks through the Gamemaker’s laboratory, he is greeted by numerous creatures and monster-like creations in large bottles and jars. Some are quite creepy looking. The Gamemaker herself has a wild, evil and slightly unhinged personality, along with crazy hair and intense, different coloured eyes, which may be unsettling for some children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Two small children are out on the streets at night collecting food scarps in the dark when they are set upon by a menacing dog who looks set to attack them. They manage to distract it and escape but both children are terrified and shaking.
  • The scenes in which the young tributes kill each other in all manner of brutal ways would also be deeply distressing to some viewers, especially those scenes in which the youngest tributes are killed.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Some of the previously mentioned scenes are likely to upset children in this age group.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Lucy Gray’s boyfriend back home “cheated” on her with the mayor’s daughter.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Coriolanus and Lucy share some tender moments and eventually kiss.
  • Coriolanus is shown on occasion with his shirt off as he is coming out of the shower or being stitched up.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • The headmaster drinks repeatedly from a hip flask.
  • Characters drink in taverns and at a reception.
  • Lucy Gray admits to a crowd that she gave up dinking when she was 12.
  • A character uses morphling (morphine).
  • A character takes what he believes to be morphling, but it is poison, and he dies as a result.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Kiss my ass
  • Savages (as an insult).

In a nutshell

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a dramatic adventure based on the prequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The film features a diverse cast and some excellent special effects but lacks some of the heart of the original stories. It is best suited to teen and adult audiences and likely to be enjoyed by fans of the series.

The main messages from this movie are that trust is more important than love; that (even in the most challenging of circumstances) it is possible to stay true to who we are; and that, sometimes, it is what we love most that destroys us.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Courage
  • Resilience
  • Ingenuity
  • Compassion
  • Self-reliance.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Dishonesty and claiming what is not rightfully yours.
  • Pretending to be something that you are not.
  • Putting ambition before friendship, loyalty or love.
  • Using violence to punish violence.