How the Song “The Hanging Tree” Links The Hunger Games and “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”

Everett Collection / Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection

Watch out! This post contains spoilers.

This November, audiences are heading back to Panem with the release of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” the prequel to the original Hunger Games movie series. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” based on the novel of the same name, is set 64 years before the original films, which tell the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl living in District 12 whose life is forever changed when she volunteers for the Games. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” focuses on an earlier Hunger Games in a much younger Panem, when a different District 12 resident, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), is chosen for the Games. One other thing that connects them: both women sing the song “The Hanging Tree.”

If your Hunger Games lore is a little rusty, we can help. Lawrence’s Katniss sang “The Hanging Tree” in full in the “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” released in 2014. The song became something of a protest anthem across Panem, though it’s deeply tied to Katniss’s District 12 identity. Zegler sings a new version in this November’s “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” and Lionsgate announced it’ll share her version of the track on Oct. 20. Ahead, we’re breaking down just what the song is about, its significance in the world of The Hunger Games, and both women’s renditions.

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