The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes | Francis Lawrence talks deleted scenes and Clemensia Dovecote

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Director Francis Lawrence spoke to us about adapting Suzanne Collins’ mammoth novel and what didn’t make it into the film and one character whose arc changed significantly from the book.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes is the longest book in the franchise. Equally, Francis Lawrence’s film adaptation is the longest one of the five The Hunger Games films, but only by 11 minutes, as he pointed out during our exclusive interview

Obviously, not everything from the book made it into the film and similarly, not everything we spoke to Lawrence about made it into the interview piece we published last week. As well as talking about digging into President Snow’s backstory and returning to Panem, we also spoke about the difficulties of adapting such a huge book. 

“It’s definitely a process. We worked on the script for close to two years before we felt like we were at a place where we thought this is a movie that we want to start prepping,” the director said. 

Lawrence went on to emphasise the significance of “important moments, important characters” as he and Suzanne had to start making “tougher decisions” to shave down Michael Arndt’s first script. 

francis lawrence The hunger games
Director Francis Lawrence on set of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Credit: Lionsgate

“Some things are just going to have to fall away, like Clemensia Dovecote, who plays a bigger part in the book. You just realise, as much as I may like it, it’s not important enough to what the spirit of the story truly is, to take up the time that it’s taking up.”

Clemensia Dovecote will be a more familiar character to fans of the book, but less so for film fans. In both versions, Clemensia and Snow are tasked with coming up with a proposal for significant changes to the Games, such as sponsors for the tributes. Snow ends up writing the proposal by himself, but Clemensia takes equal credit in front of Gaul. 

Obviously, Gaul suspects foul play from the beginning. She has dropped the proposal into a tank of rainbow-coloured snakes and asks Clemensia to retrieve it, saying that the snakes won’t harm her if they’re familiar with her scent, as they would be if she wrote it with Snow. Clemensia is bitten by the snakes and she is immediately hospitalised and in the film, this is where her arc ends and her fate is left open. In the book, she survives her ordeal, but the snake bites leave her horribly disfigured and she later returns to mentor her tribute, Reaper from District 11. 

While no extra scenes featuring Clemensia seem to exist, Lawrence did share what two scenes were left out of the finished film. 

“There’s a scene that we shot in district 12, where he goes to the Covey’s camp for the first time. And it’s a small little scene with Maude Ivory and Barb Azure, Lucy Gray’s not there.”

Fans of the book will recognise this scene well and if we’re lucky, it’ll end up on the extras of the DVD and Blu-Ray. 

“Then there’s a scene that was like, in and out and in and out [of the film]. [It] was a scene where he would say goodbye to Tigris and Grandma’am.”

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in cinemas. 

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