Strange things did happen here…

Hi everyone!  So, that was another fun hiatus.  Since our last episode:

  • I moved to another state.
  • I’ve made it a project to check out all the area coffee places and review them on FourSquare (and also hopefully find a new favorite haunt or two).
  • Put together another awesome Abby (from NCIS) outfit for Halloween.
  • Remembered it was time for my other favorite Fall/Winter tradition: Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  • Joined a yoga class in hopes of strengthening my zen-munity system to fight the S.A.D. bug.
  • Resigned myself to the post-Halloween $tart of Chri$tma$ adverti$ing.  Hope y’all are having a happy Black Friday Eve!  Who else has visions of Walmart sales dancing in their heads? (/sarcasm)  Nah, but seriously, I hope everyone has a happy and delicious Thanksgiving.
  • Saw Mockingjay: Part 1.

And it’s that last point that finally put me back in the blogging mood — specifically, how they interpreted “The Hanging Tree” song.  If you haven’t seen the movie but don’t mind an audio preview, check out this bit from the soundtrack:

For those who’ve read the book, don’t worry — they do explain the change from “rope” to “hope.”

I spoke briefly, in my “Everything is Music” post, about the role of folk songs in the Hunger Games series, specifically Rue’s lullaby in book 1 and “The Hanging Tree” in book 3.  Now, while I wasn’t totally a fan of how movie 1 interpreted “Deep in the Meadow” (they could’ve at least given us the complete first verse; though, there is this bonus track by Sting.  Eh, it’s sweet, but it sounds too generic to me), I immediately loved Jennifer Lawrence’s performance of “The Hanging Tree” in Mockingjay.  It really sounded like it could be an Appalachian folk song, and I liked the combination of eerie matter-of-factness and defiance in the tone.  It reminds me a bit of “The Highwayman” — the Alfred Noyes poem as sung by Loreena McKennitt — or “Which Side Are You On,” a 1931 protest song written by the wife of a Harlan County, KY union organizer (this was the version I heard originally, on one of my Pandora stations).

On a much more chilling note, Lindsey Weber of Vulture connects the song to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” which is based on a 1938 poem about the lynching of two black men, and which became a Civil Rights anthem in the 50s and 60s.

Then a friend directed me to another version of “The Hanging Tree,” a fan arrangement by Adriana Figueroa (she has an even more gorgeous interpretation of Rue’s Lullaby. Seriously, it’s amazing):

See, now that’s the kind of melody I could imagine charming the mockingjays into silence and bringing Pollux to tears, as Katniss describes in the book.  And where the movie version sounds like a protest song — appropriate for the rallying-the-districts angle — Figueroa’s song is more of a ballad, like “The Cuckoo” and “One I Love.”  The song’s speaker in the movie version (Weber sees this as true of the song in general) could be addressing many people, calling not just his love, but his neighbors to defy the authorities even if it means risking death.  The tone is defiant and encouraging.  Figueroa’s version is more bittersweet, more despairing, with the dead rebel (did he really murder three people? Or was that just an excuse the authorities made up?) calling for his beloved to follow him into the afterlife, away from the suffering they’d been through.  Just like Finnick at the beginning of the movie, knowing Annie was in the Capitol, saying he wished she was dead so Snow couldn’t torture her.

I was a little disappointed they didn’t give the back-story re: how Katniss learned the song and what it means to her, but maybe there’ll be something in Part 2.  In the meantime, there’s this fan-made mini-film (about 12 min).  The same group also made a film about Haymitch’s Quarter Quell, and a series of videos about Annie and Finnick.

What do you think of the movies’ take on the folk songs of District 12?  How did you originally imagine them, and have you heard any other good fan versions?


  1. I like the second version…very old English…glad to know you are settling in…I saw INTERSTELLAR…some of the dialogue over MY head….but visually fabulous and lots to think about….Lily

    • I could’ve sworn I’d posted my comment as a reply, but it looks like wordpress made it a separate comment. Sorry it took me a while to notice that ^_^;;

      I’ve been hearing that Interstellar is good, and my brother wants to see it. It definitely looks intriguing.

  2. I haven’t read The Hunger Games books, but I’ve seen all the movies with my kids. Mockingjay was as good as the second one which I loved. I don’t usually read young adult novels, but I’m going to have to read this trilogy. I hear it’s a good one for writers to read to see how well the author executed the story.

    Thanks for stopping by my site. I appreciate it.

    • Thank you for stopping by here! And yes, I think Suzanne Collins did an awesome job with the Hunger Games story. I don’t often see stories written in first-person-present-tense, but I thought it worked perfectly with the fast-paced action.

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