Rallying Behind The Hanging Tree

(Small spoilers for the Hanging Tree sequence in the film)

The Mockingjay score is available to buy today, and after hearing it during the movie, I bought it first thing this morning and it’s been my musical buddy all day. The score, and in particular, The Hanging Tree, is the talk of the fandom, and we couldn’t be happier. With fan-created hastags like #BuyTheHangingTreeOniTunes flying everywhere, the song is rising on the digital download charts. It’s nice to see fans take hold of something from the movie they love and rally behind it. So why ALL THE LOVE?

It’s a great sequence in the MOVIE

From the earliest reviews, this was the scene that everyone was talking about. In a hugely positive way. Even the grumpy reviewers who couldn’t get over the fact that this movie was a Part 1 seemed to like the Hanging Tree scene, which is ironic, because this scene would very likely have never been filmed, much less make a final cut, in a one-movie-only Mockingjay. The way the song moves from Katniss’s thoughtful, quiet singing to a rebel anthem fits so well in the film. We like music that actually fits the film!

And it made a beloved scene in the book EVEN BETTER

It’s the best of both worlds when you can translate a tricky book scene like this so well in the film. This scene was a major call-out of what fans wanted to see in the movie. There’s a lot of ways this could have gone very terribly wrong. But somehow Francis & Co found a way to do it in a way that made it even more moving than it was in the book.

Jennifer Lawrence is singing, y’all

We’ve heard Jennifer Lawrence repeatedly insist that she’s an awful singer, but we all know that’s just some overly modest insecurity talking. She may not have the professionally trained chops of a Broadway singer, but that works for the song. Her bluesy tone and style feels real and honest and just right for that scene. Anything more polished would feel fake and too much like the choreographed propaganda that failed. There’s a definite novelty to hearing Jen sing, yes, but it’s not just because it’s Jennifer Lawrence, the big movie star signing it that we’re so enraptured. It’s the way she sings it – and the arrangement of the piece by the Lumineers and James Newton Howard.

And now we’ve got a tv spot with the song too.

We’re hoping Lionsgate pushes this song for awards contention. Even with all the lack of awards love this franchise gets, we think this song has a shot.

It’s going to be running through our heads for quite a while, but that’s just fine.

JJ

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8 comments

  1. I have to be honest, I hated this scene in the book. Hated it. I thought the whole Katniss as an amazing singer who captivated everybody by the sound of her voice thing was really cringey. It felt like something an inexperienced fanfiction writer would add on ( not only is Katniss beautiful and smart and brave and amazing shot with an arrow and everybody loves her, but even the birds stop to listen to her sing.) I really hoped they would leave that scene out of the movie. I am so, so, so glad that it was included as it is such a beautiful moving scene, and for me, far better executed than in the book.

    1. I agree, well not about the scene in particular, but the whole idea of “Katniss is an amazing singer” (I also felt the same way about “think of when Katniss genuinely moved you” scene). I’m so glad they didn’t push that idea in the movie. Jen sings well, her voice really fits the song, the song, with its simplicity and beat (you can march to it) is PERFECT as a rebel anthem. It’s a case of a lot of good things coming together.

      My only gripe is they didn’t explain the mockingjays this time around either, and it would have fitted well in this scene, leading in to the song.

  2. I agree, this was one of the best scenes in the movie. It felt very natural and would have been unnatural had Jen’s voice been polished and studio sounding. I loved reading that the song was banned because it felt rebellious (and Katniss’ mother forbid her to sing it) and then FLaw used it as a song for the rebels. Perfect.

  3. Francis Lawrence did an increadible job of making the first half of the book cinematic. Hanging Tree just the epitome of great filmmaking. I am so glad he is a part of this franchise!

  4. Definitely loved the Hanging Tree scene. Esp since I was disappointed by the second half of the District 8 scene.

    Do y’all have any theories why they changed the lyrics from “rope” to “hope”? To keep the PG-13 rating?

    1. This was a terrible thought I had, but it would’ve had to be early on in the process because Plutarch talked about the change in the movie.

    2. I think it really was just all about to show us how propaganda works. It seems like such a minor and trivial detail, but little details like that can change a whole conversation. I honestly don’t think that it has anything with the rating – look at all the things they got away with that PG-13 rating in this movie already. Not to mention that Finnick literally has a line that says ‘he wishes they were all dead’, so it’s not like there are no even more clearer suicide implications already.

      1. ITA, also Yellow Flicker Beat specifically mentions “my necklace is of rope” and that played right after the last scene. I think it’s completely in-character for Plutarch to change “rope” to “hope”, certainly the book version is almost ridiculously cheerful at times, at least publicly. And while the movie version is a bit more serious, it does seem MJ movie tried to make him closer to his book version than the CF movie did. (Apparently, the comment Effie makes about wanting coffee was originally meant as a Plutarch line, as it is in the book, but given to Effie after PSH’s untimely passing.)

        But speaking of Yellow Flicker Beat, I do find it ironic that the polished, rather Capitolish song that was MEANT to be the featured song that defined this movie, has been passed over by the less sophisticated but more heartfelt Hanging Tree song.

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