The Hunger Games (2012) vs. Battle Royale (2000)
After the immense success of The Hunger Games recently, I knew that I had to go see it. Its student based, fight to the death concept is one that I’ve seen done so impressively before, in the 2000 film Battle Royale. I hoped that The Hunger Games wouldn’t try to copy many of Battle Royale’s concepts, but try and stand apart from the Japanese cult classic.
Although The Hunger Games has turned into a huge Box Office hit, doing impressively well all around the world, it provides a lot more than any awful Twilight film ever could.
The film, I thought, was beautiful. It doesn’t incorporate a standard Hollywood narrative, primarily because it was based on a book, but also because infamous director Gary Ross, also director of one of my favourites, ‘Big’, directed it. Gary was able to incorporate the destructive fantasy element portrayed in the novel into his adaptation. The saturated colours, portrayal of the crazed wealth and the national broadcast element makes The Hunger Games develop a certain depth that Battle Royale does not incorporate.
Battle Royale, if you haven’t watched it, is an absolute cult classic, and every horror fans favourite. The film itself sees a class of students kidnapped and forced to kill each other under the ‘Battle Royale’ regime. The film, like a lot of Japanese horror, is brutal. It is filled to the brim with blood and gore and isn’t afraid to explore creative killing methods.
The brutality of the film is what makes Battle Royale. If director Kinji Fukasaku worried about attracting a younger audience, and removed the majority of blood and violence from the film, like what The Hunger Games did, it would retract from the point of the film; that being a fight to the death is obviously going to be vicious.
I worry that The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, took a lot more than inspiration from the 1999 Battle Royale novel. While it was clear that she Americanised the storyline and plot, it’s a little bit disheartening that the success of the film could disregard Battle Royale as the film that introduced the concept.
I feel that The Hunger Games is basically Battle Royale, with a sugar-coated surface. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed the film, but then again is this just another remake, catered to the needs of a Westernised audience in an attempt to make a quick buck? I for one am still undecided.