With the release of The Hunger Games just around the corner, the comparisons to the Japanese film Battle Royale are rampant, even we did one here. So in the spirit of debate, the producers of The Hunger Games talked about the two films.
The Hunger Games is the movie adaptation of the bestselling novel by Suzanne Collins. It is followed by the sequels Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
The plot for the film is as follows:
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the governing body, the Capitol, of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as a tribute to save her sister from going in to the ghastly arena. She is joined by Peeta Mellark, a boy she knew who once saved her life.
Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル Batoru rouaiaru) is a 2000 Japanese thriller film directed by Kinji Fukasaku based on the novel of the same name. It was written by Kenta Fukasaku and stars Takeshi Kitano.
The film tells the story of a class of teenagers that are forced by the government to compete in a deadly game, where the students must kill each other in order to win. The program is used to intimidate youths from participating in gangs and rebellions. It takes place in the not so distant future/alternate timeline of Japan where unemployment is rampant and most of the country is in disarray.
The Hunger Games, producer Nina Jacobson talked about the continuing debate over the similarities between the two stories during a press event.
You know I think that they are distinct pieces of material. I know for Suzanne what her inspiration was and her inspiration was the Iraq war along side American Idol, that she was watching both. And experiencing both with her children. And so I know thats where her inspiration came from. […] We are all sharing the same kind of cultural touch points, all going through history together. So it doesn’t surprise me that sometimes they will be points where different source material intersects with eachother.
She goes on to say,
“The fact that people are engaged in talking about the book and the movie is a good thing. And I think the movie certainly stands on its own separate from [Battle Royale] I think it is very much its own property. The book and the movie together, so I don’t think it hurts to be debated.
Director Gary Ross explained that he chose to distance himself from the discussion by focusing only on his film.
I haven’t seen Battle Royale. […] I had never heard of it until I got this job and then when I heard of it, I intentionally stayed away from it. I never wanted to be influenced by it, and I also wanted to be able to say, ‘Look, I’ve never seen this film’ So I made my own film independently. And I suppose I’ll see it now. But I intentionally never wanted to see it or be exposed to it for those exact reasons.
Having read HG and watched BR, I really think the two are only vaguely similar. They have one tiny premise that is similar while the rest is completely different. I liked HG in a completely different way than I liked BR because they are so inherently different.
But I liked that Ross and Jacobson took the time to address the debate that is still going on.
The Hunger Games hits theaters on March 23.