Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is there enough violence in "The Hunger Games" film?

I must admit, I was surprised the first time I heard people complaining about this. True the film is not as graphic as the book, but I felt it got across the same point without being gratuitous. Also, as you already know, I felt the film was perfect and had no interest in nitpicking.

However, considering how central violence is to this story, I think it's a really valid issue to consider. I wrote up a post on the subject over on the FTN forum, and I'm now going to expand a bit here.

First of all, I want to point out that the first book does dwell more on the culture of the games rather than the horrors - these become MUCH more of a central theme in the later books. Yes, the killing is abhorrent, but equally and not as obviously abhorrent is the Capitol's attitude towards the games as entertainment. I think our 21st century brains are really quite good at filling in the blanks of the film's discreet shooting of the killings. Kids are killing each other, the concept alone is enough to strike horror in us. However the way the Capitol watches, bets on and controls the games requires more explanation to make clear - but once made clear, we realize that this, perhaps, is the truest horror of the story. Violence has always been a part of sinful humanity. But making violence into entertainment is, in my humble opinion, the worse sin, and one that western culture has really not seen since the days of the Roman arena.

Then there is another important point. If they'd gotten an R-rating, they wouldn't be able to market it towards teens and if you can't adapt a YA book for young adults then you're not going to make the movie. It really comes down to a simple financial equation and I'd rather we get a slightly watered down first film, then no film at all. Furthermore, if you make the first film too dark, it becomes much harder to market sequels. Look at all of the famous trilogies we know - Star Wars, LOTR, POTC, Spiderman - the stories all get progressively darker. If the first film were as dark as the third in these series, it's unlikely that they would have reached quite the level of popularity that they did.

 But I do sincerely hope they push more of the darkness in the second and third films, and I think they will. Mockingjay is going to be divided into two films, which allows them to keep more of the darker acts in without eating up their PG-13 quota.


Lisa said...

Here's a thought that I first heard from glumPuddle of Narniaweb (you may remember him) that I do agree with. Considering the type of story that this is, it would be completely inappropriate to throw in a bunch of action and violence for the sake of more entertainment for the viewer. Isn't that the whole moral of the story; that the way the Capitol views the Games is completely sick? We're supposed to be sickened by the violence, not enthralled. While I do think that most of the "dumbing down" of the violence was due to getting a lower rating, I do think a lot of it was minimized in order to drive home the horror of it. Note that we don't see a lot of the fighting, but we do see the aftermath quite a bit...white, bled-out faces, an ugly burn, a grotesquely swollen and discolored hand. To have a movie that preaches against the glorification of killing as entertainment and then capitalize on that very thing in order to entice viewers, would really do the story a disservice. It would be flat-out hypocrisy, really.

THAT being said, I do think that Catching Fire and Mockingjay will have an opportunity to be a little grittier simply because the nature of the story does change a bit. Catching Fire is dealing with adults for the majority of the time, and it's more about change and rebellion and trust. And Mockingjay is going to be flat-out a war movie.

Anyway, it will be tricky for the director to balance a need for realism with not glorifying the ugliness we see on screen.

Elenatintil said...

Oh good old glumPuddle! Yes, I think that's a fair thought. People who argue the other side say the opposite, that there is more violence in the the book and it's necessary to really drive home the horror. Obviously I disagree, and I appreciate your point about the fact that we do see the aftermath, which I would agree is more horrific than the actual violence.

Anonymous said...

Not enough violence. The gore by children is what's suppose to be troubling. Without it it's just a bunch of kids running around the woods.