Battle Royale: Thoughts? Perspective?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Phil Florian, Dec 8, 2003.

  1. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    I know this movie has made the cult-circuit rounds. I am kind of frightened by my own reaction to it. It wasn't as gruesome as I thought it would be. That doesn't mean it wasn't bloody, it was (and then some). It doesn't mean it wasn't emotionally shocking, which it was (in parts, a lot) but I guess I didn't feel the indignity that I was led to believe I would feel after watching it. I thought it was a really interesting movie and in parts, well done. It is an interesting update on the Lord of the Flies with kids turning into monsters when the confines of civilization are cast aside. It even had a play on the movie (not the books) finale, with the close up of that child when the sailors come ashore in Lord of the Flies. Instead, we get a quick glimpse of a similar young child, covered with blood and clutching a teddy bear. Yeeesh.

    Anyway, I was looking for some feedback by either people with some thoughts on the film, with some understanding of Japanese culture or some perspectives on the film's history. It was one of those hyped films that while it lived up to some of its expectations, it also wasn't nearly as 'horrible' as I thought it would be. It was no more violent than any typical coming of age slasher that I grew up with in the 80's, with the exception that the kids were the monsters, not some scary faceless creature/being.

    Some scenes were quite funny, too. I can't tell if it was meant to be a tragi-comedy, if a sick one. What was really hilarious at times was that the ultra violence was juxtaposed with kids acting out typical high school hijinx ("You have a crush on me?" type discussions are in force here, with similar discussions about friendships, the future, cliques, etc.). This kind of high school banter could be seen on Buffy or any other WB style teen show. Like Buffy, no matter how hard it got or how terrible the future looked, there was still time to pine for that hunky guy in Math class. Funny and yet scary.

    Just curious what others have thought on this. I looked for any recent discussion but it didn't come back with a typical search, so if this is a big ol' repeat, I am sorry! [​IMG]

    Thanks!

    Phil
     
  2. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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  3. Mark Kalzer

    Mark Kalzer Second Unit

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    ^ ^ I'm not entirely sure if the translation was meant to read like "I think you're cool!", but that's besides the point!

    I saw this with the Carleton University Film Society, and it was introduced to me as a statement on how in Japan, to go from grade 9 to higher education, a student must pass the most extreme of testing to get through, with the incentive that they'd be ruined for life if they don't pass these tests. Many kids would literally kill themselves over the pressures of these tests. I imagine there was also a terrible competitive nature to these tests, perhaps that a limited number only got through. (Sort of like this double cohort which occured in Ontario recently, which really didn't amount to too much in the way of competition)

    So this movie was meant as a statement about the pressure. It's also a reflection of the attitudes towards children of the current age, that they are all rebellious and disrespectful of their authorities. Of course the simple fact is that not all children are rebels, only a few are, but they tend to stick out more than the sweet polite ones. I'm sure all of us can relate to being stereotyped as a kid.
     
  4. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    Wow, the 9th Grade profiency test metaphor...didn't think of that one! Dang, that is neat. This takes it to a new level. Very interesting point. My daughter isn't old enough to do the PT but a neighbor I knew was freaking out at it. And this was a very very smart little guy and he was having stress related stomach cramps, sleep problems, etc. That is one to think about.

    Good point about the young actors. They really sold it, playing it very straight no matter how ludicrous it seemed.

    The part that makes me start to scratch my head more is when the teacher came out to them in the rain. It was almost dream like and eerie and I need to watch it again to pick up more on the teacher's issues.


    Phil
     
  5. Ray_Gootz

    Ray_Gootz Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't consider the dialouge trite in Battle royale. Lines like 'Your the coolest girl in the whole world" is the knid of stuff kids 14 yearso ld say to each other. The dialouge was what sold the movie for me. In Battle royale you belive these are high-school kids killing one another. not 20-sometihng actors reading off "smart" dialouge the screenwriters wished they said in high school.

    For example; I love Buffy more than my prostate. Yet I was watching "Band candy" and buffy was told to sell candy and she goes "Why are you maknig us go all Wily Loman?" a funny line sure. But no 16 year old girl would say that. I love the Scobby gang but to me not one of them will ever be as realstic as the kids in Battle Royale, they acted like kids with guns. In the americanized version the lead female would've become a 16-year old ripley/ Sarah connor clone,, One of the kids would've developed a smart mouth like Spider-man ripping off one-liners to put in the trailer and the psycho girl would've fucked all the guys she killed with her boobs hanging out and her mid-riff exposed while Rob zombie blared in the background. Battle Royale is one of the best movies i've ever seen because it chosses substance over style. You can call the dialouge trite, I jsut call it real. Not everyone talks in one-liners and snappy comebacks.
     
  6. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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  7. RodneyT

    RodneyT Stunt Coordinator

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    if i told you guys i thought the movie was silly, and totally far fetched, would you think i was an idiot?

    thought so.
     
  8. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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  9. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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  10. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Rodney, that isn't a bad impression, but I don't think the film is going for strict realism as far as premise goes. But it does establish the premise early on and unmistakably.

    I'm in no way able to comment on Japanese culture, but my take on it was that it was not only an outstanding examination of the clique and caste system that exists in schools but also of the competitive nature of them. However, instead of a bell curve that permits only some to pass, you have an elimination system where only one survives. As I understand it (all hearsay mind you), the school system in Japan is far more severe than that of the US in terms of pushing for success. This probably makes the point be driven home more directly for them.

    If you see how some of them react, they all parallel what many of us went through back then. Faced with the pressures, some kill themselves. Some take to the cutthroat nature easily, others use their sex appeal, some find devolve into their preestablished social groups for survival. Think about the hero - he comes from nothing (poor family and a dad who kills himself). What weapon does he have? A pot lid. Pretty telling example of what chances he has in life.

    Of course, during all this, they still balance all of the things they had one their minds coming in - what they want out of life, who hates them and who do they hate, who they have a crush on.

    And take a look at their teacher. He obviously cares about some of his students (one a bit too much), but he is obviously a failure. The premise is that the children aren't respecting their elders, but he isn't much of a role model. His wife is leaving him, his daughter doesn't want to see him, and one of his students even attacks him. So even the ideal of the old age isn't some perfect ideal that the kids should mold themselves towards.

    I also really liked the introductory video they are shown. It paints their predicament with a cheery tone that is much like what school is portrayed as - a happy time with fun and game that really determines your future and how you will live. I don't necessarily agree with that, but I could understand that perspective. Much like the attempts to make learning math and english fun in earlier grades, which are really necessary tools of survival later on. Those who don't pay attention or ignore it pay the price later (or die instantly in the film). remember such and such rule and you will survive (like the arbitrary danger zones that they dutifully note on their maps).

    It's a pretty surreal film in concept, but played to the hilt with great style and some nice meat on the bones to think about.
     
  11. RodneyT

    RodneyT Stunt Coordinator

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    based on what you guys have said, i might have to go back and watch it again, and try and understand it a little more.

    will let you know how i go.
     

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