A ninth grade class is sent to an island and forced to kill each other in three days until there is just one left standing, under the revolutionary act Battle Royale.
This is one of my favourite foreign films. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, also known for Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) Battle Royal is poignant and controversial.
It was banned in many countries after its release in 2000 when it caused controversy among the Japanese government. It was branded “crude and tasteless”. Its test screening in America also received a negative response due to the closeness of the Columbine High School Massacre. The reaction of the Japanese to the film is closely compared to that of the British outrage at the release of A Clockwork Orange. Many people considered Battle Royale to be simply mindless, gratuitous violence.
The film holds a poignant meaning for director Fukasaku, who developed a hatred for the Japanese government when he was fifteen years old and working as a factory hand during World War 2. The factory came under fire, and the remaining children had to dispose of the corpses of their peers. Battle Royale is symbolic of the government’s control over its people, and Fukasaku himself stated that it is a warning to the young.
Its such a deep, meaningful film that I personally believe the violence is justifiable. Its powerful and moving, with some fantastic young performances. Its filmed in such a way that it looks and feels much older than it is, and I was surprised that it was made in the 21st century. The darkness and grittiness of the scenes give it a strong atmosphere, setting the scene nicely. The entire film is dark, with a bluish tinge that makes it cold and uninviting, which aids the sense of fear and dread that one assumes the children would be feeling.
A very powerful film, one that you either love or hate! Definitely worth watching in my opinion, and its a great example of foreign cinema. I still firmly believe that the Japanese are more adept at creating powerful, poignant films than Hollywood, and this is a fantastic example.