Life is a game…but whose game?
I feel like I am jumping on the bandwagon. Right now, everywhere I go in the online community, everyone is talking about The Hunger Games and more than a few also mentioned its similarity to Battle Royale. Both stories were mainly about a group of teenagers who were trapped in the deadly game orchestrated by the government. They had to fight each other to the death until only one victor remained.
On the surface, both titles looked almost identical. And if I didn’t care too much about trivial details, they had the same story in term of structure. What separated Battle Royale from The Hunger Games was how each title viewed the game. In Battle Royale, the attention was paid heavily to internal and interpersonal struggle of the characters. But The Hunger Games was about the slaves trying to rise up against their masters. It is important for you to know that I wrote this discussion based on Battle Royale manga and The Hunger Games movie only (I haven’t read the novel).
Battle Royale was a character experiment which showcased human in their worst and best forms
Battle Royale did not give much actual details about the government or the politics. The only thing the manga told us was that the game was created by the military government. At times, the politics felt like just an excuse to bring this group of characters together. The real juicy part was what happened to each character. Battle Royale focused on experiment with human lives; how far human would be willing to go in time of crisis, what human was capable of when the rules were lifted and how hard it was to remain civilized when life was at stake. We got to see the once normal students did the unthinkable inhumane things. It was bloody and ugly. Battle Royale showcased human in their worst and best forms. The whole story revolved around the characters and how they dealt with the game.
The Hunger Game was a power struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed
The Hunger Games, on the other hand, spent a lot more time describing the politics behind the game and the events leading up to it. It was not the character experiment like Battle Royale; all players were well prepared for the game. The Hunger Games was about how the government tried to control the citizen of the twelve districts with the 24 tributes being the representatives of each districts. They even tried to control the hope of people using the game. During the fights, the tributes were not as thoroughly studied in the way the Battle Royale did. But the tributes, mainly Katniss, fought to remain themselves and to be free of the oppressive power of the Capitol. By winning the love from the general audience, Katniss and Peeta gained leverage with the government and managed to shake the foundation of the Capitol’s power. This was where the movie reminded me of another movie ‘Gladiator’ in which a general-turned slave became more powerful than the emperor of Rome by winning the love from the crowd.
The bottom line is that Battle Royale and The Hunger Games are two different entities. Despite the similar structure, the two titles were very different in terms of concepts and ideas. I just watched The Hunger Games and thought it was a solid film. What do you think? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts here.
p.s. You might also want to check out the similar post over at Black Strawberry