In the best-selling young-adult book, The Hunger Games, teens literally murder each other as part of a government-sponsored reality TV show. When Hollywood announced, months ago, that it was planning a PG-13 adaptation of the film, critics wondered how filmmakers would tone down the book's brutal violence without losing the resonance of the story. Fast-forward to March, 2012: The movie has snagged a PG-13 in America, but British censors felt the need to slash seven seconds of blood and gore to achieve a comparable rating — prompting a new debate: Will the movie be too violent for the book's younger fans?
Young kids should stay away: "There is a difference between gratuitous violence for the sake of violence and 'necessary violence,'" says Snarky Amber at Mama Pop. The Hunger Games' battles fall into the latter category; they're crucial to conveying the story's themes about "government, liberty, and revolution." Still, "it's one thing to read about horrible violence, and another to see it." You can bet some scenes will be "hard for younger viewers to handle." You'd be wise to leave kids 12 and under at home with a babysitter.
"Is The Hunger Games too violent for your kids?"
But the film doesn't glamorize the violence: The film could easily have earned an R rating if its bloody battle scenes had been shot traditionally, says Eric Goldman at IGN. Instead, director Gary Ross wisely employed a shaky, handheld, pseudo-documentary camera technique "to make things more abstract." The audience sees only flashes of weapons, and brief glimpses of blood splattering. Screams are left to speak for themselves, "[conveying] the horror of what is happening without showing it in graphic detail."
"The Hunger Games review"
Still, moviegoers will be shocked by the violence: The film's marketing has featured zero footage of the actual Hunger Games, concealing the most violent aspects of the film from the public, says Ben Fritz at the Los Angeles Times. Imagine "a Transformers trailer without any robots." The staggering tracking numbers indicate that the film's broad appeal extends well beyond those familiar with the books. And because the movie trailers are downplaying the potentially alienating violence, a large portion of the audience "could be surprised by the movie's violent content, particularly if they bring children." They should be warned.
"Hunger Games ads coyly don't show the Hunger Games"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would it take for humans to build a settlement on Mars?
- Chuck Hagel was a huge mistake
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- 10 things you need to know today: November 24, 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Want to eliminate the scourge of frat culture? Lower the drinking age.
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
Subscribe to the Week