The recent soaring popularity of the novel and movie The Hunger Games has led film critics and underground cult followers to comment on its similarity to the movie Battle Royale. Also based on a novel, Battle Royale came out over a decade ago and bears a number of striking similarities to The Hunger Games. Both take place in the future, at a time when society has fallen to shambles, and in both, teenagers are forced to fight to the death until only one survives. The children must do whatever they can to survive, but only some are willing to make the fight as gruesome as necessary.
Both movies are trying to depict the horrors of young brutality, but there is more to The Hunger Games than what first meets the eye. Battle Royale makes its message clear through extreme violence, but The Hunger Games keeps everything PG-13 and appropriate for its young adult audience. However, the differences between the two stories are not solely as a result of their respective ratings. After all, Suzanne Collins didn't skimp on the gory details when writing books.
The most notable difference between the two involves how the media is portrayed, and this is where the two films really part ways. The media is virtually nonexistent in Battle Royale, whereas in The Hunger Games, it plays a central role and is an impressive force to be reckoned with. The poor families in the Districts are forced to watch the Games, and they do so with hope and trepidation, desperate to see if their loved ones have survived. It is these mandatory viewings coupled with the abject pleasure the wealthy get from watching them that really stabs at your heart. The idea that people can enjoy watching children murder each other is sickening, as it should be, and that is an integral part of the message Collins is trying to portray.