Viddy Well Hot Take: Why America Needs a Battle Royale Remake Right Now…
Article by Anthony Cleveland
First off, a carbon copy American remake is never needed (*looks at Spike Lee's Old Boy remake*). However, with today’s political climate and youth leading the charge for change, I believe it is the perfect time to revisit some of the themes presented in Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale.
Battle Royale was released in Japan in 2000, barely one year after the Columbine massacre. With the tragedy still fresh in American’s minds, the film was screened briefly in the States before being shelved for over a decade, finally releasing in early July of 2011, close in proximity to another historic tragedy. In a post-9/11 world, with the memory of other senseless school shooting still in our thoughts, it was impossible to watch the film and not connect it to the senseless violence that too many children had experienced in their own schools.
I’m not trying to drum up any gun control debate with this article, so when I say this I mean it broadly: since Columbine, nationally, we as a country have not done anything to make schools safer for our children. There is no federally secured funding to mandate certain safety precautions at each school to make them all uniformly safe. There is no added restrictions to prohibit unhinged individuals from purchasing a firearm. There is absolutely no sweeping legislation to insure every one of our children is safe from catching a bullet while reading Cat in the Hat. It truly feels like adults have turned their back on children to pursue their own interests.
That out of the way. Let me connect that to Battle Royale.
Fukasaku found his passion for this film by reflecting on his time as a young teenager when he was forced to work in a munitions factory during WW2. The factory consisted largely of youths around the same age. Fukasaku commented that their small thin arms were essential in placing fuses in artillery shells. The factory was bombed during an allied attack and several of his young coworkers were killed in the blast. After the attack, the officers in charged forced the young living survivors to dig through the rubble and bury the dead.
Fukasaku stated that was the moment when he learned the government cared very little about the youth and a deep hatred for all adults set root.
The Battle Royale program doesn’t make and sense. It doesn’t make sense to those participating in it, let alone the viewer and that’s largely the point. We see the world from the same confused POV of the children. We’re never allowed to see the bigger picture that the adults may have running. All we see is senseless violence with children because of the adults in charge.
I’m sure there’s many ways these concepts and themes could be explored again in film, but I think to be effective the film needs to be blunt and unwavering in its depiction of on-screen violence. The original Battle Royale was a little campy and over the top with its death scenes. If it was to be remade (which let's face it: it won’t) it needs to show the children fighting back against the adults and coming together. It should be more of the kids rallying together to topple the overall system vs. focusing entirely on a kids killing kids.
I do think there is some extreme art coming our way from this upcoming generation. They are going to let us have it, and I welcome it. I don’t necessarily hope it’s a Battle Royale remake, but I do hope we see frustrations from these situations vented on screen.
What do you think? Is America in need of something akin to Battle Royale? Is a violent film the answer to violent times? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always remember to viddy well!