Thursday, 3 December 2009
Disaster Year 2000: Battle Royale
The last complete film by Kinji Fukasaku, based on a novel by Koushun Takami. A class outing for problematic teens is hijacked by the government to serve as the latest victims of the Millennial Educational Reform Act. Pupils are tagged with explosive collars, armed, and cast out onto a deserted island where they must fight until only one is left. This action is categorised as a last ditch attempt to keep order in a country apparently ravaged by teenage delinquency following an economic meltdown.
Modelled on the director's own bleak teenage experience working in a World War II munitions factory, Battle Royale displays a profound mistrust of adults. Fukasaku's sympathies lie firmly with the children. The grown ups in Battle Royale are damaged and ineffectual, prioritising their own needs over their offspring's, creating what they believe is a savage generation. Rather than modify their own behaviour they create a blunt force lottery to scare the young into compliance. In contrast to adult perception, the children here are a meek, romantic assortment, disinclined to violence. Alliances are formed, and uneasy but functioning communities established. The tournament is revealed as a sham, needing to draft psychopaths in order to ratchet up the body count.