Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Everyone plays the game with the weapons they've got

My favourite scene from Battle Royale isn't the bit where a boy defends himself with a pot lid, or the moment when a dead man gets up and casually walks across the room to answer his phone. It comes early, when the students wake up in a disused classroom and are given a lesson on the rules of the game. At first they're skeptical. They think it's a joke, that they don't really have to kill each other. But then their teacher murders two of them for annoying him. They watch a cheery instructional video which explains that only one student is permitted to leave the island, that it's survival of the fittest and that most of them won't make it. They are called up one by one on the register and step forward. They are given a bag of supplies and a random weapon. Some weapons aren't as good as others. Some are given a machine gun. Others a sickle. Some a paper fan. The bag is thrown sharply at their head and they run off into the island to fend for themselves. In this moment they have to decide what they're going to do. Do they play the game, hide until it's over, try to escape, try to rebel? There are only a few things they can do trapped on this island, and there are some people aiming at their head. Some are given the best weapons from the start, others have to steal or acquire them. With perseverance even the worst weapons can be put to good use. Those that choose to hide will find a cave and wait for the game to be over, until they win or the bomb on their neck explodes. Others try to find a way out across the sea or over cliffs. There are a few that sit down and choose to play a different game, to try and take the whole thing down and win in their own way. Everyone plays the game with the weapons they've got.

Those who complained about the ultra-violent blood-spattered teenagers just weren't thinking allegorically enough. Who wins in the end? Not the ones with the biggest guns, but the people who trusted someone and stuck together. Nice, that. It is pretty violent though. Especially the bit with the sickle.


  1. Excellent analysis....
    You've sold me on this film.

  2. Ooh, not heard of it but it sounds like my kind of evening in. God, that sounds terrible.

  3. Great flick. Some of the deaths were practically tragic Shakespearean, brought on by deceit and the inability to trust someone.

    You gotta love Japan, our most absurd movies don’t even come close to their level of unnerving lunacy.

  4. This is definitely one of those movies that I discovered a couple years ago and it's never left the forefront of my mind... I love it... I love the classroom scene especially when the teacher tells a certain student to shut up... it's awesome and without doubt one of the best survival films of all time.

  5. Could watch this movie over and over again. Probably one of the best movies I've seen the last ten years.

    Battle Royale is like life itself. We all struggle to survive, with whatever means that are given to us. Some have better means than others, and some know how to use them better than others. (Wow that's deep)

    Lastly, Beat Takeshi as the tormented teacher = <3

  6. Thanks for the follow! ^^ I'll follow you back, so I can keep track of your more than mildly interesting movie reviews >v<

  7. Andrew - Thanks.

    Titus - I think everyone likes Japanese ultra-violence on a evening in.

    Drake - I liked the occasional sweeping classical music. Made the whole thing a bit more demented.

    Gman - Not a nice man really, but good aim.

    Bibi - Allegories are always deep. Like a pond. A very deep pond. Of metaphorical fish.