Friday, 27 May 2011

Battle Royale: Book Vs. Film

Unlike most of my favourite book-film conversions, I actually watched Battle Royale the film long before I discovered it was also a book by Koushun Takami. I was already madly in love with the film version when I decided to read it, only to discover that quite a few smaller aspects had been changed.

The film is one of the finest pieces of foreign film making I have ever seen because it does what I personally love in a great horror film and doesn't rely solely on bloodshed and body counts. It has a plot - and a very good one at that.

The basic plot is that a law is passed in Japan that allows the government to kidnap a class of high-school students and force them to kill each other in a 3 day battle with only what they are given in a rucksack - basically because the kids have taken over the schools with their violent and aggressive behaviour. And the genius of the plot is the psychology behind that premise - what would you do? If you were put in that situation would you go on a murderous rampage, kill yourself, or just wander round waiting for somebody else to kill you. Or would you just hope for the best and wait for the 3 days to be up only to learn that you're going to die anyway.

The class are all drugged on a school trip and when they wake they are in a room on an island with a collar strapped round their neck that can blow up at any point. If there is more than one person alive at the end of three days on the abandoned island they now reside on, their collars will all be set off. To add to the drama, there is an extra child who is there "for fun" so watch out for him kids!

The film has a cast of unknown teenagers (yes they actually were teenagers not 20-somethings pretending to be teenagers) and each of them are phenomenal. Some characters choose to kill themselves, some run and hide, some group together to think up a plan of escape and others just wander round killing who they can and accumulating more weapons as they go. As the three days draw on, the children get more and more desperate in their attempts to stay alive (and more gruesome as a result).

The film has bizarre moments of humour, largely thanks to the wacky teacher in charge and such a clever script. It also has my all-time favourite insult - "you ugly shrimpy nit" - though that perhaps is just lost in the translation of it all.

The brilliance of the book vs the film is that it has the chance to explore the childrens' back stories more than the film really was able. It explains why they act the way they act and what caused them to form the alliances they did. It has more character and makes you really invested in their struggles. Each chapter ends with a body count "9 girls, 8 boys remain" etc which really drums in just how much of a bloodbath this is turning out to be. Though the film does that too.

So for this one I would say watch it AND read it and it doesn't matter in which order. They are both amazing.

5 out of 5 FOBLES for both!


LE x


  1. Classic choice! I would tend to agree with what you have written although i would say that the way in which some people are killed in the book is bit more interesting i.e. tricking someone into thinking your on the toilet, but the graphic nature of the film does completely make up for this. The music chosen for the film is also brilliant! but i would advise anyone who reads this to avoid the second film as it trys far to hard.

    My favourite quote (also possibly lost in translation) and please bear in mind that this person is about to die is....'i think your really cool'. Great last words im sure you would agree!

  2. Ha! I forgot about the "You're so cool" line - genius. Oh and lets not forget period girl.