Friday 15 August 2008

Battle Royale - The Sudden Death Cult Movie

Directed by the late Kinji Fukasaku and released in 2000, Battle Royale is set in an alternate Japan where junior high school students are taken to a remote island and required to fight to the death until only one remains. This controversial movie was based on an equally notorious novel by Japanese author Koushun Takami.

Not only do the students have to dispatch their classmates using a selection of weapons but they also have to contend with explosive collars around their necks which contain tracking and listening devices. Any attempt to tamper with the collars, escape or enter a declared "danger zone", will detonate the collar and kill the student. Furthermore, if no student dies in any 24 hour period, all collars will be detonated simultaneously.

Some fun huh? Well surprisingly it is. There are fifty students to begin with and pretty soon you start to select your favourite and when/if they fall, you select another to cheer for. Ok we are on slightly dodgy ground morally but it begs the question what would you do in their place? It really is a kill or be killed situation.

Surprisingly none of the child actors who took part in the filming bore any emotional scars. Many regarded it as a bit of fun during their holidays while others were prompted to confront the moral issue of whether they could truly kill a friend in order to survive.

To some Battle Royale is just a sadistic gore-fest where a lot of nice kids get killed, which is rather missing the point. It's more of a future vision of the extremes of reality TV and how far a government would be prepared to go to maintain control over wild youth.

The classic soundtrack for Battle Royale, by composer Masamichi Amano seamlessy mixes his own orchestral and choral cues with selected classical pieces by Verdi, Schubert, Bach and Strauss. It's hard to choose the real standout tracks but among my favourites are Teacher which introduces the menacing Kitano; the brooding Slaughter House; the touching Mimuras Determination and the deeply moving Reunion.

Whilst the soundtrack is a great listen, you really have to see the film in all its blood splattered gory glory where the cues take on a greater poignancy. Unlike the DVD of the film which is readily available in most video stores, the soundtrack is a bit elusive, but well worth the search once you've tracked it down. This one is Super lucky!

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