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Hunger For Success

Mark Kermode | 13:55 UK time, Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Hunger Games has just opened with huge box office numbers. In the UK the film was cut to give it a 12A certificate, but why?

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Make Your Mind Up and John Carter

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  • Comment number 1.

    Saw it in the first possible screening I could on Thursday night and being a huge fan of the books, it did not disappoint. There were a few minor details here and there I thought they could've kept in, but other than that I thought it was a brilliant adaptation. But I do agree with you, Dr K, in that it was a marketing ploy rather than just censorship, it wouldn't have got the $150,000,000 weekend it did it if it were a 15 in the UK, plus the number of under 15s trying to blag their way into a 15 would have increased tenfold!

  • Comment number 2.

    I have not seen THE HUNGER GAMES, but I believe in principle that the re-cutting that has taken place here and in other films are an entirely valid part of the film-making process. In the case of large-scale movie production, it's unnecessary - foolhardy, even - to treat art and commerce as antitheses of each other. Yes, artistic integrity is important, but so is the obligation of the key crew to see that the millions of budget dollars are being used responsibly. In this way, I equate the marketing and classification decisions with any other of the hundreds of choices involved, in that it must be made carefully and with the project's original intent kept in close consideration. Whether this has all be done correctly can only be judged by viewing the film itself.

  • Comment number 3.

    Marketing decisions or not, it's self-censorship pure and simple. It can't be seen as any other way. Whether it's justified or not is another thing, but it's censorship however you look at it. Personally, I'm disappointed that it's been slightly watered down for marketing purposes in the UK, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the film should be condemned or shunned in its censored state.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have just seen it this morning and enjoyed it. A film like this comes with a ready made fan base of 10 to 16 years olds which the film makers have to be concious of. Whilst the film is tense, making a film with 'Wolf Creek' or 'Texas Chainsaw' levels of intensity would be commercial suicide because the target audience would be excluded by the certificate. The fact that 'The Hunger Games' tells such a dark and grisly story, with the inherant aspects of violence and sadism, without it feeling like a cop out is a testament to the film makers.

    On the flip side if 'Promethus' has anything lower than a 15 certificate, i'll boycott the film in disgust, when i go to see an 'Alien' film i don't expect it to be family friendly.

  • Comment number 5.

    I know you are a big fan of the BBFC, Mark (at least you are nowadays) but this recent trend of demanding cuts is a slippery slope to a censorship disaster.

    As far as I am concerned when someone outside the UK (e.g. an American) asks me if I've seen The Hunger Games or The Woman in Black I now have to reply "No," despite having supposedly seen something like them at the cinema.

    Film is a subtle art and the smallest cut (even just shavings of a few frames) can have the greatest impact on the whole piece. Ask any editor. So us Brits have not seen the same movie - the proper movie!

    And you can't blame the studios for this; if the BBFC effectively state "Cut this, this and this out or you won't be making as much money in this territory," of course they are going to comply! It's on the BBFC's head and they should really reconsider their ways as of late.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have a big problem with the 12A certificate as it seems to exist without having any need to exist. The BBFC says that it is for films that people under 12 should not see unless they are taken by someone over 18 who has judged it alright to watch which in theory should force people have to see the film twice, once to see if it is alright for their children, with their children if they think it is ok for them to watch it. I may be missing something here but isn't that what the reason we have the PG rating? Another factor the calls it's existance into question is the fact that the 12 certificate still exists for DVD's. As a result we now have this strange situation where a child whose 10 can legally watch a film at the ciniema but cannot legally purchase the DVD for at least two years after it's released. I say get rid of the 12A certificate and just stick to the PG and 12 certificates.

  • Comment number 7.

    I haven't read the books or seen the film yet, and I'd like to add that I HAVE seen Battle Royale, and here are my thoughts. I'm struggling to see how a film that deals with such visceral, violent, terrifying themes such as the killing of children by other children can be a 12A...? It must be doing something half-bottomed.

  • Comment number 8.

    Woody Harrelson's wig alone deserved a '15'.

  • Comment number 9.

    Disappointed with the marketing strategy, surely you make a film how you feel it should be and not care about pandering to the audience. I realise this is a blockbuster out to earn a profit but like to hope the makers gave it more respect rather than it being just another big budget and formulated film. I don't see why they couldn't release two versions one 15 and one 12A, which goes for Woman in Black too.

  • Comment number 10.

    I've read the books and really quite enjoyed them, in much the same way I enjoyed the first (and only the first!!!) Twilight novel. Having seen the film on Saturday however, I came away disappointed. Though I am a fan of Jennifer Lawrence since seeing 'Winter's Bone', I don't think she fitted the part all that well. For one, Katniss is from a poor district where hunger is widespread etc; Ms Lawrence looks too healthy for the part! Even so, I could live with the casting, and I certainly thought her performance was acceptable. The problem I had with the film is the same I had with Spielberg's adaption of 'War Horse'; violence on the page is far more acceptable than violence on screen. And the sources for both these films contain substantial violence. For me, they failed to create an impact. I emerged from the cinema bemused, and slightly bored, on both occasions wondering how such fast paced books had turned into such tame pieces of cinema.

    Moreover, I personally believe children are these days far more attune to hard-hitting scenes than censors etc given them credit. I'm not demanding endless blood and gore, but I certainly don't think 'The Hunger Games' came across as hard hitting. The row in front of mine, crowded with kids, was the source of actual laughter when I watched the film, especially during the 'climax' involving genetically-modified 'hounds'. And I agree with them. The scenes of action (i.e. er, slaughter) just didn't work. They did look contrived, and pulled the film down. Given some of the material most kids see on screens at home, I honestly think there is a case of 'over-caution' here. They can READ of violence; why can't they SEE it?

    I certainly agree with you concerning the reasons the film was cut. Dollar signs clearly plastered the interior of the distributors' eyeballs. But I argue such cuts weren't necessary in the first place, even for the intended 12A certificate.

    Also (slightly off topic, but I must vent my frustration!!!); where was the soundtrack!!!??? I'm not one to demand pulse-pounding music in everything (I loved 'Le Quattro Volte'), but I will say 'The Hunger Games' needed some stimulation. I don't think I've seen a film with such an underwhelming use of music. I honestly believe I would have found it more exciting and faster-paced had there been a decent soundtrack. For such a high profile 'event' I was hoping for one too!

  • Comment number 11.

    saw this at the weekend,not read the books but have to say found very flat indeed.more edge would have made it much more interesting and brought the tension right up.a good book to film transfer is rare.i think its hard get the feeling you can with a book,i.e through your own imagination.i was prepared for this to be harsher but as i say it fell flat for me.

  • Comment number 12.

    I saw the film on regular opening day - a Friday lunchtime screening very well supported (for that time of day). I wasn't shocked by the violence but I suspect that's mainly because I don't think it's a very good film and it saddens me greatly that it's doing better than JOHN CARTER which is a superior piece of work in every way. (Emphasis: there is no level on which THE HUNGER GAMES is better than JOHN CARTER.)

    The BBFC are certainly not to blame here: if the studio wanted a 12A rating they should have submitted a 12A film. The trouble with comparing our 12A with the American PG13 is that the two classification systems are entirely differently structured and rated by different groups of people to a different set of criteria. We have no problem with mainstream studio movies being rated 18 which is a stronger rating than the dreaded NC17, let alone the R. What goes for their system doesn't automatically go for ours.

    There is a story that the distributors wanted an AA rating for THE DEER HUNTER and asked the BBFC for advice on what they should cut to avoid an X, and the BBFC responded that the film was a magnificent film and the studio had a moral duty not to interfere with it by cutting it.

  • Comment number 13.

    All these cut scenes will just be included on the DVD. It's not like they're trying to bury them ala The Wicker Man or The Devils. Also, Nice cut, Dr. K.

  • Comment number 14.

    I haven't seen the hunger games or read the book. However I was slightly annoyed with The Woman in Black. Not so much that they cut the film (I did enjoy it), but more that they changed the story from the book and stage play; making it suitable for a younger audience but at the same time stripping all of the impact out of the ending.

    However, if they make similar cuts to 'Prometheus' to get a 12A rating I think it will be a huge mistake and may alienate (no pun intended) its long standing fan base.

  • Comment number 15.

    Don't see why they can't just do two cuts - one for afternoon showings (12A) and one for evening showings (15)

  • Comment number 16.

    Firstly, I am not bothered that this film owes a debt to Battle Royale as I love that film. What bothers me is that the writer AND director had never HEARD of Battle Royale?? I did hear you right Mr Kermode did I not? How is that possible?

    Secondly, we don't have to be rocket scientists to realise they edited the film for a young audience as this is now the studio's answer to Harry Potter and Twilight now these franchises have ended. This is their new money maker. We have a few more Hunger Games books to be made into films yet (with the last film I am sure made into parts 1 & 2), and I for one, will not watch ONE of them...

  • Comment number 17.

    Personally I think it's a very bad thing that the BBFC has started to edit films in this way. It's more marketing than classification. Isn't this the sort of thing the PG certificate was originally meant for? Nowadays I can't see any distinguishing features between U and PG films, 12A has crept into meaning 'PG' when REALLY it should allow for things such as splashes of blood.

    Blood is a fact of life. The BBFC cannot have their cake and eat it. If the film is about kids killing each other, then you're having a film about kids killing each other and blood should be involved. The BBFC needs to properly re-evaluate their thoughts on such things. It seems incredibly out of touch with what REAL kids can handle. It's perhaps interesting to note that the Japanese film classification board originally rated Battle Royale as 15 in Japan, rather controversially, but in the end the general consensus from the filmmakers was that it was more responsible for younger teens to see the full extent of the themes than 'protect' them from it.

    As for the Woman in Black, I found it simply hilarious that 'intensity' can define a rating now. It is FAR too vague a criteria to classify a work, it is far too objective. Intensity should have NOTHING to do with film classification when it comes to psychological horror. Frankly, if a scene is 'intense' then the filmmaker has done a very good job. Bambi is intense, Pinocchio is intense and many other children's films are 'intense', none of which have to do with violence but music and images. To lessen intensity is to mar the film as a work. You don't see the colours of works of art in galleries being altered for fear of being 'too intense' for the viewing public, so why should the filmmakers permit a lesser version to be shown for fear of someone having an 'intense' experience. That's what we bloody go to the cinema FOR!

  • Comment number 18.

    I'd like to add:

    What would Doctor Kermode say if a re-release of The Exorcist had the chilling voice of Lucifer 'toned down in the mix', or the chilling light in the film's final scenes 'toned down' to secure a lower rating? Not that these things would matter in getting anything less than an 18 for the Exorcist, mind you, but I hope you see the point. The BBFC showed itself to be great with giving The King's Speech a 12A, but they have ALWAYS had a problem with violence, and I for one feel it is becoming very dated.

  • Comment number 19.

    This is a case self censorship in the fact that the distributer wants to get more audiences to see the film and quite frankly this really annoys me, its the only reason that kept me away from seeing The Woman in Black and waiting for it when it comes out on Blu-Ray.

    However with The Hunger Games this is a different case. I haven't seen the film, but I have read the book and even on the page it was disturbing enough for the young adult crowd to which this is film that is aimed. The fact that its being tipped as the new Twilight is further pushing this particular audience demograph into seeing this film. Although it pains me to say it, I think the distributors were right to shed the very brief scenes of intensity.

    Now after having said that, I really do hope that Fox haven't taken my comments to heart because Ridley Scott's upcoming film Prometheus has to be released uncut with all the intensity LEFT IN UNCUT!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Generally I don't really have a problem with films being slightly edited down to accommodate their intended audience as long as the intentions are true to the creative forces behind the film. By this I mean that I think Hunger Games was made to include the 12 audience so ensuring the film's content matches that is fine by me. Obviously cutting an 18 down to a 12A is not acceptable.

    The two issues that arise for me are:

    1. In some instances I think a few of the action sequences are harder to follow and visually grasp because the cuts, coupled with the style of cinematography make it all seem a little too frenetic.

    2. The real problem is not with the cutting of films but the 12A certificate itself. A rating that allows a much younger audience to see a film as long as they have irresponsible parents can ultimately ruin it for all of us. Get rid of the A and just have PG and 12

  • Comment number 21.

    Personally, I don't think movies should ever be cut. There should be a warning of sorts, sure, but definitely no compulsory rating system that disallows certain age groups from entering. I'm sick of this 'what about the children'-mindset. I don't want to live in a world where every sharp edge is covered with a child safety cushion.

  • Comment number 22.

    My understanding is that any cuts for this film (or The Woman in Black) aren't demanded by, and definitely aren't carried out by, the BBFC, as had perhaps been the case in the past.

    Both films were available as an uncut 15 rating. The BBFC have no problem with the content as long as it's at the appropriate certificate, as laid down by their guidelines.

    If the distributors want something less, then they have to cut, then resubmit to the BBFC.

    Definitely not censorship. Definitely a marketing tool.

  • Comment number 23.

    The fact that the film is still shocking and those shocks have nothing to do with blood and gore prove they were right to cut the film.

    On principal, I would agree that you should make the film you want to make, however, these minor cuts hardly change the film's impact or merit.

    It's also worth noting that 'the film you want to make' can and (and should, at times) mean 'a film for these people'. Certainly true in this case. Surely all involved wanted to make a film that would be appreciated by the same people that appreciated the books. If that means very minor cuts, so be it.

    And just on a side note... I very much enjoyed this film. The science fiction had something to say and I feel this could all be leading up to a science fiction resurgence and that after The Hobbit, we'll see Peter Jackson directing Mortal Engines, which was rumoured a while back.

    That would be exciting.

  • Comment number 24.

    Did anyone else think: cheap marketing? You can hardly blame them, though!

  • Comment number 25. publicity rather!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I went to see it as soon as I could because I really liked the book, but was a bit disappointed. It's not bad, just not as good as I wanted it to be. I wasn't shocked by the violence (and if someone can tell me how Thresh killed the tribute from District 2 off-camera, I'd love to know) What bothered me more was that I didn't care when a major character died. I cared in the book, but in the film there wasn't enough character development. I don't know how they could have gotten around that and kept it at the already quite long length it is.

    I understand why they wanted the 12A rating but I don't see it as censorship, although the director might see himself as being censored by the distributors and their marketing company. It just seems ridiculous to me that cutting just seven seconds could have such a change in the rating, and I'd be very interested to see those seven seconds and find out what was so bad it had to be cut.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm with Lucky Luke on this, why can't they release more than one version at the same time and allow people to choose. Logistically, it can't be that difficult with modern digital technology. If a cinema is showing the same film on more than one screen, I can't see how it would be detrimental to have more than one cut.

    Also, I can't believe the director had never heard of Battle Royale. It's a stretch to believe that the writer hadn't heard of it, but suggesting that no one had even mentioned Battle Royale during the production of the movie seems bonkers to me.

  • Comment number 28.

    I know it is a very very bold statement for me to say this, but The Hunger Games will be a classic in 50-75 years. Only time will prove this fact to be true. The Hunger Games is very much like The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Star Wars, and a ton of other classic films in that it is %70 good and %30 nonsense. The difference with The Hunger Games and the other classics I mentioned, is that the %70 good way overshadows all the nonsense and makes for a film that can be enjoyed by multiple generations.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just watched BATTLE ROYALE a few days ago, so won't be ever seeing Hunger Games because it sounds like a cheaper-looking, dull, less socially-conscious PG-13 version of it.

    Not a fan of edited theatrical releases at all, censorship otherwise. The original ending to Paranormal Activity was excellent, but then the theatrical version had to have a boogie in your face ending. So was the original ending to Butterfly Effect, where the theatrical version had a happy ending for the Ashton Kutcher fans.

  • Comment number 30.

    Yes it is marketing - of course of course of course it is!

    Same thing happened with The Dark Knight - they clearly cut away from the Joker's "why so serious" moment with Gambol because if they had shown the 'cut' (no pun intended) the movie would have got a higher certificate and cut off box office potential in the young age group (they do have to sell all those toys too).

    But you know this leads me onto an interesting point:

    Terminator 2 was an 18 certificate in the UK (no question) and yet they still released not one but TWO waves of Terminator 2 action figure collections in toy shops.

    So basically they had decided that kids were watching the movie anyway in all it's gory glory (the action figures allowed body parts to be ripped off as in the movie) and so in this case the 18 certificate had little or no effect on the potential of Terminator 2 in the home video and merchandise market!

    and no I'm not happy with the cuts

  • Comment number 31.

    I haven't seen it yet (I'm waiting a few days for the initial rush of irritating teens to abate) but I must say I hate it how film studios are either cutting their own film or deliberately aiming them from conception to get a low rating. Ok it's good business for them to maximise their audiences but we've pretty much lost the Hollywood action films aimed purely at adults.

  • Comment number 32.

    I have both read the book and seen the film and I though the film was good with most of the floors with the film are in the book as well (accept the CGI which they could have spent $50m more on and done it well as they where almost guaranty massive box office success)

    I agree with Dr K that it was a marketing decision to cut the film for a 12A but I font think that this has to be a bad thing. There are many 12,13 and14 year old who love the books and would be really disappointed if they could not see it. Just because a decision is driven by money dos not always make it a bad thing and with the amount of really bad films that are amid at teens both male and female I think it good that something the is good and interesting can be seen as as many people as possible

  • Comment number 33.


    One thing that has really angered about the hunger games (other than the fact it's a very badly written book) is actually the fact that Suzanne Collins (the author and script writer) and the director (which is more preposterous) have never heard of Battle Royale. I don't think there is any excuse for not knowing about them in the first place. As an aspiring author, the first thing I do is checked to see whether any ideas that I have clash with something that has already been published.

    The film though I won't go and see because why would I go and see a 12A remake of a much more brutal shocking and down right better film and novel, 18 certificated Japanese film!

    Rant over.

    p.s. I know I have stuck up for the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but at least that was just as brutal as the original and had improved it in some of the plot.

  • Comment number 34.

    I thought it was an excellent film actually and very nearly lived up to the absolute genius of the book. As much as I baulk a little at it being called "the new Twilight" because it is worlds apart in terms of intelligence, I can see it being a huge, huge franchise and if that means that more people read the books, I'm all for it.

    Regarding the cuts for a 12A rating, I am not bothered at all. I thought that the violence was one of the things that the film did exceptionally well. It managed to be incredibly shocking, without dwelling on sloshes of blood and gore, so I don't mind losing a few seconds of splatter and injury detail. The beauty of the violence in The Hunger Games is what was implied rather than what was shown. That was its true strength.

  • Comment number 35.

    And on a side-note, anyone who is rubbishing The Hunger Games as just a dumber Battle Royale needs to wake up a little bit. Just because a film is aimed at teenagers does not mean it has to be stupid and full of snogging to make money.

    See the film, THEN make a judgement.

  • Comment number 36.

    Cutting of the scenes was a very shrewd decision by the studio to reach a larger audience—i.e. the target audience. The Hunger Games is considered to be a “young adult” piece of fiction, which usually ends up meaning young teens and pre-teens.

    A 15 rating would have alienated a large chunk of the target audience who may have been hotly anticipating the film. The violence may be less explicit, but we are still talking about a world where children are pitted against each other to the death; a softened kill-shot doesn’t change the film’s grim subject matter.

  • Comment number 37.

    p.p.s In terms of censorship, I agree that the BBFC should have left it alone and agree with JTGGardener (#10) that I think that they are out of touch with what kids can actually take in violent content. I think it's mainly down to the few over-zealous people who just want to complain about something that complain that this film might be corrupting our young children. Also on a side note, if Prometheus isn't an 18, I won't go and see it. End of!

  • Comment number 38.

    Surely 'self-censorship' is an oxymoron, as censorship is a kind of restraint or suppression, and you can't do that to yourself as it would by definition be voluntary, hence not censorship.

    It is entirely a marketing decision and not 'censorship', as a 15 uncut was available in both cases and the studios simply wanted to make the film available to a wider demographic. This is so far from being anything new and I'm surprised at the amount of people that don't realise this, and at how it's suddenly being reported in the media when it's a regular occurrence.

    In the case of The Women in Black I'm not so keen on it as it's not specifically aimed at a younger audience, so it feels like a money-spinner. The Hunger Games, however, very much is and so it would obviously be beyond foolish to have allowed it to be released with a 15 rating.

    I have not seen The Hunger Games yet. I'm not sure I will personally like it but I am glad if it's going to take over Twilight's crown as it does at least seem to have a heroine who is strong, brave, resourceful, and actually DOES something, as opposed to Bella, who by the third Twiglet film literally has to be carried around by the other characters, spends almost all her time sulking and moping, and who's only ability seems to be 'allowing-herself-to-almost-get-raped' - either metaphorically or actually.

  • Comment number 39.

    @ 35 TomBeasley

    If I'm honest, I had never heard of the hunger games, until I saw (didn't read) an article about it in Total film/Empire then saw a trailer on it youtube. The first thing that came into my mind was "wow this looks like really poor american-ised version of Battle Royale with a bit of twilight throw in". Total film went onto call it "the most influential films in years"...........Not much you can say to that really other than I will never by Total Film again.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think what puts it nearer censorship is that we can't see the full version without going to America. I don't really mind alterations being made so it can reach a wider audience, but it would be nice to have the option of seeing the full version - a 12A version and a 15 version, just like you can choose to see 2D or 3D

  • Comment number 41.

    When will the new Dodge Brothers album be released, Mark?

    Loved the first one! Hope you guys play the Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa some day. As you probably already know, that's Bob Wills' old stomping grounds, and I think "The King of Western Swing" would mightily approve of this sort of British invasion. Or as he might say: "Awh-HAW!"

    Cheers from Oklahoma.

  • Comment number 42.

    I honestly can't get excited about the cuts for category. I'd imagine the reason there aren't two versions of THE HUNGER GAMES on release simply because there are only seven seconds between them. The last time there were two versions out with different certificates, I think, was BRUNO, but there were more than two minutes lopped out so they could have a 15.

    @ 30 - RussiansEatBambi66

    Terminator 2 was always a 15 except (according to the BBFC's site) the laserdisc release in 1992. In order to get a 15, it had about four seconds snipped from one sequence.

  • Comment number 43.

    I find it a bit annoying that some people judge this as a weak, more stupid Battle Royale.

    It's like saying it's ripped off Lord of the Flies and simplified it. In reality something like Lord of the Flies looks at the fall of children and looks at innate brutality. Hunger Games is more about the media, government and control.

    My only complain with the film is that it didn't cover THOSE themes in as much depth as I'd like. But then I'm not a teenager - considering its audience I think the film has some respectable depth and ideas. Certainly themes that aren't so common in comparable blockbusters.

  • Comment number 44.

    This fast growing obsession with 12a seems to be mirroring the US obsession with getting the PG13 rating where the R rating is seen as the kiss of death. Films for an adult audience surprisingly are not seemed to be viewed as viable despite the fact the adults earn the money!

  • Comment number 45.

    I went to see The Hunger Games last Friday and thought it was marvellous. I enjoyed the books but I truly think that the film is superior as it accentuates the main themes and conveys them in a much more powerful way. The film was well acted and the utilisation of sound (or the lack of it) and the handheld camera were extremely impressive. This is just guessing but I think that in order to avoid showing gore and get the 12A certificate, the filmmakers had to resort to using these techniques in order to fully convey the horror without directly depicting it.

    I admire the BBFC but I think that if the cuts are as trivial as "digitally removing sight of blood splashes and sight of blood on wounds and weapons" they're frankly unnecessary.

    P.S. - I don't understand the high praise that Battle Royale receives. I found the backstory (which is basically economic recession > mass truancy/hooliganism > BR act) to be extremely weak (if not plain laughable) and some of the (over)acting pretty unbearable.

  • Comment number 46.

    As the father of an 11 year old girl who is a strong reader and has read, and loves, the books I was very pleased that the distributors/marketers did this. If the film had got a 15 then she would not have been able to see it. End of. And the reaction from junior would not have been good. I had read the books in advance of our child reading them (we do this a lot as some she would otherwise read really aren't suitable for that age) and as it was my wife and I had a fair few discussions as to whether we would go. In the end I went with our daughter. If it had been left at a 15 there would have been a lot of aggravated parents of disappointed kids (or worse some irresponsible parenting as kids under age were allowed to see a 15 rated DVD...) and on a purely mercenary note the film would make less money (cost me £16 for the 2 of us to go *chokes*). On a side note I really rather enjoyed it!

  • Comment number 47.

    I have to disagree with you Mark, it is censorship. Self-censorship is still censorship. The audience is being denied access to something that the film makers originally wanted us to see.

  • Comment number 48.

    I'm in agreement that they should have released two cuts, one unedited and the other toned down for the 12A certificate...

    I Don't think it's necessarily the fault of the BBFC that we have an edited version; I blame the practices of the MPAA and the way that they interact with film distributors in the States. The MPAA has bred the 'cuts for marketing' mentality deeply into the USA's film releasing process, unfortunately they have no strict set of guidelines or process like the BBFC; they are wishy-washy at best and hardcore conservative at worst.

    The good Doctor has mentioned the documentary 'This Film Is Not Yet Rated' before, which delves into this process and just how unfair and inconsistent it is.
    There's also an extra feature on the DVD for 'A History of Violence' that depicts the difference between the US and UK cuts (it's also on youtube); the UK version being far more bloody and graphic, passed as an 18 over here whilst the US version was toned down to avoid an NC-17 certificate, as that certificate is considered commercial suicide: Imagine if our largest cinema chains, supermarkets and general DVD retailers no longer stocked 18 rated films... That's what an NC-17 certificate means.

    Now for the Battle Royale 'connection':
    Just because you know of its existence, does not mean everyone else does.
    It's fine to see similarities in plot details, it happens all the time, but BR is a foreign film and (as popular as it is) should be considered an obscurity when it comes to the general populace.

    Just remember that those of us that enjoy film to the level that we post about it on blogs & message boards and discuss them passionately and compulsively with our compatriots; we know a lot more and a more well read in film than the average joe... that includes authors and even movie makers ;o)

  • Comment number 49.

    I went to see it last night with friends, I thought the film was nail-bitingly brilliant and can appeal to both teenage girls and twenty-something guys like me. But like The Dark Knight, if I was a father I would not have wanted my child of 12 to watch that. Even I felt too young for it.

    I'm not concerned that the film is censored to make it a 12A and therefore get a larger audience, in fact I have no problem with self-censorship for that reason. But I do have a problem with self-censorship when film with such a violent theme can be seen by someone as young as 10 or even younger. OK, so you don't see much blood or gore, but little is left to the imagination. Like The Dark Knight, or The Woman In Black, or even Jurassic Park an overriding sense of terror would be enough to for kids to regret begging their parents to take them to the cinema to see it. Or for parents to regret allowing them to watch it.

  • Comment number 50.

    Hi Mark,

    Just seen this today and in all honesty I thought it was a perfect fit for its target audience. But I want to focus on something else you brought up, do we really believe the writer and director genuinely had no prior knowledge of Battle Royale? Was it just coincidence that the opening fighting sequences look strikingly similar? Recently we had the same sort of thing with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo English language remake (oh sorry adaptation) where both director and lead actor tried to distance themselves completely from the Scandinavian version. Is this just a case of creative ego's or are film makers simply not avid movie followers?

  • Comment number 51.

    I don't have an issue with the hunger games being linked with Battle Royale because as you mentioned that is not an entirely original piece of fiction anyway however my issue is the way the novel is presented as a whole, it appears to be
    an angsty, dumbed-down and less violent novel aimed at teenagers looking for the next franchise after twilight. I guess my main problem is the violence being reduced taints the film and if they are going for a story about the horrors of teenagers being violent towards each they should probably refrain from going all out but certainly don't reduce the amount of violence just for teenagers sake.

  • Comment number 52.

    In principle i am completely against cuts just for marketing but on the other hand you have to consider the facts: The Hunger Games was cut by 7 seconds. Thats it. Even the director said in an interview that he shouldnt have included the extra seconds of blood splatter as it wasnt a key part of the film just there to make it more violentlt artistic i think was the way he put it!

    However, what really bothers me is this new trend the BBFC has of giving 12A certificates to films where the violence or horror is deemed acceptable because it is "fantasy" so the audience doesn't believe its real and will be less shocked by this. Unbelievable! The Dark Knight is a prime example - how that got a 12A i have no idea especially when you consider the films taht have been given a 15 which are less scary and less violent. I am no prude but when me and my friends saw that in the cinema (we were 17 at the time) we honestly had no idea how that was a 12 and on the way home we were actually talking more about that rather than how good the film was!

    If they have to give a film a 12 it should only be for people 12 and over not this silly 12A nonsense as frankly no one pays 10 uid to watch a film before taking their kid along and paying another 12 quid to watch it with them. Secondly i would not want a 10 year old watching The Dark Knight for exampleas frankly, it is wholly inapropriate for someone that age watching that film.

  • Comment number 53.

    I haven't seen Hunger Games, though did see The Woman In Black, but it is blatantly apparent in both cases that the distributors were entirely concerned with box office return when submitting to cuts. If they truly believed in the artistic merit of the films they were promoting, they would have argued more fiercely for the film to be shown uncut, rather than readily submitting to cuts, and if the BBFC had not relented, they should have stood by the directors' vision and allowed the films to receive a higher rating. I have a similar outlook on Jurassic Park (as my past rantings have ably demonstrated) accept the director was on board from the get go with sanitizing the work to get a lower rating. Spielberg, even though some of the images put on screen by him in the film were miraculous, emasculated what was a gripping, thought-provoking thriller from the late, great Michael Crichton.

  • Comment number 54.

    I saw the Hunger Games on Friday I found that the lack of intense violence which is present in the book, didn't have nowhere near the effect it had in the film. I felt the 12A certificate had a massive impact as the fight scenes and various other scenes which could have been more graphic were really badly put together and distracting as the "graphicness" of them had to be toned down.

  • Comment number 55.

    It looks like a cross between The Handmaid's Tale, The Running Man, and Gamer...

  • Comment number 56.

    At 16:44 27th Mar 2012, spaceodds wrote:

    Now after having said that, I really do hope that Fox haven't taken my comments to heart because Ridley Scott's upcoming film Prometheus has to be released uncut with all the intensity LEFT IN UNCUT!!

    I distinctly remember Ridley Scott saying that his ALIEN prequel would be "really nasty"; he planned on upping the gore and beating anything Cameron did in ALIEN. So we can at least hope for an 18, though I have a horrible feeling they'll do a TERMINATOR on us and give us a PG/12/15. Just once I'd like a film made by adults, for adults (no not porn!) instead of all this patronising "got to appeal to a wide audience" BS. We shall see, anyway.

  • Comment number 57.

    To my mind it is self censorship to ensure the highest commercial return. The decision rests purely with the studio / film-maker. However, I generally want to see a film as it was originally intended, not cut to satisfy a certificate. As a result I did not see Woman in Black in the cinema, neither will I go watch the Hunger Games in the cinema, despite really wanting to see both. Instead i will wait for the Blu-Ray, hopefully uncut, and watch them then.

    The commercial decision appears to have paid off, and lets be honest most people will have no idea they are watching a slightly cut film, but it will have consequences with a small number of filmgoers.

  • Comment number 58.

    I thought the film was visually interesting on how they portrayed the people from the capitol , I also like the costume design and I liked Lawrence's performance. However I did not like Hutcherson's performance I found it very bland and his character development was rather poor and I also found the romantic storyline very dull.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think it comes down - again - to the issue of what 12A means as opposed to the former 12 cert'. Under the old cert' the film would have been restricted to 12 yrs or over, but the 'A' bit now effectively means any age (albeit with an adult present) and in my opinion this affects the decision making be it by the BBFC or the distributors. Sadly, parents will take very young children into these films without checking first on the type of film or its contents. I saw children as young as 4 & 5 in the cinema watching War Horse and I saw them quite upset by some of the scenes. Under the 12 cert' they wouldn't be able to see a film like this. I haven't seenHunger Games as yet but have read the book and I can anticipate this is not a film for anyone under 12. Whether the cuts would have been made if the cert' was 12 and not 12A I can only speculate.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hi, I saw the Hunger Games last Friday and I absolutely loved it, usually when I like a film, any film I will it on to do well, critically and commercially, which it has, that's why I have a slight problem with something you said that the Hunger Games had mixed reviews, to me mixed is usually 50/50, I know that you said not everyone likes it which is true, but I think the critical acclaim is more mixed to positive at least, more 75%. I apologise for being a bit picky.

    As I said before I absolutely loved the film, Jennifer Lawrence's performace was amazing, loved her in Winter's Bone and in X-men:First Class. I felt that Jennifer Lawrence was very believable as Katniss and made us root for her. I felt that there was this against all odds story in the backdrop as Katniss rises against this tyranny. Especially when President Snow gives his motives, I felt that she wasn't meant to win and it made me root for her more. I also like many of the characters such as Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, he was very entertaining and good, I also loved Stanley Tucci as the host, I enjoyed all the scenes when Tucci interviews the candidates, I thought it was done very realistically like something from a reality tv show. I thought the film was pretty intense and it was quite volent but I like the intensity and without the violence the film wouldn't be what it is?

    Was I shocked by some of the violence in the film? Erm, yes and no. I've seen many violent films, some use violence very well some just use it for the sake, but two scenes that made me stop and think were the beginning of the battle when the tributes are released as this very violent frenzy erupts as the tributes kill each other, I felt here that the shaky camerawork here was very effective in creating this chilling effect yet not focus too much on the blood. Another scene was when a spear plunges into Rye, at first I was in shock, as Rue was so small, innocent and cute then a spear flies through her. However after I let my thought settle I felt that the violence was absolutely necessary. These kids, young men and women are in a fight for their lives, all of it is very primitive, event the weapons on the battlefield aren't very advanced. All this made me think to a different film I was watching which was an 18, City of God when Lil' Ze and his gang kill these small kids, the runts, that was also violent and intense, but it's all about survival, when you are pushed I think that you do what you have to, to survive.

    Have I read the book, well as much as I loved the film, I haven't read the book, but the trilogy will be landing on my doorway very soon.

    Did it bother me that the movie was trimmed? I really enjoyed the film, did it bother me, not really, but I would of liked to see the untrimmed version. I believe that when a film is released though, it should be the same version worldwide as I think that the tiniest cut could be of significance and change the film and how people see the film. I will be looking forwards to see how you think Mark if you see both the American version and the version released in the UK.

    I believe that it's marketing as the distributors had a choice, but I would also liked to have seen the distributors try and push the censors to include the trimmed parts, I mean in Casino Royale we see James Bond naked and tortured. I also believe that most things nowadays is about money and it's very important especially in film, so I can understand why they trimmed it and if it was me I would of done the same to reach a wider audience, I think that it's totally acceptable, if you don't like it why not with each film release a director's cut.

  • Comment number 61.

    Interesting to note that Battle Royale, even with all its splatter and swears, was aimed at roughly the same aged audience in Japan as its teenage protagonists, and given the equivalent of a 15 certificate over there.

    The Hunger Games just didn't seem as gritty or as violent as it needed to be, given the dark subject matter, although it's sadly inevitable that with a $100 million franchise film its distributors will obvously go for the widest possible audience.

    I'm still holding out hope that distributors willl take the risk of releasing a 15 or 18 cut of Prometheus in cinemas.

  • Comment number 62.

    I haven't seen the Hunger Games nor read the books , but on the wider subject of cuts I am a grown up, and I do feel like mainstream films are not made for me any more. The vast majority of films seem like they are at best 15 certificate and when I watch them would be so much better if they would have "gone for it" and got an 18.

    I guess this is the harsh economic reality nowadays

  • Comment number 63.

    As someone who's not read the original books, I have to say that the Hunger Games was a lot of fun, but at the same time very clever. As most people have pointed out, it makes little references to similar fiction e.g. Battle Royale, 1984 and in my opinion A Clockwork Orange, although that's what makes it so great, it's not plagiarism, it just shows that every idea comes from somewhere.
    In terms of its 12A rating, I would've preferred a 15 rated cut of the film, as after all the subject matter it deals with is pretty hard to commercialise to a mainstream audience. Then again, the books themselves are meant for teenagers so perhaps the 12A rating seems right.

    However, I do hate it when Hollywood tries to force lower ratings on films that are marketed for an adult audience. A prime example being The Expendables 2, which originally had a 15 rating, but Chuck Norris forced the makers of the film to tone down the violence and language to get a 12A, which of course meant the guys at Lionsgate had an excuse to lower the rating, hence more people seeing the film. Hopefully the Dr. Kermode agrees with me on this point.

  • Comment number 64.

    I've read plenty of interviews with directors who admit they added an extra "bucket of blood" just so when/if the film gets censored, it's actually cut back to what they originally wanted. The director's happy, the studio's happy, and the censor's happy... It seems pretty much a standard "trick" these days, so I wouldn't get too worked up about it: the film you see is most probably the film they originally wanted you to see, and they can always add the "cut" footage to the DVD as an extra marketing ploy....

    As for the BBFC, they're no longer the stuffy old Mr Cholmondely-Warner's of the 1950's who fear for the morals of the nation: they all died long ago. These days, they're mostly young people who are huge film fans and prefer to take a very light touch to films. The days of savage censorship are long gone.

  • Comment number 65.

    This is a minor example of something that genuinely bothers me. There appears to be this irritating opinion that a film's final cut is constantly in a state of flux and is never clearly defined.

    Anyone seeing The Hunger Games in the UK is seeing a different film to those seeing it in the US. In a very slight sense, sure, but it's not the exact same.

    So when it comes to the DVD release, which is it going to be? Odds are one will be chosen for the blanket release and the other won't be available. But what if someone preferred the other one? No. Sorry. You're going to have to just deal with it. The film you fell in love with is not available to you.

    Now, obviously it seems trivial with the minor changes to The Hunger Games but this happens all the time to films with far more significant differences or with films later re-released as director's cuts, uncut versions, re-cut versions and Star Wars (exists in its own category, let's be honest). While none of these things are fundamentally wrong per se, I find the idea of deciding later on that some new or alternate version of a film is now definitive and all previous versions are made completely unavailable very problematic. I think it's disrespectful to those who went to the film and threw enough money at it to allow the filmmaker to go back and rejig it.

    It's not a matter of censorship to me. It's a matter of allowing a film to exist as itself, flaws and all. As well as a matter of respecting the viewers and allowing them to enjoy a film as it was when they first experienced it.

    This is why I applaud Ridley Scott for including every existing version of Blade Runner in its 5 disc boxset. Even a workprint that got screened obscurely a handful of times. If that's your preferred take, enjoy it!

  • Comment number 66.

    Let's put an end to this Battle Royale and Twilight comparison nonsense once and for all.

    The Hunger Games and Battle Royal are in fact very different films, and I'm amazed by the number of people that now think it's perfectly legitimate to make quite negative (and arguably libellous!) comparisons from simply having seen a trailer. Whilst Battle Royale does share the common theme of fighting to the death, the political reasons for this, the characters and the nature of the fighting itself are all worlds apart in every conceivable way.

    More irritating still from our resident Trailer Critics here at Kermode Uncut are the Twilight comparisons. (This is perhaps a very minor spoiler, but I'd be grateful if the good doctor would perhaps mention this point in order to finally put a stop to this stupid comparison.) Whilst it isn't made as abundantly clear in the trailer, there is in fact no real 'romance' in the film - Katniss knows that the Game Makers and the people watching at home will be enthralled by their apparent blossoming relationship, which might increase her survival odds as it is not only the other competitors that can influence that. So it's less a nauseating Twilight moment and more a commentary on the sickness of a future society's fascination with young love in a shockingly violent annual event.

  • Comment number 67.

    The whole family saw Hunger Games at the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the level of violence and dread were perfect. Both of my children have read the books (10 and 13) but I haven't (yet) but they didn't seem phased nor did they comment on it having too much or too little violence. "The" sequence was shocking to someone who hadn't known it was coming but I thought it was done perfectly in order to not glorify the violence nor detract from the message.

    One point I had been thinking about recently prompted by the cutting discussion of this film, The Woman in Black and Prometheus, was whether any studios had considered tandem releases of different certificates in the same fashion that the 15 version of Bruno was released at the same time as the 12 I think. I thought this might address the complaints that WiB had been watered down for the tween market. I also dreaded the idea that the Prometheus vision could in anyway be restricted. Saying that, I thought that Hunger Games was perfectly pitched and won't be rushing to watch the uncut version on DVD.

  • Comment number 68.

    Well, I personally think that if it had been a 15 certificate film I would have felt deeply disappointed - because it's clearly aimed (in story terms) at early teens. There is no particular depth to anything beyond some pretty standard clichés - and yes, Dr Kermode, I think you may have missed the point of the "faux" romance element.
    That didn't stop it being a perfectly enjoyable film (although I'm with streetrw above: John Carter was better than it in every possible respect; even though that film was flawed, it was interestingly flawed) and at least the box-office success means that the other two will be made, which is more than Philip Pullman managed.

  • Comment number 69.

    It was so good to see the Hunger Games. A quality adaptation of a young adult novel. Such a contrast to the abysmal and deteriorating Twilight movies.

  • Comment number 70.

    Am I being incredibly naive/stupid in wondering why they don't show both versions in the UK? I don't see why multiplexes can't show the cut version before 9pm and the uncut version after 9pm for the older viewers.

  • Comment number 71.

    I've been aware of this film for quite a while now but I've not really been interested in watching it, I've seen battel royale and simply figured that it would be a toned down version of it, never-the-less I do realise that there are significant differences between the two (from the trailers alone the setting of the hunger games is much more has much more science fiction asthetics than battle royale). Also I have heard of the political ideas behind the story recently and that it is much more cerebral than your typical hollywood film.
    Never-the-less this film seems to me to be a studio-led blockbuster and it is no surprise that they made the cuts for it to be seen by a wider audience and make as much money as possible. I seriously doubt that there would have been so many peices of advertisement in many different forms if it had a 15 rating.

  • Comment number 72.

    Ultimately, it's a cop-out to consider self-censorship motivated by greed as being somehow less problematic than censorship laid on from "above" for ethical/puritanical reasons. And it's a lazy one, because it's obvious that the cop-out will be easily accepted.

    As for the film, I commend the makers for their lack of coyness about the title. It does exactly what it says on the tin: "panem et circenses" not just for the characters in the film but for the movie-going audiences as well.

  • Comment number 73.

    If i was to spend my time and energy making a film and then somebody decided to make some cuts, i'd probably hit them. These cuts made by the distribtors and makers seem to be for money making reasons which Battle Royale probably never set out to do.

    Films nowadays all have to be about box office numbers and how much money they can make. The Hunger Games will probably never be talked about in 12 years time, unlike Battle Royale which is still talked about 12 years on since it was released.

    Also worth noting is the budgets for The Hunger Games is $78,000,000 and Battle Royale, $4,500,000 according to IMDB.

  • Comment number 74.

    Just as with horror Sci-Fi is genre reliant on a large number of dedicated loyal fans and each adapted property that finds it's way to the screen brings with it a large and avid fanbase. It seems obvious that Lionsgate set out to make a film for that fanbase and if that required that the film be cut to meet the 12A cert then I would rather that than those fans be excluded.

    I'm significantly older than that fanbase but enjoyed the book and felt that the film was actually an improvement. Would it have been better with a little more muscle? Yes, as that would just increase the horror slightly but the film worked anyway - and the region A blu-ray will be available shortly.

  • Comment number 75.

    I was a bit disappointed on finding out That The Hunger Games was Going to be cut for a British audience. I have read all the books and really enjoyed them.

    But anyone who is familiar with the books will expect some very violent parts in the movie version. But I must say even in a slightly cut version, The Hunger Games violence was handled very well. In fact on the whole the movie was well done, with excellent performances pretty much all round.
    I do understand why certain plot changes were made but my only small problem with this movie is that it lacks some of the humor that appears in the book. This was also the case with some of the Harry potter adaptions. Humor as we know humor can be used in the most serious of situations to catch the reader/ viewer off guard or miss lead the to characters intentions.
    This is the case in the book, but not in the film which is a shame as Woody Harelesons character Haymitch suffers as a consequence.

  • Comment number 76.

    Slightly off topic Mark but in this post you re-iterate your belief that this film/book owes something to Lord of the Flies which is frankly just nonsense. The only plot similarity is that some children kill some other children - that's it. Otherwise there is no comparison.
    In my own view (and since it's nearly Easter), comparing The Hunger Games to Lord of the Flies is like comparing a Cadbury's Creme Egg to a Faberge Egg!

  • Comment number 77.

    The only thing that seems to gripe with UK audiences is the post-production tweeks to get moved to a 12A cert, with no blame to the BBFC.

    Both THG and TWIB could have been 'made' as 12A films in the first place and no one would be any the wiser. I suspect both films are reaching out to older audiences, but being inclusive to early teens, which would be better than being made wholly for the younger market.

  • Comment number 78.

    Surely one of the few advantages of having Digital cinema is the ability to 'download' a cut 12A version to be shown during the day, and an uncut version to be shown during the evening. Even if this means putting up a warning that the film contains extra gore,swearing or nudity.
    I still do not understand how anyone can dictate to me what I watch, as long as the film does not show real non-consentual harm between adults and does not harm children, animals or vulnerable adults then why can't I watch it?.

  • Comment number 79.

    I'd say it's somewhere in the middle. While in this case it's clearly a non-substantial edit to hit a lower rating, I don't think the general principle of 'if the film-makers volunteer to cut it's not censorship' holds.

    Like it or not, the films rating dramatically affects the profitability of the film. The BBFC can give a rating which would make the film a likely flop. Sure, its 'optional', the film-makers can still cut and resubmit, but the financial reality is that the BBFC is effectively forcing the cuts to be made. Very much a Hobson's choice.

    I don't have a problem with the BBFC, I think they're making good decisions these days. But decisions along these lines shouldn't be written off as fine, because the precedent is worrying.

    To give a more concrete example, in the games industry in the US, if the ratings body gives a game an 18 certificate, the makers can kiss goodbye to any profits. Why? Because the US's largest retail chain Walmart have a strict no-stocking policy on 18 rated games, so even adults don't get to buy 18 rated games there. So your choice is either to leave your game un-cut and ensure that the majority of your (18+) customers never even see your game, or cut it to be a 15. There's no way you can paint that as a voluntary decision, or a marketing call.

    It's the difference between 'being allowed to release your film or not' and 'your film being allowed to be a success or not'. But in both cases, it's still 'allowed' - the decision is in the censor's hands: long may the BBFC's spate of sensibleness continue.

  • Comment number 80.

    Why can't we have both certifications showing at the same time? Be honest with the subject matter and make a proper 18 certificate adults only version and then cut some scenes and digitally remove some of the gore for a 12a certificate version. Out of the 16 screens you say were showing the cut version surely at least 2 of them could have been sold out to an adults only 18 version.

  • Comment number 81.

    A film should be appropriate for it's target audience and if scenes need trimmed to achieve that so be it. Of course that's part of the film making process as well as marketing, there is very little distinction. The creators of the film can't always take a step back and know whether they've gone a little too far. You can't really have a bunch of kids hiding behind the sofa quivering wrecks in puddle of pee! The BBFC have their use here.

    However what I find irksome is the cuts made to 18 certificate films. We are old enough by this age to make informed decisions based on the information at hand. What makes it even more laughable is that alot these cuts get reinstated for the disc release and these are more easily obtained the age group that weren't meant to be seeing them. This is nothing more than just plain silly.

  • Comment number 82.

    Q- What do the French call The Hunger Games?

    A- Battle Royale with cheese.

  • Comment number 83.

    SteveDave@82, loved that ;-)

    I really don't like this growing marketing trend.

    What is wrong with a 15 certificate anyway? 14 and 13 year olds will still be going and getting into screenings up and down the country with little real financial loss to the distributor. I say grow a pair! Stop diluting elements of these stories, it's misguided at best.

    I have very fond memories of getting into a few 15, then later, 18 certificate films before I legally should have. It's a minor illicit thrill that really added to those few experiences. I seriously doubt that anyone contributing to the Kermode Uncut blog doesn't have at least one similar memory. Wes Craven's A Nightmare On Elm Street was the first 18 certificate film my friends and I managed to get into -a cracking film- back in 1984?

    Of course, I am in no way advocating that younger cinema goers should be getting more adventurous at their local multiplex by breaking the law here, certainly not ;-)

  • Comment number 84.

    I should preface this by saying I haven't read the books - I was intrigued by the dystopian aspect and the satire of reality TV, so I went in knowing as little as possible.

    On the one hand (and this is something I've rarely said about a film) I think it should have been more gory. The central idea IS shocking enough to provoke dread and intensity, and I can see that the fact that the violence was implied rather than shown might have been a reaction to the over-voyeuristic nature of reality TV. On the other hand, I do think that the film made the violence look a bit Disney-fied, which given the subject matter seemed out of place.

    But I do applaud its politics -- revolution, equality, and the idea that the ultra-rich inhabitants of Area 1 (aka Republicans / Tories) are so evil that they like to see children slaughter each other. So if more teenagers get to see this in their formative years, that can only be a good thing!

    (Incidentally, I think the comparisons to Twilight are unhelpful -- Twiglet is pretty terrible in many ways, but that is exactly what give it its infuriating, bonkers charm. They do both feature independent female leads, but Hunger Games is a much more serious story, different in tone and intention. Functioning as a piece of agitprop, it is more like Labour-friendly Harry Potter.)

  • Comment number 85.

    I have to concur with earlier posters that I'm slightly incredulous that the makers of the film have apparently never heard of Battle Royale. The Hunger Games is clearly a different story, but I don't see the problem with one story being influenced by another (and admitting that this is the case)....

    And speaking of influences..... I'm surprised that no-one has mentioned Stephen King's 'The Long Walk' as a very early example of the 'in-the-near-future-the-death-of-young-people-as-entertainment' motif....

  • Comment number 86.

    Are you seriously telling me both the author, and especially the director knew nothing of Battle Royale?? Pah.....

  • Comment number 87.

    It is silly to claim that the film was a victim of censorship, clearly the book is most widely read by young teenagers who would not be able to see the film is it was given a 15 thus the film would lose lots of potential profits. It is a marketing decision, plain and simple.

    The film itself is good, Jennifer Lawrence is superb in playing a strong, brave female character. I myself wasn't shocked by the violence as much as you were, but there was one scene in which a contestant's neck was broken which did shock me, that must of pushed the boundaries of as 12A rating considerably. Though I have to say the shaky camera was beyond annoying.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ArchStanton 83. - "I have very fond memories of getting into a few 15, then later, 18 certificate films before I legally should have"

    I believe Dr kKermode did the very same thing himself!

  • Comment number 89.

    #86 Sulksy

    I haven't seen THG, but have BR on DVD, and when I saw the former's trailers I agree that it seems impossible to believe that BR was not in their conscious somewhere, but given the notorious resistance to foreign language/subtitled films in the USA, who knows?

    I guess if you take the current competitive/reality TV far enough, then children killing each other to win is the ultimate end-game.

  • Comment number 90.

    I don't see how this can be described as censorship, or even self censorship. Is there not a good chance we are going to see the full uncut versions of these films in a couple of months on DVD anyway? We should at least be grateful that the BBFC is open and honest about the process and what and why they have cut.

    Also, while I am past that age myself, I would feel sorry for anyone under the age of 15 who was a fan of the books of either of these films who wanted to see the movies, and would be unable to if they were not awarded 12As.

    Its easy for any adult to complain about toning down of movies for BBFC certificates, when they can go and see any film that they like, as well as drink, drive and fill their weekends with any number of other activities those under 15 cannot.

  • Comment number 91.

    If we’re looking at influences on THG - the idea of one city giving up it’s young people as sacrifices goes all the way back to the Greeks and the Theseus and the Minotaur legend.

    Death fights on reality TV ~ Swarzenegger’s the Running Man pretty much defined that genre. ‘Win the crowd’ ~ Ollie Reed’s advice to Crowe in Gladiator.

    A strong ‘Femcho’ lead, well, most action movies since Cameron’s Terminator films and Ripley in Alien & Aliens.

    Rebellion against a tyrannical state – Orwell’s 1984 & Kuberick’s Spartacus pretty much set the benchmarks there.

    I have a problem with the 12A certificate, namely that kids of all ages are allowed in if accompanied by an adult. Both 12 and 12A categories are designated as: “These categories are awarded where the material is suitable, in general, only for those aged 12 and over.”

    When I saw Dark Knight there were some mums and their entire brood in the audience, including children clearly aged around 5 or 6yrs. The younger ones became quite upset during the more violent parts.

    If 12A is to mean anything then it should mean no child under 12 is allowed in.

    As for cuts to obtain a 12A certificate; it’s the distributer’s choice. They could have released it with a 15 cert; but lost some of the audience. Why are films produced? To make money.

  • Comment number 92.

    Hey DR K, Hmmm I've not read the book, but heard the buzz from the US ticket sales. So went along not knowing anything about it. To me it was distinctly average ... nothing new here. But I think importantly .. the subject matter and rating I think are fighting against each other. The subject is fairly violent and no real violence is shown ... just alot of eye-straining, stomach churning hand held wobble cam shots at moments of potential blood-letting. That in itself made it a hard watch ... my old eyes couldn't keep up. The majority of films it seems to "borrow" from are alot more violent ... and I think work better for it ... the Hunger Games was abit of a damp squib in comparison.

    So I think as the main elements of the film were violent ... then reducing the cert to 12A means that the film loses its impact ... I think maybe better if you believed the violence ... re: Resevoir Dogs ear amputation ... which you don't actually see (was it cut?) but its impact is 1000% more effective than all of the violence in HG added up and times by a million... because you brought into the characters and you believed it was going to happen ..maybe due to the precedeing violence? . The Hunger Games had no real look away moments ... maybe it would be different if I was 12?... But there are some subjects I think you just have to wait until you are old enough to see and trying to water down to 12A just doesn't work that well. Still leads many more opertunities for multiple DVD/BlueRay versions in the comming months! After all they dumbed it down for sales purposes ... so I assume they will exploit a full gore cut at some stage also!

  • Comment number 93.

    My question is, does a couple of seconds really matter? It seems to me that the BBFC is just trying to protect itself from criticism by suggesting a few seconds of cuts to make it seem like they're telling parents "here, we've made it suitable for your kids, you can't complain about the content now".

    Cutting a few seconds out because it's a "bit over the top"(it's hardly going to turn into Hannibal in the deleted few seconds, is it?) is just pretty and stinks of protecting people's interests and is completely wrong in my opinion.

    They need a new tagline for 12A.

    12A-12, "At your own risk".

  • Comment number 94.

    I stumbled across the books about 2 months ago. I'd seen the titles on bookshelves and mentally made a note to research what they were about. I was aware that the film was coming up as well and ended up reading the first book not really being aware that it was aimed at teenagers.

    I should point out that I am a 41 year old male at this juncture and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was a fast and thought provoking read. Obviously I snapped up the remaining two books and read them straight through. In short, I loved them. I loved them in part because they reminded me of a time in my life when I was younger, my teenage years and the sorts of films and books I used to read back then. As a teenager of the 80's, I'd have loved to have this type of book and resulting film to read and watch back then.

    I did worry how the film makers and BBFC would approach the film but I believe all parties have done the right thing here. While going through the books, my 9 year old daughter wanted to know what I was reading, as I'd talked about it, and she wanted to see the film. I said that I would see the film first to check it out and would think about taking her to see it. Knowing the film had been cut and toned down, I feared the worst for the film but I have to say, compared with the imagery of the book, the film plays it incredibly safe (and well) given the subject matter. The violence is shot tight and nothing is lingered on. Also there is some rather creative use of sound to lessen the impact of some of the deaths so on balance, I had no worries about taking my daughter to see the film. I know this might not be the case with most parents, but I work as a cinema projectionists and films are a large part of my free time at home and my kids do get to see 12 cert DVD's etc. I make a point of taking about films to my kids and they have known about my interest in the making of films and that they are not 'real' from an early age. This is why I know I can confidently take my 9 year old to see a film like this without being overly concerned. Having said that, I would not necessarily be happy about a bunch of 12 years old's going to see it without some sort of responsible adult supervision. The film is dark and the themes touched upon are aimed more at the older teen and adult.

    Anyway, my daughter enjoyed the film and was glad to have been able to see it. We have talked about the various aspects of it over the last few days and she's looking forward to seeing it again on BluRay in a few months.

    Hopefully, the 'uncut' version will be made available for home viewing as well. Not that I'd be running to show my daughter that version but just so that I, as an adult, can have the choice. If the extended or uncut version can eventually find it's way onto DVD, I'd say well done to Lionsgate and the BBFC for tackling what is essentially difficult source material, and acting thoughtfully and sensitively towards the end product.

  • Comment number 95.

    The 4 notes of music that play at the end of this vid sound like the first 4 notes of Simon Bates's Our Tune.

    Did Simon Bates have something to do with the Hunger Games?

  • Comment number 96.

    I plan to see it this Thursday in IMAX prior to the midnight for Wrath of the Titans IMAX 3D.

    I don't think it's that big a deal when you're shaving only a few seconds of material or just darkening some blood. Why should you restrict your audience when it boils down to only a few seconds worth of material?

    For the US, if the difference between an R and PG-13 is a few seconds; personally I'm fine with making the cuts if the parties are agreed to it. Looking back at Drag Me To Hell, Sam Raimi said that the PG-13/R differences were so minor making it PG-13 to expand the audience wasn't a problem.

    Then of course the home video distributors get to put 'Unrated Director's Cut' or 'Special Extended Cut' on the Blu-Ray/DVD cause it looks good.

    The goal of any filmmaker should be to get their film to be seen by the largest audience possible. And if taking off a few seconds to reach that largest audience, then unless they feel they must maintain those few seconds; cut them out. In the age of DVD/Blu-Ray; that material will be restored.

    Now if it's a difference of a few minutes or slashing out entire sequences that damage the film; then no. Keep the original rating and release the film as intended.

    But a few seconds; not worth while.

  • Comment number 97.

    I'll be seeing the film tomorrow, but on the general point of cuts and ratings, I think it's about time we simply did away with the blunt instrument of the age ratings entirely and just used the excellent detailed information that the BBFC provide. With that level of information it should be up to an adult to decide what they're prepared to watch, or for a parent to decide what they should allow their children to see.

    The age ratings aren't even particularly useful guidance for anyone trying to make a proper judgement - I know adults who have no problem with sex, drugs and swearing (on screen, at least), but don't get on at all well with violence, even '12A' violence.

    I find the attitude that one group of people should feel able to impose their views about what is 'suitable' on other adults (including parents deciding for their children), to be rather hubristic and patronising. Give me good information so that I can make my own informed judgement, yes, force me to go along with yours, no.

  • Comment number 98.

    Hunger Games- Lawrence is excellent, she is the film. Tucci is very good as the the cynical host.The film is very good, but it has an annoying habit of just stopping for a while before picking up again.It should have been thirty minutes shorter.
    Its intersting to compare Hunger with Royale. Lawrence is better than everyone in Royale, but Royale is easily the better film. Its tighter and has wonderful social comment about the teenagers relationships when facing life or death situations.
    I like the fact that twelve year olds can see this or The Women in Black legally on the big screen. The Women in Black freaked me and both my kids out. Our nerves were shot for hours.We all loved it! It put Hostel ,which didnt scare me once, to shade.
    I wish i`d seen quality horror like this when i was twelve, fair play to them.

  • Comment number 99.

    I read the Hunger games series a month ago & saw the movie this afternoon.
    The Canadian version carried a ‘Parental Guidance’ rating. I don’t have a problem with minor tweaking for certification. Anyone interested will eventually see the movie in the original uncut form, the director’s cut, ad infinitum once the DVDs come out.

    I found both Hunger Games and, ironically, John Carter (from where?) suffered the same problem- overly long movies with too much minor detail. A classic case for ‘cutting your babies’. Hunger Games would have benefited by a ruthless culling of sub-plots to strengthen a few basic story lines; the hunger and starvation in the districts, opposed to the wealth of food available in Panem, and Katniss’ emotional growth & development during the story.

    If the producers wanted all detail of the books they should have created a television mini-series, in which each sub-plot could be lovingly examined.

    Regardless of the flaws the movie has enough resonance with the viewer to deserve it’s success, but it is best seen after reading the book.

  • Comment number 100.

    Not a fan of the film OR the cuts made solely to get more kid's bums on seats.

    Cutting or toning down a 'disturbing'/horror film is pointless and ultimately alienates the audience.

    As an example, who here would go and see John Carpenter's 'The Thing' if it was a 12A? Cutting it so much would do a terrible disservice to the director's and and writer's vision.

    The same applies to the currently unrated Prometheus - if that's released as anything less than an 18 then I WILL boycott it.


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