Put simply, No.
Today I finished reading The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. A novel that it set in the future, where North America has been divided up into “districts” and where every year 2 children from each district, 1 boy and 1 girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen at random to fight to the death in an arena, where only 1 can survive.
But you probably know that already. The film adaptation of the book has been doing remarkably well globally and the distributors of the film are so keen to release the second of the trilogy that the director has reportedly left as he wants extra time to make the sequel “Catching Fire”. However, Lionsgate are not prepared to wait.
With The Hunger Games and it’s author getting a lot of publicity thanks to the film, there have been some staggering accusations around the theory that the plot was plagiarised, due to the similarities to the film, adapted from the book of the same name ‘Battle Royale’, the Japanese masterpiece which is directed by the late Kinji Fukasaku.
Now, I’m a bit bias, Battle Royale is one of my favourite films of all time, but I don’t for a second believe that this has been a deliberate act of “nicking the plot”.
In Battle Royale, a law is passed where a class is taken every year to a secluded island where they have 3 days to kill each other off. They are given a mystery pack which will have a decent weapon in or a phoney one. The law is passed as a reaction to the fact that children have little or no respect for their elders, running rampant. Therefore this law is passed – Okay, 1 problem; When the children arrive on the island (after being tricked into thinking they are going on a field trip they are gassed and awake to find the game is about to begin) shocked, the children have never even heard of the law. Therefore what’s the point of it? The law is there to perhaps scare children into stepping into line – but clearly it’s not working. However, apart from the it’s still a brilliant film.
The Hunger Games deals with this plot point, Whether Panam (the name of the new North America) is a totalitarian society, I really can’t say – I can’t remember if the book addresses it, and I’ve not seen the film) but The Hunger Games, however barbaric, are a fact of life, the norm- it is entertainment for the population who, it is suggested have no choice but to watch. There are some very strong themes here that are evident in George Orwell’s 1984 and of course, The Running Man, a film which places convicts into an arena in a game show environment, a futuristic Gladiator if you like, where they become celebrities as they battle to the death.
The only real similarity that is evident between The Hunger Games and Battle Royale is the fact that the people fighting for survival are children, the element of celebrity is touched on in BR, but in Hunger Games are a larger theme; turning the idea that in the brutal fight to the death, celebrity is still as important as ever.
I’m not going to give away spoilers – or any more than I already have, but I would certainly agree that this is a book to read. I’m not sure what happens in the next two third of the trilogy, but I’ll start reading Catching Fire.