The Hunger Games – 12A or 15?

April 8, 2012 3:33 pm

Last week I went to see The Hunger Games; a film that portrays the fictional nation of Panem and its 12 districts which are controlled by the Capitol and its totalitarian government. Each year, one male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18 from every district are selected to take part in The Hunger Games, where participants are required to fight to the death until there is only one winner. However, the 74th annual event received its first volunteer from district 12 when Katniss Everdeen put herself forward to participate in the games after her younger sister, Primrose Everdeen, had originally been selected.

The film, directed by Gary Ross, was initially certified as a 15 by the British Board of Film Classification but was then lowered to a 12A after some scenes were cut. This has caused some controversy; some people believe that the content has been restricted due to the lowered age rating while others believe that the film should have stayed at its initial 15 classification due to graphic scenes not being suitable for younger viewers.

I can definitely see both sides of the argument here. The Hunger Games is based on a series of novels written by Suzanne Collins and has been likened to the Twilight series.

The book is classed as a children’s book, and according to Collins’ website, it is aimed at those who are 12 and above; a similar target audience as the Twilight novels and films. By ensuring that the film has a 12A rating, this allows the core audience of the books to see it.

Personally, I thought the film was brilliant. It was well acted and even though it is quite long (142 minutes), it still managed to keep me interested. However, even at 21 years old I found some of the scenes quite shocking, especially during the opening of the games which can only be described as a ‘blood bath’, where many of the participants are killed in violent attacks straight away. I’m not too sure how well a 12 year old would be able to cope with these scenes, never mind anybody younger, even if they do have an adult present.

However, on the other hand, some people are complaining that due to the lower age classification the content in the film isn’t as explicit as it could have been, and that a 15 would allow for more graphic violence. But these cuts were only made in one scene, resulting in only a few seconds of content being removed from the film. So the main argument here is: should the film be a 12A? The theme of ‘kids killing kids’ is something which many parents are using as their reason for why the film should have a higher age classification.

This is the particular theme that shocked me, and I was quite unnerved throughout the film. Generally, people enjoy a film when they can relate to the characters in it. Children will be able to relate to the different personalities which are portrayed throughout The Hunger Games, and perhaps for this reason alone they will be more affected by it.

It seems strange that there aren’t any complaints surrounding the novels, and that the controversy only lies within the film. Is it different to see violence rather than read it? I have not read the books so I am unable to compare between the different types of violence which are portrayed. However, I do believe that adults should think twice before taking their young children to see this film.

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