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.

  • Christine

    Great article. I absolutely loved the Hunger Games and thought they managed to convert the ideas of the book neatly onto film.

    Should it have been a 15? I don’t think so. I am always of the opinion that we forget how grown up our minds were at the age of 12. I remember feeling insulted because I was not allowed to watch Braveheart (much more gruesome) when I was about that age, and I managed to get a peak at it and it didn’t affect me at all. This is nowhere near as bloodthirsty.

    Having said that… I watched the last Twilight film that came out and there were some 10 year olds in the cinema and I am not joking when I say that there were bits I simply could not watch. The end scene especially was really disgusting and had I been twelve I am sure that I would not have been able to deal with that very well. I struggled now!

    Anyway, nice article. Keep it up.

  • Kat

    My only issue with this article is the lack of basic fact checking; the nation is Panem and Katniss was the first volunteer for district 12 not for the games in general – in some of the districts (1, 2 and 4 mainly) volunteers are common due many of the children in these districts being trained specifically for the games (known in the books as ‘careers’). If you’re going to write an article about a subject as popular as the Hunger Games film/books at least do some basic research. Otherwise not a bad article.

  • James

    It’s not necessarily about the amount of gore but the content which should determine the rating. I saw this tonight and there is no way it should have been lowered to 12A even with its current content. There were children as young as 10 in there with their parents and if I had been one of them parents I would have walked out. Kids killing other kids is not a topic suitable for children to watch.

  • Carly Balmforth

    Thanks for your comments. My inspiration for writing this article was based on people’s opinions of the film and its rating, and so it’s great to get some more views on it. I still stick by my initial statement that the film should be a 15. I completely agree with James, in that it is the theme rather than the actual content, which would justify the higher classification. However, as I mentioned in my article, there doesn’t seem to be any controversy surrounding the books and I can only assume that this same theme runs throughout?

    Kat, you mention that there is an issue with the lack of fact checking. I wasn’t aware of the fact that there were volunteers before Katniss and so yes, I agree, I should have done some more research into this. Also, my use of Panem instead of Palem was not down to a lack of fact checking as it was a typo, but this is something which I should have come across when proof reading. Obviously in future I need to re-read my articles more than once!

    Thanks again for all of your comments, I really appreciate the feedback!

  • Loved your article. I thought the Hunger Games was a great film, but then I do enjoy that kind of stuff.

    I think that the 12A rating was all wrong. The way I understand things, films are rated in terms of what is shown. While the Hunger Games does not show gratuitous violence (unlike, say Battle Royale) pretty messy things are implied throughout. The issues it deals with, political, philosophical etc. are not issues your average 12 year old knows anything about.

    Being cynical here, I’m thinking that the producer and co. realised that the 13 year old girl market was the one that must be tapped into, and made the film so that it scraped into the desired category. I still feel that the content is clearly not appropriate.

    Happily I am not a 13 year old girl, and thus was free to enjoy the film!

  • Dean

    I was 12 when i watched it and the content did not bother me in fact it had a good storyline and i enjoyed it I also read the books

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