Monday, 23 April 2012
So back to Battle Royale. As always it filled me with emotion, it tugged at my heartstrings, made me really feel for a lot of these characters and invoked anger and grief even though I knew what was going to happen. The girls with the megaphones, the lighthouse scene and poor Shinji, Iijima and Yutaka's end, are all very poignant, tragic and memorable scenes. The entire movie is memorable of course, with Takako, Mitsuko and Kazuo offering the violence and shock value, for different reasons.
This film isn't just mindless violence, rather it's a film about politics, the emotions and relationships between people, loyalty, betrayal, the depths of one's mind and the unfairness of the world. You feel and understand Shuya's outrage and confusion as he ponders over Yukie's line 'Do you know what that means?' wondering about it in a new context. No longer wondering about Yukie's hints to him that she liked him, he now wants to know what the game means. What purpose could such violence possibly serve, and is it worth it in the end? For Shogo the answer is yes, his being forced to play the game, his pain and his ultimate death were worth it in the end because he helped beat the game and solved the mystery of Keiko's smile, that is assuming that Keiko was even real. The movie is never clear on Shogo's motivations and what is truth and what is not with him, he changes his father's profession continuously (doctor, chef, fisherman) but Kitano mentions Keiko, implying that that story was true.
Through Shogo, Noriko and Shuya, and to a lesser extent, Shinji, Iijima and Yutaka, and even Hiroki Sugimura we have hope. Shogo promises a way off the island for Noriko and Shuya and delivers, although at a heavy cost to himself. Noriko preserves her innocence, escaping the island without having to kill anyone, thanks to Shogo and Shuya, thus proving you can leave the game unscathed.
Shinji, Iijima and Yutaka are successful in hacking the system, although later we see that the guards overcome this but perhaps if Kazuo had not brutally gunned them down they might have been able to successfully take advantage of this. Hiroki makes his way through the violent island to find the girls who matter most to him and he succeeds and saves Shuya from Kazuo along the way, even managing to drag Shuya from the ocean and to the lighthouse where he finds shelter for him. Unfortunately, Hiroki is too late to save Takako though he does manage to say farewell to her and he is ultimately killed by his love Kayoko Kotohiki, who had no idea he even liked her. Admittedly this does taint a lot of the hope found in the film, making it deceptive, you want to believe Shinji and the others will make it but unfortunately the unpredictable nature of the game ruins their chances as they are mercilessly cut down by Kazuo.
Without an army, these pair have no chance, an idea that THG and BR II touched upon. I have never seen BR II due to the poor ratings so I can't tell you how well this film focused upon that. So Battle Royale concludes with lives needlessly and tragically lost, some through suicide but most through murder carried out by their own friends (as well as a psychopath) and the only two survivors are forced to survive as wanted criminals, a bitter reward for surviving the game.