This week our writers delve deep into the brutal fight for survival in their exploration of Kinji Fukasaka's Japanese teen-horror BATTLE ROYALE (2000).
TAKING A STAND BEFORE THE FALL
The premise of BATTLE ROYALE (Kinji Fukasaku 2000) is simplistically horrific. A class of students must murder each other until one survives. While this idea is straightforward, the ensuing decision each student makes is anything but. We are often faced with ethical dilemmas in our day to day life but never anything quite as daunting as to whether we should murder our classmates.
The film unfurls with students taking up various ethical stand points. The most common viewpoint seems to be of reflective morality. This means that what is ethically correct is not set in stone but depends on the situation. Most students take this approach when they decide whether to kill or not. They are aware that their actions are wrong but are acting in self defence, which seemingly justifies their actions.
Perhaps the most interesting of the viewpoints is that of Ogawa (Tomomi Shimaki) and Yamamoto (Yasuomi Sano) who refuse to kill regardless of circumstance. Due to this ideology, they try and escape rather than fight, which ultimately leads to their death when the pair jump off of a cliff to avoid killing their classmates. This is a form of deontological ethics, a theory that dictates it is the action itself that is the moral component, not the consequence. So in the case of BATTLE ROYALE; the act of killing is an immoral act even if the killer were to be victorious and survive the bloodbath. This is an idealistic viewpoint and one that is the basis of many legal systems. However, BATTLE ROYALE shows the futility of this view. Ogawa and Yamamoto make their stand but to what end? They are simply another two victims in the ensuing onslaught, their deaths just as tragic as that of their classmates.
Every day this week a different writer will provide their perspective on our MUBIVIEWS film and each post will be open to comments from our readers. Watch BATTLE ROYALE on mubi.com until 30 May 2017 and join the discussion!
One MUBI film, five perspectives, endless possibilities.