This inaugural edition of Trailer Thursday looks at the 2000 version of the Kinji Fukasaku classic, Battle Royale.
This posting is a follow-up to the Battle Royale 3D news bit we posted last week and will serve mainly as a contrastive analysis to how the original version of the film was marketed in its native Japan. The first observation we can immediately make is how different the original trailer’s tone is from the 3D update’s. The original version starts off very somber, poe-faced even, giving basic context to the film (“At the beginning of the milennium, one nation has collapsed. Adults, who have lost hope for the future, have turned on the children and sanctioned a little game“) while the camera pulls back from a class picture of the film’s unwitting participants. Meanwhile, in the background, the distinctive “Dies Irae, Libera Me” (“Day of Wrath. Deliver me from Hell”) movement of Verdi’s “Requiem” is playing, immediately giving the sense of epic, maybe even warlike as Verdi’ s music tends to do. The trailer then takes the initial “orientation” scene with “Beat” Takeshi Kitano shouting out the rules like a drill sergeant to the students interspersed with the individual class pictures being slammed down as if playing cards. It should be noted that the class pictures look not unlike mugshots, underpinning the notion that the youth of Japan has been villified by the nation. Finally, this segment concludes violence, the killing of Fujiyoshi by Kitano’s well-aimed switch blade to the head then a tracking shot showing the aftermath of the situation and a grinning Kitano. It’s interesting to note that Fujiyoshi’s death is the one shown in the trailer. Obviously, this scene is meant to have a consequential “kill or be killed” effect on the students, but it’s also the quickest in the entire movie. The other scenes of violence and death are prolonged, mainly to focus on the drama of the situation. Death and killing in Fukasaku’s movies is rarely without some significance though, and this scene Battle Royale is no different. Fujiyoshi’s killing and the chaos it causes foreshadows the violence and chaos that will later ensue in the film.