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Japanese suspense-horror film 'Battle Royale' to screen

RELEASED: Aug. 25, 2011

Battle Royale

EAU CLAIRE — "Battle Royale" (Japan 2000) will be presented Sept. 9-11 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The last film completed by veteran filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku, the suspense-horror allegory will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. in Davies Theatre.

"A tacit indictment of Japan's competitive education system, its disaffected youth and its faded martial pride, the film was opposed and almost banned by the government," wrote The Guardian. "Naturally, it then became a massive domestic hit."

In the near future, Japan's economy has collapsed. Massive unemployment and inflation has thrown most adults into a state of chaos and the nation's youth respond with unprecedented violence and school boycotts. To restore order, the government passes the Millennial Reform School Act, a compulsory education program that culminates in a contest called Battle Royale. A typical class of middle school students is taken to a small, isolated island with a map, food and weapons of varying usefulness. Over three days they are forced to fight one another to the death until only one remains.

"With more than 40 contestants in the deadly game, this is a heart-stopping action film, teaching us the worthy lessons of discipline, teamwork and determination, but wrapping them up in a deliberately provocative, shockingly violent package," wrote the BBC.

One of Japan's most commercially successful directors — he shot the Japanese sequences for the 1970 war epic "Tora! Tora! Tora!" — Fukasaku was 70 years old when he made "Battle Royale."

"Teenage violence has become a major social problem in Japan in recent years, but the phenomenon is confusing to adults," Fukasaku said in a 2001 interview. "I have always been interested in the subject, but I am primarily a filmmaker, and I didn't know how to make a film about it in a commercial way until I found this story. How the children in the story reacted to violence reminded me of my own experiences during the second world war, when I was 15, the same age as the children in the film."

The International Film Society will present the 114-minute film, which is in Japanese subtitled in English and not rated.

Admission is free at the door with a Blugold Card or IFS membership. Community members who wish to attend campus films must purchase an annual IFS membership at the Service Center (715-836-3727) in Davies Center's east lobby. An individual membership costs $4, and a family membership is $10.

More information about the campus film series is available online and at the Activities, Involvement and Leadership office, Davies Center 133.

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JS/DW

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