Violence In Film

Harvey Weinstein wants to distance himself from the über violence he’s been producing, and Schilling for the last decade plus. As a Hunger Games themed blog I have to put my two cents in about this, because while Harvey has been producing, and promoting some of the most violent, and the most highly praised films of the last several years– he’s also totes BFFs with Jennifer Lawrence, AKA our Katniss Everdeen the Heroin of one of the most violently themed series’ to come out in eons.

Weinstein did not produce nor does he have a hand in any of the future Hunger Games films, but since he’s pretty much the Dogs Tuxedo in Hollywoodland, and has spent time braiding Jen’s hair, and talking about boys over pizza, and in their jammies– I’d say his new stance may have after effects on the way Mockingjay is received. Or, okay… probably not at all.

BFFs!

BFFs!

The way I see it is this, The Hunger Games series, either in book form, or film form in comparison to the extremely violent fare that’s been pummeled on our heads for the last few years, it’s um– kind of tame. Okay, the films so far are anyway, but the books, especially Mockingjay are full on bang, bang, shoot ’em up, blow ’em up– good damn times. For instance pretty much everything that takes place outside of District 13, minus Peeta losing it and showing his brand new shiny shiny colors, is non-violent where it comes to the confrontational kind– i.e in your face. But then there’s basically a free for all where it comes to vomit inducing violence, so vomit inducing in fact that Katniss herself can’t hold in her cookies and throws up all over her bodyguard, who later in the story gets his legs blown off in a blaze of bloody glory— outside of District 13.

I’m frankly a bit confused by Weinstein’s brand new stance, especially since he’s made his bread and butter, and more butter off of some of the most violent films to date. Including Django Unchained and Inglorious Bastards, which you don’t even have to open your eyes to see the violence, the sound affects alone tell you some pretty horrible shit is going down. Which brings me back to Mockingjay, there’s not a lot that they’re going to be able to get away with where it comes to violence, especially since it will absolutely be rated PG-13 here in the USA. I even know for a fact that with Catching Fire some of the more extensively violent scenes, i.e. the Bloodbath in the arena were shot, but ended up being cut either to appease the ratings boards, or for time. Here’s the question though– do we want the films to be as violent as they could be, do we want them to be Django level gruesome– are we desensitized enough like the Capitol citizens we’re repeatedly told we’re on the way to becoming, to take in Jena Malone being water boarded, or seeing a man in his prime getting his legs blown off, or seeing Sam Claflin ripped to shreds by a pack of genetically engineered monsters? 

I have no bloody clue, but Weinstein’s new POV isn’t going to change much for me.

Them There Eyes

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8 comments

  1. Like you said, I don’t think this is relevant at all to the HG movies, but I for one am glad that they have to be PG-13’ed down in terms of the violence, and in terms of what they actually show. I appreciate the plot-relevance, but I also can’t stand too much blood, gore, or mutilation (which is why I refuse to watch things like the Saw or Hostel movies). It just skeeves me out (unless it’s Tarantino-levels of blood bursts, which are just too ridiculous to take seriously. In a good way). I even have to look away or close my eyes during the too-graphic surgeries on Grey’s Anatomy or ER. And that part in CF where Katniss has to fall, then lands right on her heel and tailbone? Makes me wince every time.

    But anyway, I’m sure the Mockingjay team will be able to portray the horror and all-around terribleness of war, while keeping the violence from being distracting, as well as in the PG-13 range.

  2. To be honest, I trace back everything Weinstein does or says to his current Oscar campaigns. And which Best Picture contender did Weinstein produce this year? Philomena – one of the most harmless and uplifting movies of the season. (It is actually a beautiful movie to be fair, and one that you can even watch with your gradma.) Harvey is not going to make any violent movies – until Tarantino decides to make The Hateful Eight after all, because then I guarantee that Harvey will be there, begging for the rights. The guy can’t be trusted. 🙂

    While the discussion on violence in movies is an interesting one, and the violence in Mockingjay is important, we’re pretty much doomed by our PG-13 rating.

  3. I checked out the list of films and TV series Weinstein has produced and it’s pretty eclectic.

    I don’t know Weinstein or his work well enough to say he’s being hypocritical, but in the CNN interview he does seem to be making an important distinction between violence that is mindless shoot-em-up garbage and on-screen violence that is a way of telling a story that’s true to reality. He uses the example of Lone Survivor, which he did not produce but does admire, as the kind of film violence that is justified. I would add to that list films such as Saving Private Ryan and Zero Dark Thirty. I found both incredibly painful to watch, but I came away with an understanding of how and why we humans act as we do (for good or ill) in the heat of battle or in the intensity of a hunt for a true killer.

    What I really hate is mindless cartoon/CGI violence in films aimed at children: going way back…when Wile E. Coyote chases the Road Runner off a cliff and the bird goes splat and then gets up to run again, that’s sending a subliminal message that violence has no real consequences. My father, a WW2 vet who was a TV producer, never let us kids watch cartoons for this very reason. (When I watched later as an adult I decided he was right.)

    All I hope for Mockingjay is that it clearly shows the consequences of war and the errors that both sides can make for the sake of just causes or in the face of severe provocation.

  4. Thanks for the link, the article itself is quite fairly written, even the comments are a lot more thoughtful and reasonable than the usual polarized debate. I think it’s naive to deny there is some correlation between media violence and real violence, but then on the other hand, I am familiar with Japanese media, which has a LOT of Tarantino-like ultra-violence, including Battle Royale of course, yet Japan isn’t exactly a hotbed of violence.

    I also think that there’s a difference between showing violence in a way that glamorizes or glorifies it, and showing violence as a tragedy. I haven’t been around the fandom much lately, and I admit that part of it is how it seems the general consensus is “CF movie >> THG movie”, yet I personally think the THG movie captured something the CF movie didn’t, something about the tragic nature of the Games; I still find the music-less Bloodbath scene in the THG movie to be disturbing in a way that nothing in CF compared to, even though THG did tone down much of the violence compared to the book.

    I really am interested, though, in how Mockingjay deals with this issue. Sure, the movies are rated PG-13, but it’s not just about the rating; for example, I found the PG rated, “kid’s movie” adaptation of Prince Caspian, to be very disturbing in how the kids are basically sucked into a great war with thousands of deaths on both sides, then calmly return to their boring daily school lives as if nothing ever happened (as well as the “holy war against the infidel” vibe, but that’s more an issue with the books themselves.).

    I’ve also encountered critiques of Suzanne Collins herself as being a “hypocrite” regarding the goryness of MJ, and that was with no visual depictions of such violence to go by at all. Even though I think most fans got the message about the toll of violence on all involved. I think one big difference is, is the violence shown from the POV of the perpetrator, or the victim? Especially when our “heroes” like Katniss are the perps? The scene I’m most interested in seeing where this issue is concerned, actually, is the one where Katniss shoots down the unarmed Capitol woman; far from the goriest scene in MJ, but it’s one that made many fans turn against Katniss.

    1. I second that the bloodbath in THG is more disturbing than CF and for me its not because it shows kids murdering kids but more on how it was edited and how it came out. Though the cornucopia bloodbath in both time highlights the urgency of killing for survival, THG’s depiction is so visceral that its shows tragedy as you put it rather an eliciting action/adventure vibe or feeling associated on seeing killings on an action/adventure clip. The closest comparison that I can think of is that THG is delivered and elicits in the audience a feel of watching a live war footage whereas CF to me elicits a reaction close to what I feel when walkers are being killed off in The Walking Dead. I have nothing against TWD, in fact I follow it… it is just the closest analogy I can think of now. And rest in peace Philip Seymour Hoffman.

      1. Thanks for the reply/support! ITA that parts of THG feel like “live war footage”. Now, of course THG wasn’t perfect, but (and I know I’m in the minority on this too), I think the whole “shaky cam” technique really added to the sense of tragedy.

        Now, I’m not saying CF should be in the same category as the stereotypical “action movie” that most people seem to think of when violence in film is mentioned. The whole idea that the “real enemy” is not Katniss’s fellow tributes, is certainly hammered home there – for example, I loved how movie!Finnick is the one to remind Katniss who the “real enemy” is. But some of the more action-oriented scenes, especially in D12, seemed more “conventional”, for lack of a better word.

        For example, in the CF movie, Gale is arrested and whipped, not for poaching, but attacking a Peacekeeper. Of course that made for more Gale action, but I felt like, “hmm, I think I’ve seen this before. The bad guy attacks an innocent little old lady, so the good guy righteously jumps in and attacks the bad guy. The bad guy gets back at the good guy for that. Hmm, seems like a standard action hero movie plot, though of course in such a movie everyone knows the good guy will eventually get back at the bad guy and live Happily Ever After, and that’s not QUITE what happens here.”

        However, Gale being whipped for a nonviolent crime that he committed simply to feed his family, and also that he acted as he did because Cray had turned a blind eye to his “crime” and had no idea Thread was in town and was going to punish him so severely, felt much more unfair to me when I read about it, than the way it went down in the movie.

        Now, who knows how Gary Ross would have handled that scene, but I am a little sad that we’ll never get to find out. I think F-Law’s vision is great in it’s own way, certainly his version of Panem, Capitol, Games, etc., was much more epic — but GR helped bring a certain poignancy to THG that I missed in the CF movie.

        1. I was reviewing my comment now and it was auto corrected by my device. I must have typed ratheran… Its was supposed to be “…that is shows tragedy as you put it rather THAN eliciting…” I’m sorry that I didn’t review my comment before publishing.

          I agree to everything you have posted above and the part “poignancy to THG that I missed in the CF movie” essentially summarized what I thought and felt too.

          PS. I am with you in the minority who liked the shaky cam on THG, though I agree on others that the initial part – the shot of district 12 as Katniss is on her what to the forest – was too shaky.

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