The Hunger Games has taken ahold of imaginations all across the world for its audacious story telling and controversial subject matter. Although it's an original in a number of respects, there's no doubt its characters, events, and themes have been inspired by great works that came before it. In anticipation of the release of Catching Fire later this year, here are five pieces of entertainment that we strongly suspect were on Suzanne Collins's mind while crafting her one of a kind series of novels.
Battle Royale -
It would be difficult to believe that the uber violent Japanese film Battle Royale was not a significant influence on the Hunger Games. This 2000 film, adapted from the 1999 novel of the same name, tells the story of Shuya Nanahara, a high school student who is forced to compete in a deadly televised game in which students must kill each other in order to win. Although more complex than just a straight up comedy, its depiction of violence borders on cartoonish. The film is far more graphic than Hunger Games, but being that it does not attach as much emotional weight to the situations depicted, some may find it an easier watch. The film was a blockbuster in its native country, and remains one of Japan's highest grossing films, in spite of the great deal of criticism it received.
Lord of the Flies -
Willam Golding's Lord of the Flies, widely considered to be one of the greatest American novels of the past century, is a must for fans of The Hunger Games and fans of great literature alike. It tells the story of a group of British boys stuck on an island by themselves, and the madness that ensues as they struggle to survive and maintain order amongst the group. At its heart, it's a tale of the chilling nature of conformity, and how, in the wrong situations, it can lead to disaster. Like Hunger Games, it has often been under fire for its depiction of youth on youth violence, but Flies does not trivialize this in the least. In truth it's an amazing read, and it serves as an insightful, cautionary tale of the tenuous line that keeps man from descending into savagery.
Series 7: The Contenders -
The 2001 dark comedy Series 7 is a film that was definitely ahead of its time. It follows an American reality television show called The Contenders, where six people, picked at random through a national lottery, are given a gun and are forced to hunt and kill each other for the cameras. Its protagonist is pregnant, making her by far the most vulnerable of the chosen six, and in an exceptional twist of fate, she is pitted against her former love, who is dying of cancer. The film was released just as reality television was beginning to rise in popularity, and in hindsight, it's remarkable just how much the show got right. It also features an ending that is amazingly similar to The Hunger Games in a number of respects.
The Lottery -
Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is one of the most popular short stories of all time, and like Lord of the Flies, it's simply a classic. In a small village with a population of roughly three hundred, the town's people gather for their annual event, the lottery, a local tradition that has been practiced to ensure a good harvest. In the interest of not giving any spoilers away, let's just say that the winner's prize is one you definitely wouldn't want to collect.
Village of the Damned -
Although it seems restrained by today's standards, this 1963 sci-fi horror classic came under fire upon its release for its use of children as the vessels for a murderous band of aliens that wreak havoc in the quiet British village of Midwich. Although a small handful of films had previously showcased child characters with a violent streak (most notably The Bad Seed), this was the first time a band of children were depicted in this manner, and was therefore very unsettling to many upon its release. The film has served a blueprint to many films and works of fiction over the years, as it has been echoed in not just The Hunger Games, but everything from The Shining to Poltergeist and beyond.
What works of fiction do you think The Hunger Games was inspired by?