SOS Staff Gateway Films: Chris Clemente – ‘Battle Royale’

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Throughout November, SOS staffers will be discussing the movies that made them into film fanatics.

(click here for the full list)

Growing up, movie nights consisted of whatever was on the “New Release” shelf at the movie rental store. Summer hits, multiplex blockbusters, pretty much if it was reviewed in People Magazine it was featured during our movie nights. Luckily, movie nights came about often at the Clemente house. Sure it wasn’t the intellectual mumbo-jumbo that would make a cinephile’s heart weep, but it was quality time with the family. Not to say my parents were opposed to non-mainstream films, it just wasn’t part of their psyche. Being the type that would go to the movie theater a couple times a year, they used it to catch up with what they missed and as a form of escapism from work. Being the Mel Gibson nut my mom was, Lethal Weapon played often. Being the car fanatics my older brother and dad were, we got our need for speed with Days of Thunder. I never contested to what was watched; just found it fun and entertaining.

It wasn’t until college that I started getting into everything from the avant-garde to foreign classics, and I owe a lot of that to Battle Royale. One night of nothing to do, a group of friends decided to pop it in for a watch. Propelled right into the misadventure of the doomed teens, I was hooked. Filled with outrageous blood spraying and crazy dispositions, it was definitely something I wasn’t use to. As I came to realize its cult following, it comforted me in knowing that I wasn’t alone for liking such a film. From there I went to explore the works of Quentin Tarintino, Coen brothers, even horror and sci-fi which was shrugged away as a child. From there I enrolled into some film study courses at the university and wrote some personal reviews during my free time. I emerged as a film writer.

Recently, I decided to re-watch my beloved film, when I gained a new appreciation for it. Most apparently, the score was poetic, providing a soft balance with the brash violence of each scene. Characters, like that of Kawada, were noticeable transformed by the film’s climax. Even the forwardness that the film treats its storyline with is admirable. Battle Royale does not hand-hold the audience by explaining in detail why the students are in their untimely predicament, you just have to except it and go for the ride. It’s filmmaking like Battle Royale that allowed me to understand that the environment of the character doesn’t necessarily have to be realistic or make sense. The key to proper storytelling is follow through: Are we ever taken out of the film?, Does each decision of the script make sense to the story’s universe? I would certainly debate that those who don’t like Battle Royale aren’t fans because of its bombastic and grotesque nature, which is unarguably consistent throughout its entire structure. You may not like Battle Royale, you may even hate it, but you won’t forget it.

For certain, Battle Royale is the catalyst of my involvement with Sound on Sight. During the same time I re-watched the film, was during the same time I was aware of the site’s call for contributing writers. With the lighthouse scene still fresh in my mind, I decided to make a Top Ten Mexican Standoff list which created some controversial attention. From there I caught the writing bug, and the rest is history. I invite readers new to the film to experience something original. I hope it catches you off guard like it did with me.

Chris Clemente

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