Parents and children have long disagreed over the definition of appropriate, but intergenerational struggles over “The Hunger Games,’’ which is based on the first book in Suzanne Collins’s blockbuster young adult trilogy, are particularly intense.
A big part of the problem is that many fourth- and fifthgraders have read the novels and therefore feel they have earned the right to see the film. (The books themselves are a continuing source of familial conflict, since young adult novels are generally recommended for readers ages 12 to 17.)
The story, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, in a country called Panem, follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, one of 24 teens battling to the death in a televised contest. the Motion Picture Association of America gave the film a PG-13 rating for “intense violent thematic material and disturbing images.’’
Children don’t like to hear it, but specialists say that reading about violence isn’t as scary as watching it. “It’s a gut experience as opposed to a head experience,’’ said Michael Rich, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center on Media and Child Health. “A movie is very direct. You are seeing it, you are hearing it, as compared with translating it from black ink on a page into something in your own mind.’’
Last week, the British Board of Film Classification demanded that the distributor of “The Hunger Games’’ cut out seven bloody seconds or face a 15A rating (meaning moviegoers 15 and under would need to be accompanied by an adult), a demand that Lionsgate UK met, giving the film a 12A rating.
As opening day nears, fans on this side of the Atlantic know one thing: regardless of the violence, they must see the movie.
“I really want to see it, but mom says I can’t,’’ said a poised Ella Sheidley, 7, of Newton. “I am very mad at her.’’
To her mother’s dismay, Ella was introduced to the books by an older cousin, and her interest in the film was further piqued when she saw a poster at Legacy Place in Dedham during an outing to see “The Lorax’’.