I will be supremely disappointed if this turns out to be true. But not because of not wanting to see a rated R movie. It goes much deeper than that.
While there is a lot of dying, etc, in the Hunger Games, it isn't explicit. It's implied. This is a tactic which makes the books so much better than a cheap shocker novel. When you can imagine the scene for yourself, it's so much more deeply personal. And therefore much more effective.
I've tried to explain this about a thousand times, and it never has really worked. But today I found a quote that does a much better job that I can. Obviously, his context is the creation of a horror novel, but the point is exactly the same.
"How many times have you been disappointed by a motion-picture adaptation of a favorite horror novel? The reason is usually simple: the pictures were those of the director's choosing, not those you had seen with your mind's eye while reading the book."Reading is an intimate act, a sharing of imagination by a writer and reader. Its power is undoubtedly heightened when the subject involves our deepest and darkest fears. When a writer chooses explicit images, spelling out horrors, he (like a film director) provides the picture, depriving the reader of the opportunity to share in the act of creation. Reading explicit fiction is thus a passive act, a take-it-or-leave-it proposition that may soon cause the reader to lose interest in you and your story."But there is a more fundamental objection to explicitness. Too many purveyors of the "gross-out" are working from the proposition that the purpose of horror fiction is to shock the reader into submission. They indulge in the cheap tactic that motion-picture directors call "pop ups": the hand thrusting into view, the sudden close-up of a ravaged corpse. But shock is a visceral experience, a sensory overload from which most of us recover quickly, with a laugh or a scream."Great horror fiction is rarely about shock, but rather the more lasting emotions; it digs beneath our skin and stays with us. It is proof that an image is only as powerful as its context. Stylists such as Ramsey Campbell and Charles L. Grant can invoke more terror through a lingering shadow, a fugitive stain, than most "splatter" films can produce with gallons of spilled blood. That power - not only to scare, but also to disturb, a reader, to invoke a memory that will linger long after the pages of the book are closed - is the true goal of every writer of horror fiction."
- Douglas E. Winter
THAT is why I sincerely hope that the Hunger Games movie is not rated R. Because if it is, it means they've sold out. It means they've spelled out everything for us. They've gone for the blood and gore and slasher movie shocks that will completely cheapen the story.
Instead of a lasting impression that causes us to re-evaluate ourselves and our lives, all we'll get is a few buckets of cheap special effects and a gag-reflex or two. I want a life-changing movie, not a gross-out party.
I'll be mad if it's rated R because it will mean that hollywood has, once again, completely destroyed a perfectly good series just to make a couple bucks.