Lionsgate UK have opted to cut seven seconds from The Hunger Games in order to attain a 12A certificate. According to the BBFC's report:
This work was originally seen for advice in an unfinished form. The company was advised that the film was likely to receive a 15 certificate but that their preferred 12A classification could be achieved by making a number of cuts and visual reductions. When the finished version of the film was submitted for formal classification, cuts had been made in four scenes of violence and in one scene showing details of injuries.
A 15 certificate would have prohibited anybody under the age of 15 from seeing the film. With a 12A, even the youngest children can be taken to see the film by their parents. Essentially, the film is now being deemed "child friendly" with a clause putting responsibility onto the kids' guardians.
Another way to put that is: children can be admitted to this new version at their parents' discretion, but the uncut version would have remained completely out of bounds. It's these seven seconds that are being kept away from the under fifteens by law.
So the cuts were apparently made across five scenes in total, with a number in one sequence specifically designed "to reduce the emphasis on blood and injury."
Other alterations were made digitally, with some shots darkened and the digital removal of blood from weapons and wounds.
Essentially, the film's images have been sanitised while the core concept – the exploitation of society's young in violent tournaments of murder – remains untouched. In effect, the film has had its portrayal of violence and brutality made more palatable with the goal of a wider audience, and the ticket sales that follow.
A disgusting goal, really. Surely these images and ideas deserve to be as hard hitting and shocking as the narrative requires – not to mention as the film's director intends?
The BBFC and film distributors have regularly conspired to bring the visual representations of violence in films down to an "unthreatening" or "not scary" level. The real horror and brutal consequences of violence are so often cut away, leaving something softened and, some might argue, irresponsible in their place. I'm always appalled.
I will be very interested to hear what Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins have to say about this, though it could be some time before they're able to speak with total openness on the matter. The Capitol is watching their every move…