Nothing makes moviegoers squirm like watching children die on the big screen. As The Hunger Games--in which 24 children are forced to fight to the death--hits theaters today, will it prove too much for viewers? Film historian Joseph McBride talks us through the flicks that have successfully depicted this sensitive subject matter.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
In the film, an exploding bomb kills a young boy, a scene Hitchcock later called his greatest mistake (though the film is considered a classic). It inspired his "bomb theory," which suggests that a bomb, when introduced to the plot, must never go off: "[The audience will] get angry," he said, "because you haven't provided them with any relief."
Director: Steven Spielberg
Spielberg was going for the emotional jugular when he chose to show a young boy attacked and killed by a shark in the now-classic film. "It was considered ultraviolent in its day," McBride says, but notes that it was a necessary plot point, not just for show. "It forces Roy Scheider's character to realize that he is failing his community."
Director: Clint Eastwood
With a focus on mortality and the afterlife, the movie features a character struggling to accept her survival of a tsunami, in which she was unable to save the life of a small girl. "Eastwood asks the audience to consider the possibility of psychic connections," says McBride, "but he does it in a human way rather than proselytizing."