Hunger Games, Young Children

Young children are depicted being murdered in The Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and “The Hunger Games,” are winning millions of fans around the world, but some parents are shocked by scenes of murder and bloodshed. They say the film is too graphic for young teens.

Lawrence plays heroine Katniss Everdeen, one of 24 “tributes” who must fight to the death in the annual games, which are staged by the brutal dictatorship of Panem.

The film is rated PG-13, which allows teens to see the film without being accompanied by an adult.

The protest is worldwide, with many of the complaints emanating out of Britain. The film has a similar rating, known there as “12A.”

Parents’ groups there say the film should be rated a “15,” which would be equivalent to an “R” rating in the United States. An “R” rating would require teens to see the film with an adult and would limit its run in theaters.

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The rating is controversial because the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings board gave the Weinstein Co. documentary “Bully” an “R” rating simply because it contains the F-word.

Proponents of the film, about schoolyard bullying, protested that “The Hunger Games” received a more lenient rating, despite its high level of violence. “Bully” opens Friday (Mar. 30).

The Hunger Games set box office records for a March opening during its debut weekend. It earned an astonishing $214 million worldwide over the weekend, according to studio Lionsgate. In the United States and Canada the film earned $155 million, topping Robert Pattinson’s and Kristen Stewart’s “Twilight” franchise.

(Spoiler alert: Some Plot giveways ahead.)

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The combatants in the Hunger Games are between the ages of 12 and 18. They wage a bloody gladiator-style competition. In one scene, a girl screams violently as she is stung to death by wasps.

In other violent scenes, a young child is run through with a spear; another is battered with bricks and piles of bodies are shown where the fights took place.

“It is really good, but I thought it was really stretching the 12 rating. [My 12-year-old] was so distressed at one particular part, not long before the end that we had to leave the cinema,” wrote one mother on a social networking site in Britain, according to London’s Daily Mail.

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“You don’t see much gore but it’s implied and some death scenes are quite shocking. You see a lot of dead faces, and it’s very realistic. There’s one bit where the whole cinema rocked back in its seats and went “aaargh” together,” wrote another.

In a recent interview, Lawrence defended the high level of violence.

“We weren’t going to make a watered-down version of what we love. If you take the violence and brutality out of the movie, you take the entire heart out of it.”