From The Hunger Games to Utøya and The Hate U Give: how cinema declared war on the young

A new wave of films and docudramas offer a raw vision of adult violence against children. What does the on screen bloodletting tell us about how we live now?

The facts are public knowledge. On 22 July 2012, wearing a police uniform bought online, Anders Behring Breivik took the ferry MS Thorbjørn to the island of Utøya, north-west of Oslo. There, teenagers were attending a summer camp organised by the Norwegian Labour party. Two hours earlier, Breivik had detonated a car bomb outside the office of the prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, killing eight people. Now, in the course of just over an hour, he shot dead 69 more. The majority of the victims were in their teens.

Two films now return us to that day. The British director Paul Greengrass brings us 22 July; Utøya – July 22 is by Norwegian director Erik Poppe. Poppe’s Utøya takes place ...