Lord of the Flies is famed theater director Peter Brook's daring translation of William Golding's brilliant novel. The story of 30 English schoolboys stranded on an uncharted island at the start of the "next" war, Lord of ... more »the Flies is a seminal film of the New American Cinema and a fascinating anti-Hollywood experiment in location filmmaking. As the cast relived Golding's frightening fable, Brook found the cinematic "evidence" of the author's terrifying thesis: there is a beast in us all.« less
Excellent, durable version of the Novel. Better than remake.
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 08/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Lord of the Flies' has been made into a movie at least twice since the William Golding novel of the same name became a cult classic / must read volume for high school and college students in the late 1950s. The first version, which follows the novel very closely, was done in black and white by the noted director, Peter Brook in 1963. The second version was done in color by Harry Hook and released in 1990.
Like many remakes in the same language, one immediately wonders why bother, as the original Brook version is more than gripping enough to convey the message of the novel.
To highlight the differences between the two versions, let me outline the story shared by the two versions.
The scene is set when an airplane carrying school children crashes in the South Pacific, of the coast of a remote tropical island. Approximately 30 of the children, ages 6 to 13 make it to shore and gather on the beach to work out how they are to survive and assume that since they are far removed from their original destination and the island is small and uninhabited, there is a good chance it will take a long time, if ever, for grown-ups to find and rescue them. The first two principle characters are Ralph, one of the two or three oldest boys who we meet first, in the company of an intelligent, bespectacled, slightly overweight boy of the same age known as `Piggy'. The third main character is Jack, about as old and as fit as Ralph. Three minor named characters are Simon, who is prone to fainting and `seeing things' and Sam and Eric, a pair of twins.
An early vote sets up Ralph as the leader, with a few rules establishing a conch shell found by Ralph and Piggy in the first reel as the symbol of the right to speak to the gathering of boys. Jack immediately assumes the responsibility as leader of a `gang' (later to become a `tribe') of hunters who will also take responsibility for maintaining a signal fire which Ralph succeeds in lighting by using Piggy's eyeglass lens as a means of concentrating sunlight on a clump of tinder.
Jack's gang gets involved too much in hunting and allows the signal fire to go out just as an aircraft flies near the island. Soon, a story evolves about the presence of a monster on the island. This creates the pretext for Jack to split off from the group with his tribe and create a camp at a more defensible location. As this larger group becomes more and more primitive, they raid Ralph's camp and steal Piggy's specs since it is the only means they have for starting fires. To placate the monster, the head of a killed wild pig is cut from its carcass and stood on the top of a pole near the suspected monster's lair as an offering to the monster.
After a few days, Simon observes this pig's head and its very large collection of flies feasting on the festering flesh and imagines he hears the pigs head speak to him, hence, the source of the title. Simon is then killed when the hunters mistake him in the night for the monster.
When Ralph and Piggy walk to Jack's camp to recover Piggy's specs, Piggy is killed by another `accident' when Jack's tribe members pry a large boulder loose that falls on Piggy. Ralph and Jack fight, Ralph is driven off, and the whole tribe sets fire to the jungle to flush out Ralph and, presumably, kill him. Both stories end as Ralph runs to the beach to find himself at the feet of a very professionally uniformed member of his country's elite armed services.
Hook spices up the dialogue by making the boys much more hip with lots of swear words and references to contemporary popular shows such as Alf and Miss Piggy of the Muppets. Unfortunately, Hook loses the two most important elements of the whole story. In the beginning of the novel and, subtly, in the beginning of Brook's film, we see that the world is once more at war and the boys from several different schools are on a plane to Australia to find relative safety from the coming (nuclear?) conflict. Hook shows nothing of this, giving us simply a group of boys from the same military academy on a trip to goodness knows where. This totally looses the whole allegorical sense of the story where the conflict between the boys mirrors the war in the world at large, especially the sense of the last scene where the world (island) is destroyed by the conflict (fire).
The second major oversight in Hook's rendition is that there is never enough attention given to the significance of the pig's head, Simon's vision, and the sense of `The Lord of the Flies'. A less important point is that the origin of the monster myth is different in the two movies. Brook's film follows the book and has it be a misinterpretation of a billowing parachute from a fallen, dead pilot. Hook creates the myth out of the spasms of the downed plane's delirious pilot as he finds refuge in a cave and is rediscovered by Simon who believes he is a monster.
Both movies do a credible job of depicting the fall of nominally civilized boys into savagery and myth. The combat between Ralph and Jack near the end is straight out of Frazier's `The Golden Bough' on the myth of killing the king. Unfortunately, Hook's version seems as eviscerated as the pig carcass, as all the great allegorical of the original story are totally lost. And, as minimal as they were, I even think the boys' performances in Brook's version are better done, as their initial innocence in the face of this loss of civilization makes their transformation all the more interesting.
Brook's version is highly recommended. "
A Great Experience
D. St Clair | USA | 12/13/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was a pleasure to see the original version of "Lord of the Flies" again. I'll be interested in seeing the DVD version as well, to see what additional material comes in that format. Having been one of the boys in the movie, I also appreciated seeing the reviews posted by other Amazon customers! I wonder if any of the other cast members have checked out this site...I confess to liking the original version far more than the remake, but that's not surprising, I guess. I TRIED to keep an open mind when I saw the new version, but, alas, I failed. My recollections of running from the burning jungle, coughing, onto the beach at the end makes a black-and-white rendition seem more real to me."
Fantastic DVD transfer
A. L. Spieckerman | 03/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been waiting for this one to become available for awhile. The Criterion DVD has so many valuable extras. The amount and quality of commentary is exceptional. Crystal clear images! You even get Golding reading is own excerpts! As for the movie itself... It is compelling and disturbing. I wrote a review back in about December. The images grow on you and are very memorable. Outstanding filmmaking. Yes, the dialogue of the scene from the book where Simon talks to the pig is left out. I would have put it in, but the facial expression by the child is very interesting as he examines "The Lord." I've taught the novel and find this version very powerful and true to the intent of the author. The later movie version is horrendous and completely perverts the message. This is the version. The child actors are very real, the story of the filmmaking on the DVD will only further your enjoyment! A Criterion Collection Winner! My other Criterion Collection DVD, the Third Man, is also a winner. Golding Rules! Very Powerful!"
Fantastic dvd of a superb film
A. L. Spieckerman | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was terribly excited to discover that one of my favorite classic films, the 1963 Peter Brooks "Lord of the Flies" was on dvd. I was even more excited when I saw it had been given a deluxe treatment by some studio called Criterion. "Lord of the Flies" was the first dvd I bought and it introduced me to the phenomenal Criterion Collection. Every extra on this dvd is fantastic and interesting, there is no filler or meaningless praise. The commentary alone is worth the price of this dvd, it gives a magnificent insight into how this film was made: for instance, the film was one of the first independent productions ever produced. This is one of those rare commentaries that adds to your appreciation and understanding of the film, I rank it alongside "Seven Samurai" and "Grand Illusion" (also both Criterion dvds) commentaries as among the best I have heard. The film itself looks abolutely fantastic, worlds better than any vhs or laserdisc edition I had previously seen; criterion's produced an amazing, clean image that will be striking on any video set up. _Lord of the Flies_ is one of my favorite novels; Golding masterfully touched on many themes and concepts about society and managed to capture the essence of humanity in the boyish caricatures he created. For the most part those themes and ideas come across very faithfully in the film. As it is pointed out in the dvd's commentary; there is no screenwriting credit, because there was no script, the production team worked straight from the novel, using it as their sole source of the story. The result is a remarkably clear and coherent adapation of the original novel, brought to life with great faith and startling prowess for a first time filmmaker. Some technical limitations can still be seen in the final product, but they do little to detract from your enjoyment of the film. In short: a fantastic, dark, and compelling story is brilliantly brought to life in such a stark manner that it feels to viewer at times like an unfolding documentary. Finally, to top it off, the film was given a royal treatment on dvd that perfectly complements and enhances the film itself; in all, very much worth the price of admission."
Are we humans really THAT bad???
absent_minded_prof | Massachusetts | 09/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a very skillful presentation of William Golding's eponymous, timeless sociological horror story. A group of boys ranging from around 6 to, I would guesstimate, 14 or 15, are stranded on a desert island. Unfortunately for the boys, the general spirit of their story parts ways with the spirit of "Gilligan's Island" immediately, and they end up deteriorating into tribal, superstitious savages, rent with internecine strife, in a matter of (evidently) weeks.Any viewer out there who plans to see this movie should absolutely make an effort to read the book. You could possibly see the movie first, if you digest storylines more easily through movies than books. But whatever order you carry out the two activities in, you must see the movie AND read the book, if you want a full understanding of what the director was doing here.Here are a few good things to notice. First of all, you should be aware that this film was shot mostly on the islet of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico. It's hard to believe that this is true, because it's just so perfect -- Vieques is the island where the U.S. Navy practices bombing these days, and protesters against war have been getting into all kinds of clashes with the authorities the past few months (spring and summer of 2001). Maybe "Lord of the Flies" was more prophetic than the director, actors and writers ever even realized.A second thing to notice is the song that is constantly playing, throughout most of the movie. The song is "Kyrie Eleison." At first Jack's choir sings it, and then it sort of becomes general background music. If you happen not to be particularly into going to church, let me just clue you in that "kyrie eleison" is Greek for "Lord have mercy," which I think you'll agree is a chillingly apt refrain for this relentlessly dark movie.A third good thing to notice is the little boy, who progressively loses his memory of his own identity, over the course of the film. At first, he automatically recites his full name, address and phone number to any stranger he meets, as he was apparently taught to do by his parents. Midway through the film, he can remember only his name, and part of his address. By the end, not to spoil the ending by giving too much away, he cannot even recollect his name. "How quickly," one envisions William Golding bemoaning, "we forget!"But I'm just pointing out a few minor things to notice. The basic theme is obviously the clash between savagery and civilization, and the tendency for things to fall apart, for the center not to hold... George Washington himself used to say that the job of government has to do with Fear -- instilling it in possible malefactors, in enemies of the state, even in respected members of the community, just to keep everyone in line. This movie makes you think about what might happen if that force were removed from society as a whole. If the function of art is to raise awareness of painful truths, as this movie does, then the individual must be sure to bring things other than art into their lives, in order to raise awareness of kinder truths which are no less valid, no less serious, and no less important for being kind. That's what I think anyway.This is an interesting movie, and it will really make you think. Two thumbs up."