Lord of the Flies

A part of this viewing list: Criterion Collection Spine #43: Peter Brook’s Lord of the Flies.

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It is tough getting children to act well; just ask anyone who’s ever had to get children to act well. A vast majority of the cast in Lord of the Flies couldn’t act their way out of a wet paper bag, but thanks to Peter Brook’s careful planning and choreographing of key scenes, and relaxed improvisational allowance in others, the awkward acting ability morphs into an appropriate skittishness for adolescent maroons. This adaptation is well on the mark of the book, with an added intensity of visceral imagery and psychological warfare that only film can provide so effectively. The main strength of the film is that it was shot entirely on location, apart from the opening montage, and the reality of the island setting feeds into the reality of the characters’ development. Without the imposing hand of civilization, regressing to a wild and savage state becomes easy.

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Lord of the Flies is not only a tract about the importance of civilization, but also an interesting thought-experiment on the emergence of new cultural forms. In the film, this is noticeable fairly soon, as the political rifts between the two leading boys, Jack and Ralph, are a microcosm of international political strife. Similarly, the creation of ritual chants and activities to ward off the beastie, and Jack’s clever manipulation of their fear to maintain control have contemporary parallels in our own country. This is no new trick, but its efficacy ensures its continued use. The cognitive dissonance and linguistic lacunae in their vocabulary after the first murder takes place is also telling in terms of their fear. Similarly, the development of face-paint and little to no clothing are marked changes from their initial school-boy attire.

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Still, there are similarities between before and after. The choirboys become the hunters and their discipline, organization, and loyalty as the latter is due directly to their training in the former. They are also the ones who create and enforce the cultural progression of the tribe of boys, while Ralph and Piggy, who’ve maintained their reason to some extent, are increasingly ostracized. All of this terror comes through strongly through the use of liberal cutting and realignments in the editing room, and the sheer amount of footage Brook had on hand to pick and choose from. The final scene is so abhorrent , as Ralph flees the other youths on all fours, much like the pig they are convincing themselves he is, that the appearance of white socks and matching deck shoes of adult proportions, and the adult that is wearing them is a great relief. The monster we’ve only caught glimpses of, the monster that was about to appear in full and terrible force, especially because of its familiarity, is slain just like that.

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23 thoughts on “Lord of the Flies

  1. tht movie was a bit strange-the book was evn stranger, but at least it covered evryhting. the movie 4got the most important(altho boring) parts

  2. I absolutely love this book and movie. The second to last paragraph of the book is so eye-opening. The book really isn’t all that strange. If boys were left on an island, this is probably what would actually happen; in fact, the split between democracy and anarchy did happen not too long ago. Also, it’s not weird that there is a pigs head on a stick because it was just an offering for the “beast”.

  3. its a great book. those who say its strange are naive. there are a lot of valuble and interesting points, because golding was a naturalist.

  4. Yes the book was written by William Golding but he got his idea for the book from Coral Island. A book that he would read to his kids before bed.

  5. oh wow…he would read a book like the lord of the flies to his kids afore bed?
    strange. a bit.
    i thought the book was amazing.
    it was way eye opening, i think it explained society
    in an obscure way. also what a society based on anarchy would be like.

  6. This book is VERY deep, it has a lot of symbols in it. Is the movie like the book? And what is the movie rated? Because I’m planning to watch it but I don’t know if it’s proper for like 12 year olds.
    You know, Joe Smith made an interesting comment: kids would not kill other kids. HOW DO YOU KNOW? Have you ever seen a bunch of kids stranded on an island before? No…I suppose not. They might. You never know-the beast might be real, existing inside all of us.

  7. im currently doing a play on this book for theatre studies and im responsible for costumes, after looking at the movie and the book im probably just gonna get school uniforms then they get destroyed as easch act goes does anyone hav any ideas on costumes for the play?

    thanks.

  8. This book was horrible. It was difficult to understand and did not demonstraite a proper use of the english language. It was boring and unrealistic. It was probably the worst book i have evr read.

  9. the book was great. i loved it. but the one thing that they changed in the movie is when they saw a plane, it was where the boat was supposed to be. like when ralph said “there was a plane” it was a boat in the book. and my one friend said she was dissapointed that the lord of the flies didnt talk to simon, but also i dont think she is good at analyzing movie but thats just me. when they killed simon,you wouldnt have known what had happened if you hadnt read the book before or until piggy and ralph talked about it.

  10. chelle, think about when this book was written

    Chazburger, i would suggest alot more make-up than worry about costumes. make-up can show un-cleanlinesss and savageness. but also tear up the costumes little by little.

  11. The novel might be well written, but it contains a deeper meaning than just bunch of kids being stuck on an island. The Lord of the Flies is microcosm of our society. By puting innocent children on an islolated island, Golding is trying comment on his view point of human nature. And that is, there is a “beast” within us and without laws and orders the beast will unleash. Overall, The Lord of the Flies a very interesting novel.

  12. This book totally captivated me. For those who managed to understand the true meaning of it, there were a lot of messages hidden. I think Goldberg has done a perfect job 🙂
    After reading more than half of it, I must admit that as a 15 year old kid, I was terrified when I understood where the book was leading to. I agree that some parts of it might have been unrealistic, but hey, it is completely by chance that children with such characteristics were drawn together on that island. Goldberg is trying to tell us that there are people with good and descent characteristics in this world, as well as rotten apples.
    To the ones who think this book isn’t good, that is your idea but seriously guys, this is literature. Lord of the Flies is an allegorical and a representational novel (if you know what that means). It’s not a piece of cake. Therefore before complaining about it’s difficulty or saying it bores you, look over your english knowledge once again. Either that, or you didn’t pay enough attention to the book.

  13. I think this book was done to let us know that even though we think that we are the perfect of the perfects(which is not true) then finds out that iinside of them, deep inside, they have an evil within. And well, I noticed that too because I know i blow out sometimes with somebody and that person is like ‘What the heck is wrong with this person?’ and then we say that we are not acting like an animal, when we are actually. This book gives a lot of lessons when we a stranded some place lost and we get desperate for or from something. This book actually helped me out on life. I learned that even though there is somebody with a higher position than me, I know for a reason that person was chose for it, and I got to deal with it like it or not. I feel happy that way. Thanks William Golding:)

  14. this book is awesome. i learned how important it is to be organize, and also- to alway find a wiser way to problems then acting like animals. i think this is a great book because the auther uses dialogs that brings the reader’s mind closer to whats happening in the story.

  15. As a concern student of Gambia high school i am happy to read this book is well interested form me to jack,piggy,Ralph,Simon and the others i am thanking all my teachers who taught me this book

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