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 Replies

  • 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

  • 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”.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:)

  • 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.

  • 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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