Lord of the Flies

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


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.


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.


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.


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 naïve. 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?


  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

Speak your piece