Lord of the Flies (1963)

Article 2100 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-15-2006
Posting Date: 5-13-2007
Directed by Peter Brook
Featuring James Aubrey, Tom Chapin, Hugh Edwards

A group of British boys are shipwrecked on an island. Despite the attempt to maintain civilization, they begin reverting to savagery.

The William Golding novel on which this is based is one of those works which practically every high school student has had to reckon with; I was one of those that missed this one somehow, so this is my first encounter with the work. Having not read the novel, I can’t say how close the movie hones to the story, but my gut reaction at this point is that it is quite faithful. If so, I seriously question as to whether it can really be appreciated by the average high school student; the power of this work is not in the story itself, but in its relevance to man, human nature, and his political world, and I think these things are best appreciated with the passage of time. I was in particular impressed with the concept of the Beast – that (possibly nonexistent) object of fear which can be used by the unscrupulous to manipulate those around them to do the bidding of the leaders. These concepts are most likely as old as man himself, and the movie taps into some quite profound insights into human nature. I also enjoyed watching the struggle between civilization and savagery, and knew that Piggy was doomed at the outset, because of all the characters, he was the most dependent on civilization for his survival; in a savage land there is no place for him. The movie itself is a bit uneven; some of the acting isn’t quite up to par, and the style is a bit off-putting at the beginning, but the allegorical power remains very strong, and the movie gets better as it goes along. It may have a little science fiction to it (there are hints of the next big war being about to occur, though that is far from explicit in this movie), and the Beast (whether it is real or not) does add a touch of horror to the proceedings; at any rate, the image of the pigs head crawling with flies is about as grotesque an image as you’ll see in any horror movie.


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