Lord of the Flies

Director: Peter Brook
Year Released: 1963
Rating: 2.5

Peter Brook's adaptation of the famous novel by William Golding is aesthetically fascinating (the black and white cinematography is breathtaking, accurately capturing the sterility and romanticism of the 'island') but dramatically flawed. The novel was a captivating look at what was symbolically a new civilization created solely of children, who, without parental supervision and clearly defined rules and boundaries, go 'mad,' create social hierarchies, develop myths (about the supposed monster that can be found in one of the caves - it's not a monster, but a downed pilot) and eventually self-destruct. The book is told from the perspective of Ralph, the main character, and we quickly identify with him as the hero who is usurped by the unscrupulous Jack and his fascist group of cloak-wearing cronies. But in the film, proper identification is never built up around Ralph, or his portly friend Piggy, or the blond martyr Simon who sees the heart of darkness and becomes its victim. All of the events of the film are rushed through (the film is only 90 minutes) and Brook emotionally distances the viewer from the action - we never 'become' the savages ourselves (as the audience), we can only watch from afar. His one attempt at 'placing the viewer in the middle of the chaos' occurs towards the end of the film during a feast that turns primal ... but even this fails to work, as the events play out like a silly orgy of screaming children.