Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Lord of the Flies

At 41 years old, I have finally read The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It is a requirement in some 8th through 12th grade classes, and I wondered about the allure... After reading it, I had to see how it was portrayed on film. There will be no spoilers in this post, so read on if you plan on reading this literary classic.

There are three different videos sharing The Lord of the Flies. The most recent, I've read, is a low-budget film that did not get much recognition in 2013. There is another, from 1990, that received poor ratings. Therefore, I decided to watch the 1963 black and white version. (After watching this one, I was not tempted in the least to watch the other two!)

The first change I noticed right off was the background information given in the movie. Where the book begins with two boys in a forest or jungle-type setting, the movie begins with still photos of what's going on at that time in our history. The book explains that there is a war going on, but the movie shows the typical dress of the day in England, and then flashes quick photos of bombs, rockets, and jets, with menacing music accompanying them. From the photos, viewers can grasp that this takes place in the 1950s. The beginning of the movie ends with a photo of a plane stranded in the ocean, near an island. In the book, Golding explains over and over the "scar" that the plane left on the island itself.

The contrast of watching the movie in black and white vs. reading the vivid descriptions of the foliage and contours of the land in the book is stark. The black and white doesn't show the "pink" of the rocks that Golding writes of a lot, and, to me, doesn't show the enormity of the island and all that it could hold. The film, lacking in its exploration of the island itself that I was expecting, makes up for it in the paint and masks the savages wear. The book described how it was difficult to recognize who was under the paint, but the movie scenes with the boys lined up in full paint, armed with spears, really displayed their savagery. What I noticed in the movie that did I did not notice in the book is that they had paint on their chests and backs, as well. This added to the serious tone of the way the boys were getting out of hand / morphing.

While the movie was almost word for word the dialogue in the book, there was an extra scene that I found amusing. Piggy is left to take care of the "littleuns," and in the film, he is sitting on a log explaining the origin of his hometown's name. I can see that they film maker could have added this scene to show that Piggy is trying to do the right thing by entertaining the littleuns while others go searching for the beast, but also to show how boring (annoying?) he could be. I, however, was chuckling, because it was the first thing I noticed that was different from the text, and I wondered, "Of all the things to add to this movie, they added THIS?"

I was astounded at how close the movie was to the book. I can't help but think that anyone who did not read the book, however, would have no clue what the movie was really about. Many parts were unclear or hard to understand. I am wondering about the 2013 adaptation, but not so much that I'll use (waste?) another 90 minutes of my life watching it...