Lord of the Flies (1990)

Lord of the Flies (1990)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Harry Hook
  • Cast: Balthazar Getty, Chris Furrh, Danuel Pipoly


After a plane crash in the ocean, a group of military students reach an island. Ralph organizes the boys, assigning responsibilities for each one. When the rebel Jack Merridew neglects the fire camp and they lose the chance to be seen by a helicopter, the group split under the leadership of Jack. While Ralph rationalizes the procedures, Jack returns to the primitivism, using the fear for the unknown (in a metaphor to the religion) to control the other boys, and hunting and chasing pigs, stealing the possession of Ralph’s group and even killing people.

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  • ‘Lord of The Flies’ a stablemate of educational reading since the day it was written, a book which finds fans with every passing generation of teenage boys, a book which you’ll often find topping polls asking for it to be banned in schools. Why? I hear you ask, because some people believe it showcases needless savagery, something our youth shouldn’t be exposed to so thoughtlessly. The fact that it serves as a microcosm for the very true nature of human existence on planet Earth seems to be lost. Or maybe people do not wish for our youth to be exposed so early to the fact that humans can be a savage species. Well I’m sorry to reign on your parade but all they need do is surf the web, there they will learn just how beastly us humans can be. Oh what an ugly world we live in despite its visual beauty!

    Marooned on a desert island following a plane crash, a small group of young boys must seek survival and hope for rescue. Divisions within the group become inevitable with one side showcasing compassion, order and unity while the other descends into chaos, disorder and brutality.

    The symbolism inherent within its framework is impossible to miss, in fact it’s laid on thicker than a sumo wrestler with an eating disorder and serves as the main reason why ‘Lord of the Flies’ has endured for so long and will continue to for many generations to come. Although I do feel it’s central message and inherent symbolism will not be as striking and poignant today as it was when initially written. Our three main protagonists are Frank the symbol unity, Piggy who serves as Frank’s conscience and Jack the symbol of chaos.

    Film thoughts……..

    Let’s start with the positives, the cast do a pretty solid job, especially Danuel Pipoly as Piggy. Um…..now I’m struggling. I’ve always felt that this fable will never be delivered better than by written word and having seen both movie versions now, I haven’t changed my opinion. When you have a story which so clearly delivers a deeper message you need to let the symbolism play itself out quietly in the background and keep focus on the intricacies of the story, Hook however does neither, the symbolism takes centre stage and the story elements are rather drab. It simply plays lip service to the books broader strokes rather than focussing on the human elements.

    The rotting pigs head, swarmed by flies, fails miserably as a symbol of true horror. In fact it’s appearance plays out as nothing more than a nod to the book itself rather than a believable striking image of the now descending values within the camp. The passing of time is also an issue, the speed by which these kids self destruct is alarming. If you’re a parent and you let your kids go out to play for the day then you’d better pray that they come back normal, because a few hours down the local park could be more than enough time to see them leave as Will Young only to return as Sid Vicious on crack.

    Hooks direction is rather flat and two dimensional too with no real visual flair or individual artistry, he’s too keen to tell the story rather than show it. It’s no real surprise that he now works in TV production rather than Hollywood. It’s always been the books subtlety that has pathed way to it’s haunting qualities and subtlety is something extremely lacking in this production, even the score pulverises rather than unsettling you.

    Will we ever see another telling of this story on the big screen, of course we will but I’m putting my money on the book being better each and every time.


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