The film version of ‘Lord of the Flies’ begins with a collage at the start of the film. It takes the main issues of the book such as the chaos on the island and turns in into visual images with added sound effects to create the atmosphere.
To start with, there is a photograph of an old 19th century school building with the bells chiming in the background. It then leads to a school photograph with the headmaster present and the matron. To add to the sense of order, there is a teacher in the background delivering a Maths lesson and then a Latin lesson. Certain words are constantly repeated such as ‘order’ and then you can hear the mutterings of an assembly being led by the headmaster. When he speaks, everyone is quiet to show respect. This gives a representation of power and order, which in the novel is shown through Ralph mainly, but is only, maintained when the boys get onto the island.
In the novel, the boys use the conch to firstly create unity and then after that, to maintain it. This is a portrayal of the school assemblies. The Headmaster’s role is the same as Ralph’s on the island. The respect that he is given is one that is similar to when somebody stands on the platform; you give that person the respect and listen to what they are saying. This is a symbol of what society was like and how on the island, it was totally the opposite because you have a certain way in which you behave and this is shown through the behaviour in the school.
Pictures follow after that of a typical playground scene and the children’s chanting and chatter accompany it. There is noise but still an element of order but suggests the possibility of ‘pack potential’. This means that you can see how the children could bond closely together and become a powerful group if they unify. It also suggests that playgrounds demand this sort of behaviour where if you want to be noticed, then you must be a member of a gang or in this case a pack. But is this to show that the order that they have is only when someone of higher authority is present and so maybe the controlled order of the boys is only skin deep? This is obviously apparent in the novel: as soon as the boys realise they can get a way with murder, they do. For example Roger at the start of the film throws rocks at people in order to miss, but as soon as he realised how free he was, he no longer threw them to miss. This was because he had no pressure from an authoritarian figure to say what was wrong or right and as a result of this his tribe killed Piggy at the end with the huge boulder as they were no longer aiming to miss. The boulders and the stones co – incidentally, represent the loss of control that took place on the island.
During the collage, the choir music comes into the scene, which is heavenly, religious, spiritual music, and slowly the tempo gets faster and turns into insidious chanting. This ‘hymn to God’, is followed by chanting and then the main title appears on the screen, ‘Lord of the Flies’. It then returns to a peaceful order of a typical English tradition of a cricket match with spectators clapping and being supportive of their friend and family. This co-incides with the character of Simon who is very hopeful and gives the impression that he maybe the sort of person who would believe in Jesus and of salvation and although life may be a nightmare at the time it will get better. This section of the collage demonstrates Simons’ character very well as the music builds up all the mayhem and shows how things can get into a state of anarchy, but it will return to sanity like the cricket match shows. I think that the title appearing at that point is an excellent place for it to emerge because ‘Lord of the Flies’ actually is Arabic for ‘devil’. This is when the collage is at the most powerful of severe images and is the ideal place for it to go. The word ‘devil’ in itself means a person of evil spirit and is considered as the Christianity chief spirit of evil and enemy of God. The collage shows here what one of the main themes of the novel is on – the power of good against evil and right against wrong.
This collage is a combination of the main issues, which are brought in the novel but all put into a series of images and sounds. The main themes are brought by the images: order and the power of community represented in the book by Ralph and the conch. The loss of control on the island which is suggested by the increased tempo in the choir music and the way the title ‘Lord of the Flies’ is shown and in the middle of all the chaos which depicts the evil that is symbolised by Roger. These images tell the whole story and illustrate all the main themes which make Lord of the Flies so important and raises the question, is the order of our society only skin deep? As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words.