Harry Hook’s Lord of The Flies is a outstanding achievement; he brings the novel by Sir William Golding to the screen with the touch of a master. This success is impressive because he has brought the story forward to modern times and has made the characters American rather than British, while still keeping the heart of the novel. If you have read the book, you will see that Hook does not play down some of the more disturbing scenes.
The film is based on a simple story. A group of boys, in this case, cadets of a military school, end up on a deserted island after their plane crashes. They must survive on their own, without any adults being there. This is, depending where you are in kid’s pecking order, either a dream come true or your worst nightmare. At first, things go well, as Ralph in particular is determined to organize the boys, get things done, and get them rescued. However, divisions soon appear as the hunters under the leadership of Jack begin to assert themselves, become annoyed under the control of Ralph’s rule. Soon, the boys are split into two camps. It isn’t long before an adolescent civil war is declared.
For viewers who have read the book before watching the film, there is more to be desired and some of the main things in the book are changed throughout the film. The director, Harry Hook, had a great vision of choosing actors to fit the characters. For example Piggy looks exactly like you would expect. The basic ideas of the book were portrayed in the movie. Using a completely different idea for the beast was slightly disappointing. But a strong point was a very memorable scene. When, Simon was murdered, there was a dialogue between Ralph, Piggy, and the twins that almost made me cry.
Another downside for me was that the boys in the movie were American but in the book the boys were British. I anticipated British swear words, school cloaks, accents, and hats for the choirboys. But however what I got was no British swearing, American accents, military uniforms, and no mention of the choir, which was in the book.
As the film progresses, you watch with anxiety, as the outcome of the novel unfolds. He makes use of wounds and death to emphasize human cruelty and lack of concern to the world around us. This film could be a little harsh on a weak stomach, but it is not too gory, it is symbolic but not as symbolic as the book.
In Golding’s novel, we all hope that the heroes Ralph will be able to survive and take the other “good guys” like the rational Piggy, the soulful Simon and the eager-to-please twins, Sam’n’Eric with him. We also hope that, mean Jack and his partner in crime Roger will get what’s coming to them. The film seems to be on the same side with the evil Jack and Roger, and cheer each time one of the “goodies” is killed. This version is far darker and more distrustful than even Golding might have imagined possible as his novel was full of death but this is amplified throughout the film.
Hook, who also edited the film, has no sense of turning the film into sections, so the film has no real build up it seems to be all on screen. We just stumble from one minor explosion to the next, inevitably finding ourselves at the bloody climax. There is an awful lot of “talk, talk, talk” which can work well on paper, but unless you have skilled actors, doesn’t work so well onscreen. Great talent does not surround Hook in this film. Balthazar Getty as Ralph is vital to giving us something to pull for in this nasty business, but the lad, who has limited screen appearances, is not up to the challenge of this great novel turned film.
The cinematographer Martin Fuhrer deserves credit for capturing the island’s most interesting features. So one of the best things you can say about this version of Lord of the Flies is that the island looks pretty.
To conclude I believe the film was entertaining in parts but I wouldn’t go out on a limb to see it and if you don’t have the option of the film the book for me is a better choice anyway.