The 1963 and 1990 Film Versions of ”Lord of the Flies” Essay Sample

The 1963 and 1990 Film Versions of ”Lord of the Flies” Pages
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The coloured 1990 film is mainly aimed at an American audience. The Actors are all American meaning that the language was different to the book. It was also based in a modern period that also effects how the characters talk and act. They make it appealing to the American audience by showing the good characters as perfect American citizens, so none of the characters have a good or a bad side to them; they either have one or the other and no in-between. They also have the American Navy saving the boys at the end to make the audience feel proud of their country. Another thing that makes it appealing to the audience is that the Russians are portrayed as the enemy, like they are in real life.

The black and white 1963 film is aimed at English, upper/middle class viewers. The time period isn’t so clear in this film, and so like the book the moral applies to anytime. It would appeal to these viewers because of the upper/middle class language used, and the fact that it was the less posh working class boy, Piggy, that was the outcast. This film sticks closely to the novels story line and the characters in it.

The main characters in the book are still present in both films (Ralph, Piggy, Jack, Simon, Rodger, Sam’n’Eric). The 1963 film stayed faithful to the amount of boys in the story and their characters personality. There is no extra characters added on; but the physical appearance to some had changed. The characters are represented like they are in the book; Ralph is the leader and who brought them all together by blowing the conch. His main aim is to create a civilised society and to get rescued as quickly as possible. Jack is the leader of the choirboys, he’s bossy and is a bully and all he is interested is hunting. Piggy is an outcast who thinks the conch and what it represents is important. Simon is quite and shy. He likes nature and feels he’s at home on the island. This film would help the student because it’s practically the same as the book throughout.

In the American film San’n’Eric, and the younger children don’t play as such an important part as in the book. There are also not as many characters as in the novel. In the 1990 film Jack wasn’t shown as the bossy and nasty character he was in the book, but seemed quite friendly at the beginning. Ralph was perfect and was never even tempted to do anything wrong. Piggy was very weak and relayed a lot more on Ralph the he did in the book. The author put together these characters very carefully to represent different things and by changing this student wouldn’t get the right idea about the novel.

The 1990 film had a lot of changes. In the book the children are alone with no adults but this film shows them arriving with an injured man so they didn’t arrive totally alone. All the boys already know each other because they are all cadets. Ralph already had authority and Jack only has the fact that he’s the oldest. There is less conflict between Jack and Ralph at the beginning because Jack didn’t have any power to be taken away from him. Another change was instead of the whole forest going up when the fire goes out of control it just damages one tree and they manage to put it out, were as in the book they failed to put the fire out. The whole point of the whole forest catching fire was to show that things could easily get out of their control and how the humans have destroyed this beautiful island. This shows that the film was made for an American audience because they don’t like to see their people failing.

In the book Ralph tells everyone the nickname he was called at school. The whole point of this was to show that Piggy has always been an outcast but in the film Jack makes up the nickname Piggy because Piggy started a fight with him. In the book the beast was meant to be a made up thing but in this film the beast was an Adult who was presumed to be dead. This missed the point of that they were starting to think the island had a bad side to it. Another thing that changed in the American film was the way that Piggy died. In the book Piggy was meant to fall into the sea and disappears quickly, but in the film he just falls to the ground. The 1963 film matches the book and shows him helpless and blind on the rocks and the falling into the sea before being dragged under, and it showed the conch breaking as he died. The only differences in the story in this film was that no one died in the first fire, and the fruit they ate didn’t make them ill.

In the book the beast is an imaginary thing that symbolises evil that is on the island. The 1963 film stuck to this point, but the 1990 film had the beast as a human adult so they had a real thing to focus on. The parachutist was meant to symbolise that the outside world may be just as bad. The whole idea of the beast and the messages behind it stay the same, but the 1990 film didn’t have this and therefore missed the whole point of showing that the outside world might be just as bad as the island.

Like the book the 1963 film showed that Ralph was a natural leader, he brought them together by blowing the conch and had lots of ideas of how to organise their society, Jack is bossy and already has power over the choir, this aids the study of the novel.

The 1990 film shows authority within the group differently. Ralph is already the leader of the group and also brings them together by blowing the conch. Jack has no power over anyone other then the fact that he is the oldest. When Ralph is chosen as leader he hasn’t got a problem with it.

In the book and the 1963 film descent into savagery happens because of the difference of opinion between Jack and Ralph about what is more important out of keeping the fire alight and hunting. As they start to enjoy hunting they become more savage and start to do rituals after their hunt were the react the hunt which gets more and more violent to the point were people start getting hurt, and the way the children act gets more savage like and more disturbing.

The descent into savagery in the 1990 film happens for the same reasons but it happens much more quickly, and the way the children act is a lot less savage and disturbing, it’s more like stupid children playing games.

Like the book the 1963 film shows the conch as the centre point of Ralph’s attempts to build a civilised society and there is a lot of focus on it. In the 1990 film the conch’s important role isn’t really focused on, and were Piggy dies the importance of the conch breaking isn’t shown.

In the book and the 1963 film some of the little ones have bad dreams about beasts on the island, and think that these dreams have been real which symbolises that the island may not be as good as they thought. The 1990 film they Ralph has dreams about being rescued so the dreams have been used to show how much Ralph wants to be rescued instead of being used to show that they are frightened of the beast.

The masks are used for the savages to wear, not just for camouflage but for something they can hide behind so the don’t feel guilty about what they are doing. Instead of the mask the 1963 film has them smearing pigs blood on their faces so they miss the point that the savages want something to hide behind.

In the book and the 1963 film the island has a good and bad side to it. In the 1990 film the while of the island looks the same and there is no contrast between the habitat, colour of the sea and atmosphere between the good and bad side of the island.

In the 1963 film camera angels are used effectively to make the audience feel part of what’s going on; this creates an atmosphere of emotion, tension and excitement for the audience. In the exiting bits like when they are going to confront the beast the camera is following the boys close behind, and the movements of the camera is like someone walking up the rocky mountain; so someone watching it feels like they are with the boys, and they are also going to search for the beast, so they can relate to the boys emotions at this time. When they run back down the mountain the cameraman does the same and it has the same effect of making the audience feel part of what’s going on. Another point where the camera was used to create tension for the watcher was at a feast after the hunting.

The boys started to re-enact the hunt that had just taken place. Instead of the camera staying in one place just watching the boys, it was close up. The camera zooms in on their faces and you could see their savage expressions, so it felt like you were part of it watching what they were doing. Zooming onto Simon’s facial expressions was very effective when he was getting killed. As before the camera was part of what’s going on. All through this bit the camera was focused on Simons face so you could see his reactions as he was getting stabbed, which showed the panic and fear on his face, but it wasn’t made to gruesome because at the same time the other boys were running in front of the camera trying to get to Simon, so all you saw was his face. When Simon did die the camera watched as he floated calmly out to sea, and then focused on the gentle motion of the waves so it made Simons death peaceful. The same thing happened with Piggy’s death were the camera was focused on his face just before he got hit with the rock.

After he has fallen off the cliff the camera does a close up on how he gets sucked out by the ocean. It also shows the conch getting broken which is an important point in the story because it shows their symbol of rules and regulations breaking at the same time as the person who thought the conch as important dieing. Close ups are very effective ways to show that something is important. I t has a lot of focus on the conch when it is first found and when it is being pasted around to let people speak. Close ups are also used when the fire is going out of control. Like in the book it concentrates more on the flames rather then the boys attempts to put the fire out. At the beginning of this film still clips were shown of were they were going and why. The still pictures proved effective because they made the film easier to understand for someone who hasn’t read the book, without messing around too much with the original story. Cameras were defiantly used in an effective way, to make the watchers feel the tension and excitement, and to show the importance of certain things.

In the 1990 film the filming is normal; it just concentrates on what’s going on with the occasional close up of someone’s face when they are speaking. This doesn’t make the audience feel the excitement as tension as well as in the 1963 film because you don’t feel part of it. When looking for the beast the cameras was just positioned at the back of the cave, and there was no close up of their expressions on the boys face or on what he believed to be the beast, making it hard for the audience to feel scared or exited. On the killing of Simon, again, the camera was just watching from afar, there was no close up on the boys, or Simon so you couldn’t see clearly what was going on. When he was left for dead the waves just washed over him so he didn’t go as peacefully as was described in the book.

On Piggy’s death all the focus was put onto Ralph’s reaction as the rocks fall down, instead of Piggy’s reaction and the conch breaking, were as in the book it was describing Piggy and his reactions. When Ralph was being hunted all the camera did was flick between Ralph and the boys, who was pretty boring and not very good at making the audience, feel part of the chase. Often in the story objects are symbols that are very important. The camera didn’t really focus on the conch when it was being passed around, but instead on the boys, which missed the point of showing that, the Conch is an important object. The same happened with the fire, instead of the focus being on the flames, it was on the boys trying to put it out, which misses out the point that things are getting out of control. I don’t think the camerawork was very effective in making tension and excitement, or showing the importance of certain symbols.

In the 1990 film colour and lighting is used to show the two different sides to the island. The good side is all bright with turquoise sea, white sand and the general look of a beautiful tropical island. The bad side has deep blue sea, cliffs, and dark jungles. When scary things are happening, such as someone is telling a ghost story the lights are dimmer to create a frightening atmosphere. Sometimes there is hardly any light at all so the audience can’t really see what’s going on. The director has only used this when he wants the audience to be just as confused as the boys are, so they are experiencing the same thing as the characters. Lighting is used very effectively during Simon’s death. The light is reflected off the water to make it look peaceful ands holy. The light represents the goodness of Simon and how he is like Jesus.

In the 1990 film there wasn’t much contrast in the light, it was either the middle of the day when it was very bright, or late at night were there was hardly light at all. There was also no difference in colour with the good and bad sides of the island, it all looked the same, so it wasn’t clear to the people watching that the island had two sides to it. Sometimes because there was no light the story was hard to follow because the bits that were pitch black were not as cleverly used as in the 1963 film. The lighting was not used to make parts like Simons death seem effective so it didn’t put things across so well.

On the sound track we hear background music that helps create the mood and atmosphere needed. It can also be used to build up the tension before something unexpected happens. This effects the reaction with the audience because it makes it more exiting. The 1963 film used music very effectively, and matched it well with what was going on. When the boys first arrive on the island they are all wearing normal clothes except for the choirboys who are wearing black cloaks and hat. This shows that they are part of a group that are different from the rest of them. The choirboys, under the leadership of Jack come across as more organised and superior to the rest of them, like in the book. The mask that Jacks tribe wears cover the whole face so that all can be seen is the eye, so like in the book they are unrecognisable so they can do what they want without feeling guilt. The appearance of the boys changes as they spend more time on the island. They get dirtier, there hair grows longer and their clothes get torn and worn out.

In the 1990 film music is also used effectively through most of it other then the part when he is running so you expect to hear music that fits with this but the music doesn’t really go. When the boys first arrive on the island they are all dressed in their cadet uniforms, so none of them are different to each other, and there are no separate groups that differ from the book. The form of masks that they use are made out of pigs blood which doesn’t cover the whole of the face so it’s not like they are trying to hide behind it. The appearance of the boys doesn’t alter much. Their hair doesn’t grow and they don’t seem to be all that dirty, but their clothes do seem to get scruffier.

I think that the 1963 film is the best to use for students studying the story. The characters have the same personalities and are represented in the same way as in the book. The plot is the same, and the themes and symbols are represented in the same way as in the book. The camerawork, lighting, music and costumes prove effective in creating scenes that are similar to those described in the book. The Lord of the Flies is a difficult film to make because it’s very important to make the audience see things that are important. There are also some bits like the pigs head talking that are hard to create without it seeming fake or stupid. The island also has to match the one described in the book to create the right atmosphere, so different bits would probably have to be shot in different places because the island described has lots of different bit like jungle, a beach, and a cliff.

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