Lord of the Flies (1963)

Lord of the Flies is a film adaptation of the book by the same name by William Golding.

I saw the version filmed in 1963,  directed by Peter Brook. There is a remake: Lord of the Flies (1990), directed by Harry Hook – but I cannot comment on it because I just haven’t seen it.


The movie tells the story of a plane crash on a deserted island. It is the beginning of a war (not specified) and we see schoolboys put on airplanes to take them to a safe haven. When the plane crashes, the boys are the only survivals.

At first, we only see Ralph and “Piggy”, who go out searching for other survivals. Soon all the boys are gathered and a vote is held to decide who is  in charge to make decisions. Ralph and Jack, a dominant boy and leader of the boys choir, put themselves up for the part, and eventually Ralph is chosen, to Jack’s dismay.

Ralph pitches the idea to set up a signaling fire, to attract attention from passing ships or planes, and Jack suggests that he and his choir should guard the fire (to keep it lit). Jack and his boys will be the hunters for food and offer protection. For a while rules are abided by, and food is found and daily hunted.

But things turn, when the fire seems to be out when a plane flies over the island. Ralph and the others are upset that the choir preferred hunting than keeping the fire lit. This creates tension between Ralph and Jack. Jack defies Ralph as chief more and more as the days go by.

Little by little, the boys report that they have sensed or seen a monster on the island; at night in the trees, coming out of the sea, in the bushes… Again, this is cause for friction between Ralph and Jack, one wanting to take action, and the other contesting the monster’s existence. So they set out in search of this monster to proof it’s there and kill it…


The movie is shot in black and white, which I like. I don’t think it’s a  bad movie, but I wouldn’t claim it to be a fantastic one either. I haven’t read the book, so on the accuracy of the story I cannot comment – but the story was exiting enough to keep me interested.

As for the topics dealt with in the film, they are very mature (for kids I mean): defects of human nature (abandonment, betrayal, usurption, death, survival…)…

The children in the movie are good, like James Aubrey as Ralph. What bothered me was the fact that all the lines were so obviously dubbed. I can imagine that filming outdoors, on an island off Puerto Rico, must not have been in the best conditions. Maybe the choice for dubbing was a very valid one. But at times, it was a bit off and really annoying.

I didn’t get the title of the movie (again, sorry, I did not read the novel). I did see the scene with the pig’s head that has been cut off by Jack, put on a stick sharpened at both ends, stuck in the ground, and offered to the “beast.” Simon, one of the boys, is filmed watching the severed head on the stick intently. The shot shows a close up of the pig’s head, filled with flies. I only read on Wikipedia afterwards that the pig’s head on the stick was the representation of the Lord of the Flies, representing the evil that lurks in each of us.

I also found that the name “Lord of the Flies” is the literal English translation of Beelzebub, and that according to the writer of the novel, Golding, the Lord of the Flies seems to be the manifestation of the evil that has crept into the boys on the island.

Categories classics of cinema, movies

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