A media study comparing two cinematic interpretations of Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” the Peter Brooke version (1960) and the Harry Hook version (1990).
These two interpretations of William Golding’s “The Lord of the Flies” have been directed by Peter Brooke in 1960’s and then Harry Hook’s version in the 1990’s.
The original, black and white, version stays far closer to the book storyline altering only the slightest things. Peter Brooke keeps the boys from a public English school with strict rules about behaviour and uniform. The main idea behind the story is to see, just how long these boys will keep rules and order now that they have no one to enforce them upon them. It’s to see, just how long they will live with this civilised and orderly world, before they turn to the savage and more primitive world. In Harry Hook’s version, the story has been changed a great deal. The main difference is the boys themselves are now Americans from an American military school.
Harry Hook has brought the film right up to date and more modern. The main reason for changing the boys to American, I believe, is because of tickets sales. Far more people would want to see these boys than English boys, partly because many people wouldn’t understand the English boys’ accent. Another major change Harry Hook has added is the role of the pilot. In the book and Peter Brooke’s version, the pilot is dead upon encountering the island on top of the mountain in the middle of the island with the tangled parachute, rapped around him, to make him look more like a beast.
However, in Harry Hook’s Colour version, he has kept the pilot alive, with Ralph, one of the main boys, saving him from drowning at the start. Later on, he then dies up in a cave on the mountain, making him appear to be a beast. I think that Harry Hook’s version is more effective and believable to a modern viewer like me because if we look at a person wrapped in a parachute it wouldn’t appear to be a beast or anything like that. I believe in the 60’s people were far easier scared than what we are today. Also Harry Hook has touched up the film a bit by adding more technology into it, like the glow sticks or the pyrotechnics of the burning island. These changes he’s added make it easier for modern viewers to understand. I belief Harry Hook has been successful in creating a more updated and modern film.
The opening scenes and sequences to both these films are very effective in their own ways. They both use different techniques of camera shots and angles and different audio and soundtracks and different way of putting across the message of what has just happen to this group of boys. In Peter Brooke’s version he runs through a series of images resembling certain things about the civilised world and what they are about to al leave behind. First of all he show images of some class rooms with lecturers at the front, dictating what appears to be maths and Latin. These symbolise rules and order, maths with all the rules and Latin with a very orderly structure to the language.
He is trying to put across how the boys used to live before the plane crash. He also shows images of a cricket match showing more rules and the idea of fair play and all working together as a team. The quire is also introduced into these images representing harmony and peace. Peter Brooke then starts flicking in images of war, like the planes, tanks, bombs and troops. He is trying to show just how bad things are about to get. Peter Brooke has all the boys in these images dressed up smartly in there uniform. This again represents order.
He is putting across to the viewers just how much the boys are going to loose and how far the boys are willing to stray from civilisation. The quire, which he also introduces, is also dressed up in these very smart and fine black robes. Peter Brooke has got them all dressed this way to show they are all together as a team and are all united in peace. When Peter Brooke has these war images introduced to the credits the intensity of the soundtrack is increases, adding this drum beat in the background. The very same drum beat is reintroduced later on in the film to show that civilisation has finally fallen apart completely. I this worked very well, reintroducing this intense drum beat because you then are able to relate the drums to war and uncivilised behaviour which is a very important theme to the whole film.
In Harry Hook’s version, he has decided to put these images across in a very different way, but still, he’s very effective in doing so. His first shot is of the pilot sinking down the screen under water, until Ralph dives down and rescues him. Everything is silent underwater, until they hit the surface then is a burst of screams and shouts from the other boys. He’s trying to make it look and feel like the boys are being reborn. The sea is representing the old world and blue representing an empty or neutral colour and everything has been wiped clean suggesting everything has been wiped clean and they are starting life over, rebirth. Ralph is the first to be briefly introduced, which is also before the title credits. He dives down into the sea, rescuing the pilot, and then again, diving down rescuing the life boat which saves all the boys.
The pilot is a good symbol of the old world and how it’s slowly disappearing and slipping out of their grips. Harry Hook is immediately trying to show, Ralph as the one who wants the old world to come back, her wants to hold on to the old world and save it. Underwater, it has been deliberately made silent to try and contrast the two worlds and show how completely different they are. This worked very well for the film. The title is then brought up onto the screen against a black background with the films theme tune. In my opinion, I feel this has worked better than Peter Brooke’s opening credits because there’s more drama and suspense about, whether these boys are actually going to survive in the water and what they will do. Also it is easier to read the opening credits against a black background, rather than have to focus on what’s going on in the background as well as read the credits.
In both of the films they then start to introduce the main characters, starting mainly with Ralph, closely followed by Ralph and Piggy two. Both directors have decided to focus mainly on these three characters at the beginnings. Each one of these has also been singled out and is noticed by a very distinguishing feature. In Peter Brooke’s film, Ralph is noticeable because he has kept all his uniform on, whereas most the others have started to take items off, whereas, in Harry Hook’s film Ralph is given a sling. Giving Ralph this sling makes him stand out a great deal from all the other boys. In both the films, Piggy just looks completely different from all the other boys. He’s short, fat and has glasses. Piggy is also the most mature out of the group and can see a lot more clearly about what’s going to happen to them.
His glasses are a symbol of the old world; they enable him to see things clearer than what the other boys can. He is also able to blind him self from the truth if he doesn’t like it or danger by taking them off. If he knows trouble is going to happen, he generally takes them off to clean or something. Finally there’s Jack. In Peter Brooke’s version he is the head chorister of the quire and then in the Harry Hook version he is first seen with no jacket on. Jack is the first boy in both films to remove all his clothes and becomes the chief of the tribe, which is created later on in the film. I think again Harry Hook has been more successful in singling out the main characters of the film. When first viewing the island, both directors have kept it in black or a silhouette against the sky.
They keep it in this format to symbolise mystery and uncertainty about things to come. When all the boys are sailing into the island, in Harry Hook’s version, the main point he is trying to portray is all the boys are altogether as one group. No individuals and no one have any identity yet. They’re all in black against the blue sea representing the old world, with no characteristics trying to show they are still together and united as one group, coming from the old world of civilisation. This is done differently in Peter Brooke’s version because they are all assembled together on the beach but the same points are still made. I feel Harry Hook made this scene better too because all the characters no each other and can be classed as a group, whereas Peter Brooke’s boys didn’t no each other and have to find out who each boy is at the beginning.
When Ralph saves the pilot in the colour film, it shows that he still clutches to this old world and wants it back. The boys wrap the pilot in a mosquito net and treat him like a child, I feel Harry Hook is trying to show the roles have now been reverse and the adult is now this child or baby and the boys are the adults. When the boys are in the big group on the beach, Ralph starts with a green glow stick, the green symbolising fear and loneliness. The camera angles in both films are mainly all in medium shot while introducing the boys, so you can get a good look at all the boys and work out first impressions for yourself. It also has a few close-ups on the main characters to show these are the one’s that’ll make a difference.
The boys soon discover that the island isn’t that bad, by finding water and wild pig’s for food. In both films, all the boys are working together to show they are still this team but some of the boys have already started to get annoyed by piggy and mock his name. Both directors establish the island in more detail and show it’s a small island. For Ralph, this island is a dream come true or a paradise for him. Yet again, I feel Harry Hook has captured this better by introducing this gigantic water pool they find in the middle of the forest, where all the boys drink from and play in. Ralph can’t get enough of this paradise, golden sun, sandy beaches, warm and clear water, but best of all, there is no adults to enforce any rules upon them but he soon starts to wish there were adults. This soon becomes a nightmare and a burning hell.
Piggy is the first boy to realise this and what will happen, so he goes back to the water, in hope to find someway of brings back the old world and what he finds is the conch. This allows them to keep some rules and order with the other boys but this doesn’t last very long and it not long, before a lot of the boys start to rebel against all these rules and start to realise they aren’t going to be rescued so make the most of it. When Ralph and Piggy are first introduced in to Peter Brooke’s version, they are frantically struggling through the undergrowth of the forest floor, in an attempt to gain access to the sea once again and the old world. I don’t think this scene is capture very well, not because of camera angles or soundtrack because I feel they worked very well, having all the bugs and animal noises in the background, but because of Hugh Edwards, the boy who played Piggy. I feel he didn’t relate into the character as well as the new Piggy, Daniel Pipoly. This has let the film down but it was still a very good film, putting across all the main points.
Soon the fire is introduced which is a huge symbol of power and nature. As the film progresses the fire’s symbol changes. First off it starts off as power of nature and stands for rescue but later on it is used for cooking and hunting. The first fire the boys set goes horrible wrong and out of control very rapidly. The directors here are trying to give us a glimpse of things to come like disaster. All the boys are still together at this pint and work together to put the fire out, except Piggy who is isolated and alone. Piggy is shot through the fire showing he hasn’t got long left and he knows it. Piggy’s specs are also a great aspect and an important feature of the film because these start the fire.
Piggy can’t see without them so when there is danger, he uses this to his advantage and takes them off, blinding him from the truth. With the fire lit the boys now start to get out of control and start almost a tribal dance, Piggy is again deliberately shot outside the group, showing he is already being left out. Piggy knows this and he knows what is going to happen. In the colour version, Harry Hook, has added a single tree standing alone, next to the fire. This is completely burnt down and incinerated. This tree symbolised innocence which has now gone, destroyed and crashed down. This again shows the power of nature and things to come.
Probably the main or key scene, of the film is when Simon, the first to be killed and realise the truth about the beast, is killed. This is the key point where finally the boys are divided and both groups head off in completely different directions. Once Simon has been killed, nothing could ever be the same. Once Jack, has finally become more like a native and so primitive, he’s killed once and is willing to kill again. Ralph and Piggy now realise they are the only ones with any sense left and know if they aren’t rescued soon, they too will be killed. The sequences leading up to Simon’s death introduce the face paints and body paints, acting like masks, where the boys can hide behind. Once the boys have these paints they are hidden from everything and are able to commit far more serious crimes, like murder.
On both films, Simon sits in front of the sacrifice, or the pig’s head, which Jack has placed for the beast, just staring with no expression or emotion, just trying to work out what actually is going on. In Peter Brooke’s version he has nothing but the buzzing of flies in the background to show it’s the flies eating away the flesh and meat of the head, not a beast. Simon figures it out and goes up to the mo9untain to check what he believes and finds the dead pilot in both versions. Simon has a lot more sense than the other boys and can see that there isn’t a beast, but the beast that they fear is inside of them all. The camera’s keep switching between the beach, where Jack and his tribe are dancing around a fire, in a very primitive and savage way, pretending to do rituals where they chase a boy round the fire who is pretending to be the pig, or the beast which builds up tension for when Simon is actually killed, it also gives the film a lot more confusion to show the boys aren’t to sure what is going on.
Each time the screen is switched from Simon to Jack and his tribe, it’s getting darker and every time it gets darker the tribe are getting far more wild and aggressive. The sound of crashing waves against rocks is introduced to the backing music to show there is a war going on between these two worlds. A few boys start throwing the fire into the water, rejecting the old world. Both films captured these sequences very well and all this helps built up tension, suspense and fear before Simon’s death. Simon races down to the beach to tell the other boys his discovery. By now it’s really dark, the night has drawn in and the only light is the central fire where all the boys are dancing round and racing round after a pretend pig. Ralph and Piggy are still shot out of the group though because they can sense something bad is going to happen before the night is over.
When Simon is spotted, there is a big question mark on whether Jack actually knew it was Simon and had him deliberately killed or he genuinely thought it was the beast. This question arises because Simon keeps the boys in his tribe by fear of the beast and by threatening them. He goes on about how his hunter will protect him from the beast, but if the truth is revealed, that there is no beast, not many of the boys would actually follow Jack. Harry Hook, in my opinion again, has captured this scene very well. It was a good effect, having a camera track Simon down the beach and have him running, with this green glow stick. The glow stick gives him a more monstrous appearance and makes the accidental killing storyline more believable to viewers. After the boys back away and realise what they’ve done, the sea comes rolling up the beach once more.
The sea representing the old world comes crawling up the beach and wraps around Simon, now taking him back to this old world. Peter Brooke captures this very well, giving it a religious appearance by having the stars sparkling reflection upon the water shore and the quire in the backing music. This makes it feel like a religious ceremony. I think the point Peter Brooke was trying to put across was Simon was a martyr, dying trying to reveal the truth about the beast. Once the boys have committed this, there is no going back. This scene is the very turning point of the play, where Jack, finally, has total power and all the boys except Piggy and Ralph have turned so primitive. Jack has now painted his whole body with these paints in tribal markings which singles him out as the leader of the tribe. Also the original uniforms, which were a symbol of the old world, have now been taken over by these markings, and the new world. Ralph and Piggy have both lost all hope in rescue and know if they stay here it’ll be there turn soon enough.
An additional scene Harry Hook has added into his version is the dream sequence where Ralph is dreaming about them all being rescued and saved when, suddenly, the helicopter just bursts into flames and explodes in Ralph’s face. Here Harry Hook is trying to emphasize the point that Ralph and Piggy are giving up hope on getting rescued and it is getting more and more less likely for them to get rescued. However I don’t think this was a very good idea because all it does is confuse the viewer.
In the last scene, where Ralph is being hunted down in the forest by the hunters in there new natural habitat, the directors for both films have concentrated greatly upon creating the ending with so much suspense and tension and excitement as they could possibly get. Harry Hook has Ralph go speak to Sam and Eric the night before the hunters attack on Ralph to confirm what Ralph thinks will happen. He calls them Jack’s slaves. The whole area surrounding them is in this dark blue showing Ralph is lost within the darkness and can’t find away out, but needs to soon. By going up to Sam and Eric, Ralph is testing their loyalty to him and to see just how primitive they have got, to see if they have any civil behaviour at all left in them. He wants to see if they are just another tribal unit. Peter Brooke didn’t add this scene in which again, I feel, lets the film down slightly. This part explains the film more clearly to viewers.
Both Harry Hook and Peter Brooke, have Ralph awaken in the forest, lost and alone, only to hear the sounds of birds, insects and small creatures. He then starts to hear the quiet cries of the hunters calling to each other, like a pack of animals; this again shows just how primitive the other boys have become. Suddenly the sound of burning is brought into the background. The camera shows close ups on Ralph’s face, trying to capture his fear. When Ralph realises the hunters are coming after him, he jumps up and runs as fast and as far as he can. He doesn’t know where he is going though, he’s trapped on the island, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. The camera tracks Ralph through the forest and every where he runs. Peter Brooke has Ralph literally crawling on his hands and knees through the forest, sprawling through the undergrowth of the forest floor. He is trying to suggest the Ralph has now become this Pig and is being hunted.
This works very well and gives another glimpse to just how far the boys have gone. When Ralph is running through the forest, the directors have both chosen to shoot a reverse shot on Ralph. This is when in the one minute he’s running to the right, then the next he’s going to the left. They have done this to show just how lost and confused Ralph is, showing he has nowhere to run. Usually this is seen as a weakness in films, but I feel it worked well for this film and gave it more suspense. It also enables the directors to show more fear within Ralph, having him know he doesn’t know where the hunters are, but they are on the island somewhere.
They also both do panning shots of Ralph, running past the camera. In Harry Hook’s version, because of the 30years of advances in technology, he is able to use pyrotechnics at the end on the burning island, which I believe, gives the film more suspense, it shows the island burning, resembling the island has now become this hell. Peter Brooke wasn’t able to do this in his interpretation of the lord of the flies because they didn’t have the technology so they just used smoke which didn’t work as well for me. After scrambling through the forest, Ralph eventually stumbles upon the beach and in front of a navel officer. Both films jump from images of the hunters, all in these rags and paints, then to the naval officer, all in uniform, all perfect and orderly.
Both directors are trying to sum up, just how far the boys had finally gone and strayed away from civilisation. Peter Brooke has done this exceptionally well. He picks out one boy who, at the beginning of the film could remember his name, address and telephone number but now can’t even speak. He just walks up to the officer and is speechless; he opens his mouth to talk but can’t remember anything. This again underlines have far the boys have gone. The final images you get in Peter Brookes version is the burning island, which has now become this burning hellish nightmare. He also gives you images of Ralph’s face. The camera shot is a close up to see the emotion this ordeal has put him through.
Overall, I feel Harry Hook’s version was better, purely because of the advances in technology like colour. Also the use of language and swearing makes it easier for a modern viewer to interpret it. I believe the script editor has done a great job and fits the story in well and keeps it up to date with technology, which in turn make the whole film more believable and interesting.