In my point of view one of the best novels you can study for GCSE English is ‘Lord of The Flies’ by William Golding. But I’m not just talking about the book I’m going to talk about the films, Peter Brook’s 1963 black and white film and Harry Hook’s American style film made in 1994 and how they both differ from each other and the book.
Sir William Golding was an English grammar school boy who studied Natural Sciences for two years at Oxford University before transferring to English Literature. He enlisted in the navy to fight in World War II where he was involved in the pursuit of Germany’s mightiest battleship, the Bismarck and involved in D-Day landings. When he came back to the UK to write and to teach he had dramatically different ideas of humanity. Many of his books contained the ideas that there is no such thing as true innocence, most men are only concerned for their own well being and that all men are evil at heart under pressure.
His first novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ is very much based on these ideas. Golding wrote many other books including: The Inheritors, Darkness Visible and To the Ends of the Earth. In 1979 Golding won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, in 1980 he won the Booker Prize, in 1983 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and was knighted by the Queen in 1988. Eventually he died of heart failure on June 19, 1993. In his lifetime he saw his greatest novel, ‘Lord of The Flies’ turned in to a film in the 1960’s but died before he could see the second adaptation of the film released in 1994.
The initial images at the start of both films of ‘Lord of the flies’ are very important as they give first impressions of the film and set the scene for what is to come. Brook’s film starts with a series of photographs showing groups of English grammar school boys in every day life, then being evacuated (for a reason that you don’t know) and then the plane crash on the island. As the images are a hymn snug in latin which, when translates means god give us mercy.
In Hook’s version the opening scene starts looking up at the thrashing legs of the boys trying to swim in the ocean but in almost complete silence then the picture raises above the water to reveal the sight of all the boy panicking and the sounds of screaming, the picture then sinks to show the pilot sinking and a hand pulling him to the surface followed by the picture to show a life raft opening. The better of the two openings in my point of view is the later 1994 film because it draws you in to the film because you don’t know what is going to happen.
In both Brook’s film and in Hook’s film the boys end up on a tropical island some were in the pacific ocean as it is in the book, but the ways this is portrayed in the two films are very different giving the two openings to the films very different feelings. In Brook’s 1963 film you first see the island during the day with a wide, long curved sandy beach laid out in front if you, backed with low tropical forest stretching into the distance with very shallow light coloured sea.
This gives a very light calm atmosphere to the beginning of the film giving a sense of hopefulness. The film was filmed mainly on the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico. In contrast Hooks 1994 adaptation has island is first seen at night as the boys enter a small sheltered bay, on a life raft, and are confronted with tiny beach with the black silhouette of the huge forests and mountains looming over them shrouding every thing with shadows this give a sense of little hope, danger, panic and fear because they don’t know what’s in the shadows. In my mind this sets the mood better for the moments after a plane crash where you are completely lost, on one knows where you are, all the adults with you have died, compared with the almost happy felling given in Brook’s film.
As in the book the first two character introduced in both films are Ralf and Piggy. In Brook’s 63 films, as in the book, Ralf and Piggy have never met before and Piggy is the first person that Ralf finds after the plane crash. Piggy in first film is a rather small, fat boy with glasses, from a lower class back ground who won’t do any physical work because he is over worried about his asthma and is very cautious about everything. Ralf in this film is an average grammar school boy although older than most of the boys, with a strong sense of leadership who later becomes leader of the children on the island because of his initial popularity with the younger members of the group.
However in Hooks american 94 film all the children are all from the same military cadet school. As they are from the same school they already know each other so as Ralf was in a higher position than all the rest of the other boys in the school he was almost automatically elected the leader of the group. Piggy is a very fat child with over sized glasses and is very venerable and can be very annoying as he is in both films and the book. Also in hooks film Ralf is automatically is very protective of piggy all though in brooks film and the book Ralf makes fun of piggy before befriending him and becoming protective him from some of the other characters.
The other main character that you are introduced to in the film is Jack. Jack in brooks film is the leader of a choir who end up on the island because of the plane crash with his coir. He immediately tries to take control of the group and is very aggressive towards Piggy and bullies him. When he fails to take control of the group he immediately separates him self and the coir to become hunters for the group and become obsessive with kill wild pigs. This is very similar with hooks film when Ralf wins control of the group jack splits of and makes a group of hunters and becomes very violent and aggressive.
Symbolism in many of Goldings book plays a big part and they have a big role in films of ‘The lord of the flies’. The conch shell that Ralf and Piggy find on the beach in one of the first sense is of order and that only the person holding the shell can speak. When the conch shell is blown for the first time by Ralf al the boys respond by coming to its source like answering to a school bell. This means that the conch shell in both films is a symbol of order, respect and control. Piggy’s glasses also become a symbol of fire because the are the boys only source of fire on the island and however has the glasses is in control of fire which is vital for life on the island. The hunting knife in hooks 94 film is a large symbol as it provides a source of food by killing the pigs on the island and a way to make weapons for the hunters.
One of the main themes in the book and films is of victimisation and domination within the group. Almost as soon as the group is formed Ralf (in the book and in the 63 film) or Jack (in the 94 film) immediately torments piggy by giving him his name, and tries to put himself above everyone else and take control of the group. In hooks 94 film all the young members of the group call Jack and Ralf ‘Sir’ showing respect to the dominant people in the group.
The sound and music within the films are very important as they get the feeling of the situation. In brooks 63-film native pipe music is played as their children are moving through the forest and this give of feeling of excitement, as they are moving through the forest. In both films the ambient sounds, like birds and frogs, give sense of alertness and can add to the tension of a seen.
In both films what the characters are wearing give a felling of how long the have been there and what they have been doing. In the 63 film ate the start all the boys have full uniform on, especially the coir how have gowns and hats one, to having very little ripped torn fragments of clothes on in Hooks 94 film the boys go from having full military uniform to topless with ripped shorts on and war paint on there faces and chests. The length of boy’s hair in both films doesn’t change in either film implying that they aren’t there for a very long time. One thing that was over look in both films is that after the plane crash all the boys are perfectly clean, tidy and well dressed.
The colours in the 94 film added to the mood of the seen. When the boys are working together on the beach the colours are lighter adding to the felling of hopefulness. On the other hand the forest is almost always dark greens, browns and blacks and this helps to emphasise a negative mood. I think that Brooks 63 film is always let down by the fact it is in black and white.
I think the use of the camera is one other main thing that separates the two films. In hooks film the camera shots are used to help emphasise what’s is going on in the film, for example: shots where the camera is looking down on someone makes them seam very venerable like when the boys first land on the beach, and when the camera is pointing up at some ones face makes you feel that there very powerful or dominant. Partly because of this I feel that the 94 is better than the 64 films because it lacks the quality of camera shots.
In my mind they are both good films but the better of the two film is Harry Hook’s 1994 version because of the better quality of the film and definitely the acting which in Peter Brook’s 1964 film was very wooden but many people just thinks it was let down by the technology of the time and because it is much close to the book it is a much better film.