William Golding’s Lord of the Flies has been made into two notable film adaptations. While the 1963 black and white version directed by Peter Brook is typically viewed as the more faithful and moving of the two, Harry Hook’s 1990 film has won a cult following. Notably, neither film shows the significant scene from the book where the Lord of the Flies explains the inherent evil and barbarity of mankind to Simon. Both films opted instead for a scene that focused on the visual, unspoken communication between Simon and the mounted hog head. In 2017, Warner Bros.’ announcement of a forthcoming all-female version of Lord of the Flies was met with backlash from critics who argued that masculinity was at the core of Golding’s book.
Lord of the Flies (1963)
Director: Peter Brook
Notable cast: James Aubrey, Tom Chapin, Hugh Edwards
Written and directed by experimental theater director Peter Brook, this adaptation of Lord of the Flies was made into a motion picture in 1961 and released in 1963. It starred a cast of non-professional British child actors including James Aubrey, Tom Chapin, Hugh Edwards, Roger Elwin, and Tom Gaman. Some reviews praised the film’s use of children who were not actors, while others thought the performances were stiff and dull. Lord of the Flies was generally well-received and is still seen as faithful to the book, with much of the dialogue reproduced word-for-word. Notably, the Lord of the Flies does not actually speak to Simon in this adaptation, but rather seems to communicate with Simon nonverbally. The crew shot more than 60 hours of film on an island off the coast of Puerto Rico and spent an entire year editing it down to the final 90-minute movie. In 1996, the BBC reunited the cast 35 years after filming to make a documentary called Time Flies.
Lord of the Flies (1990)
Director: Harry Hook
Notable cast: Balthazar Getty, Chris Furrh, Danuel Pipoly
Directed by Harry Hook and starring Balthazar Getty, Chris Furrh, Danuel Pipoly and James Badge Dale, the second film adaptation of Lord of the Flies was an American film released in 1990 by Columbia Pictures. Shot in color and praised for its beautiful scenery, this adaptation of Lord of the Flies received mixed reviews. Some critics felt the film’s deviations from the original story weakened the book’s cautionary message. This adaptation strays much farther from the original text than its predecessor by setting the story in a contemporary world and including an adult presence on the island. While Hook’s adaptation garnered a cult following, it was not nearly as well regarded as Brook’s 1963 version.