johnlink ranks LORD OF THE FLIES (1963)

This is one I might not have watched if it wasn’t directed by Peter Brook who wrote a book about acting and directing called The Open Door which I am very much a fan of. When you go to the IMDB page for LORD OF THE FLIES, one of the lead photos declares it an ‘Essential Art House Film’. So is it?

I watched LORD OF THE FLIES (1963) on 3.11.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE.

This is not the version of the film I watched in tenth grade. That would be the 1990 Harry Hook film. While I don’t remember much at all about that version, this version, the Brook version, is a relatively slow and quiet film. The things I remember about the book are the importance of Piggy’s glasses, the Conch, and the rock at the end. Watching this film for me, was interesting in that I recalled much more of the book (which I haven’t read now in a dozen years) than I thought I would.

This is a European film of the 60s, of that there is no doubt. This was a time in film when directors paid particular attention to mise-en-scen, which is a fancy film phrase to describe, literally, everything in the shot. Pictures meant as much as words at this time. When a little boy discovers the truth about what the ‘beasty’ on the island really is, we don’t need a spoken explanation. It is all in his face. The end, when the last moment happens, nothing is said. Modern Hollywood film would need an explanation, would need to tell you what happened to the boys. In the 60s, for many directors, the idea was to leave the audience with lingering questions (this was probably most famously done in THE 400 BLOWS).

The one major problem with this film, ironically, is its acting. Many of the boys, especially Piggy, feel wooden. There are several lines which lack any real emotional development. I’m sure Brook went for a ‘natural’ reading, something which would probably resonate better with adults then with children. There were times I just did not feel like these kids ever felt like they were on an island, alone. In the beginning this isn’t so bad. I imagine it would be a nice fantasy for a group of boys to be alone to fend for themselves. But all the realities which set in are of their own making. While disease might not be in the source material, there are things the island can do (again with pictures, not necessarily words) which can create discomfort. But maybe I’ve been watching too much LOST.

The script is pretty tight, though it sometimes reads like a greatest hits from Golding’s novel. Some scenes get the too-short treatment, when I’d like to see them play out. And because there is so much rich symbolism in this story, much of the foreshadowing feels more like fore-neon-signing.

So is this an Essential Art House film? I would say it is worth a watch for sure. I think it serves as a decent little bridge from mainstream to art house. It certainly isn’t something made to be inaccessible or made to frustrate. The opening sequence uses still photos to tell the journey to the island. Probably the most ‘artsy’ section of the film, though nothing of the sort of imagery we usually associate with ‘Art House’. While I might not call it essential, I’d certainly call it worthwhile.

SCORES

FILM: 8; MOVIE: 4; ACTING: 4; WRITING: 6 (What is this?)

8+4+4+6+0=22

FINAL SCORE: 5.5

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~ by johnlink00 on March 12, 2010.

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