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Lord of the Flies (1963)
A group of boys are marooned on an island after their plane crashes. With no adult survivors, they create their own "micro-society". Ralph is elected "chief", and he organises shelter and fire. Jack, the head of the choir takes his boys hunting for food (wild pigs). A bitter rivalry develops between Jack and Ralph as both want to be in charge. The "hunters" become savage and primal, under Jack's rule, while Ralph tries to keep his group civilised. The growing hostility between them leads to a bloody and frighting climax.
James Aubrey ... Ralph
Tom Chapin ... Jack
Hugh Edwards ... Piggy
Roger Elwin ... Roger
Tom Gaman ... Simon
Roger Allan ... Piers
David Brunjes ... Donald
Peter Davy ... Peter
Kent Fletcher ... Percival Wemys Madison
Nicholas Hammond ... Robert
Christopher Harris ... Bill
Alan Heaps ... Neville
Jonathan Heaps ... Howard
Burnes Hollyman ... Douglas
Andrew Horne ... Matthew
Director: Peter Brook
Codecs: XVid / MP3
What kid did not fantasize, at one time or another, being left alone, completely unsupervised, for a long, long, LONG period of time? To be allowed to say or do whatever he pleased, whenever he pleased. To eat anything he wanted, to go to bed late, to not go to school, to act or behave as he pleased without reproach. To be his own adult. Usually those kind of thoughts permeated our little minds right after a heavy-duty punishment. In 1990's "Home Alone," we saw a broad, comical take on this fantasy. With 1963's "Lord of the Flies," we get to experience the flip side.
"Lord of the Flies" was required reading in junior high school. William Golding's dark, sobering allegory, set during wartime London, tells the story of a large group of young schoolboys airlifted out of England who are left to their own devices after a plane crash leaves them marooned on an uninhabited isle with no surviving adults. As the boys struggle to adapt to their crude but strangely exotic "Robinson Crusoe" existence, the troop begins to splinter into two opposing sects after failing to come to terms on an autonomous code of ethics. Most of the boys decide to revel in their unsupervised freedom, reverting to primitive, animal-like behavior while resorting to barbaric acts and ritualistic practices. A conch shell becomes the embodiment of power; a boar's head a symbol of lordly conquest. On the other side, a minority group try to repel the tempting force of evil by forming a more civilized commune. Eventually the "survival of the fittest" factor sets in as the anointed leader of the hostile group incites violence to force an autocracy.
Golding's fascinating premise certainly does not hold much hope for the future of mankind. We are conditioned as a people to be civilized; it is an acquired trait, NOT an inherent trait – according to the author. And if and when the shackles of goodness and purity are at any time removed to the extent that we are allowed to become our own social and moral dictator, we will invariably revert back to what comes naturally. And with a child, who has been less-conditioned, it will take little time at all. Evil is stronger, easier, and much more seductive. When playing "good guys and bad guys" as a kid, which did YOU prefer to be?
Boasting a surprisingly natural cast of amateur actors and directed by radical stage director Peter Brook ("Marat/Sade"), this lowbudget British effort impressively captures much of the novel's back-to-nature symbolism that I found so powerful and fascinating. The young masters representing good and evil, James Aubrey ("Ralph") and Tom Chapin ("Jack"), effectively portray the resolute leaders of the two disparate tribes, while butterball Hugh Edwards as the bespectacled, philosophical "Piggy" and towheaded Tom Gaman as the quietly sensitive "Simon" are touching as two of the weaker followers who become likely targets of the surrounding chaos and burgeoning brutality. What I love most about this cast is that they act like little boys, not little actors, grounding their often awkward actions and behaviors in reality. Trivia note: one of the secondary boy players is none other than Nicholas Hammond, who went on to play young Friedrich in the film classic "The Sound of Music" two years later.
Brook's use of grainy black-and-white photography, plus the lack of any comprehensive musical score (remember Tom Hanks' "Castaway"?), accentuates the bleakness of its surroundings and feelings of isolation. The movie can hardly be expected to capture fully every single intention of this highly complex novel (most don't), but it does respect Golding's words and captures the very essence of what he wanted to say. For that alone it should be applauded.
By the way, don't waste your time on the 1990 color remake featuring "professionals" like Balthazar Getty. The poetic beauty is all but dissipated in this haphazard, jarringly Americanized update. It makes me worship Peter Brook's version even more.
And what story could BE more disturbing yet topical than "The Lord of the Flies" as it applies to today's "latch-key" society?
Director Peter Brook delivered a very powerful and artfully done film based upon the classic book by William Golding. To those who have commented here about the differences between the book and this film: these are two very different mediums. Brook did not attempt a straight adaptation, he presented Golding's story through his own vision and emotional lens.
The use of non-professional children is one of the things that make this a brilliant film, and vastly superior to the obnoxious 1990's version. If you pay attention to the opening minutes of Brook's film, you will notice that the world presented is nice, normal, clean, and functional. The boys deliver their lines well and the story flows smoothly. Once the boys are on the island, the scenes aren't nearly so smooth in transition, the speech becomes very awkward and the boys interaction with each other is stilted and unnatural.
That is the point! These children know the direction they are going is wrong, to a boy they know this. Yet as individuals they are helpless to stand up to the group. Their awkwardness flows from their fear of being cast out, while yearning to be rescued and return to their homes. The nightmarish quality of the situation is well reflected in the hesitant speech and graceless movements. The uneasy stringing together of scenes makes the viewer squirm, hopefully making the connection to how ill at ease and unnatural the boys themselves must feel.
I'm sure most of you have been around boys of this age at some point in your life. They are prone to being tongue-tied, have few social graces and lack physical co-ordination. That's what makes this film so utterly believable, the boys are real boys, not pimped-out Hollywood trick ponies, delivering their lines in perfect Shakespearean English, while nimbly doing complicated dance moves and mugging their perfect little faces square at the camera.
Golding's book is a masterpiece that can be taken on several levels. Brook's film offers no fewer interpretations of the deeper meaning while presenting a realistic and horrific vision of the basic story. I know most people simply will not get this film. That's too bad because it is a classic.
Peter Brook's rich film of Golding's "Lord of the Flies" is a stunning compilation of classic film imagery. Scenes surrealistic, beautiful and disturbing create a haunting atmosphere and a world of sights, sounds and ideas unlike any other
film. The choir marching on the beach in full dress singing that catchy "Kyrie Eleison", the first sight of Jack in his almost shocking warpaint, Piggy's comic- pathetic persona, the floating body of Simon in the ocean drifting off the screen as the sun-dappled water glistens, the look on Ralph's face at the very end of the film, his countenance stamped with fear, horror, relief and profound
sadness--all combine to form a mosaic of a classic contemporary fable. As the war in Vietnam was raging in the 60s and 70s, this film provided a distinct
commentary on the times. Seeing the film recently again, with its disturbing picture of irrational fear culminating in spectacular tragedy, "Lord of the Flies" seems almost more relevant today--and almost more tragic than before.
# Once filming began, Peter Brook largely dispensed with the script and encouraged his young cast to improvise. He shot over 60 hours of footage which was then edited down into a 90-minute film.
# Director Peter Brook saw over 3000 boy actors before choosing his cast.
# Eleven-year-old Hugh Edwards, who plays Piggy in the film, landed his role by writing a letter to the director which read, "Dear Sir, I am fat and wear spectacles."