Lord of the Flies, which was written by William Golding in 1954, it is one of the best masterpiece of the past century. Nevertheless, there have been only two cinematic adaptations of this rather interesting novel: the first version (1963), directed by Peter Brook, was black and white; the second adaptation (1990), directed by Harry Hook, was already a colorful version.

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When comparing these two films, the very first thing, which should be obviously taken into account, is the difference in budgets. The 1963 film with a rather small budget and being mostly financed by the bankers did not have any professional actors. The 1990 film, meanwhile, had a bigger budget and more professional actors and as a result, it got positive critics’ reviews. Despite the fact that these two movies were based on one book, the production period difference of them along with the disparity in both writing and aesthetic styles, as a result, caused the production of totally different films. These two versions were produced within varying contexts and definitely feature the marks of films’ productions. The first film is closer to the original plot, but still it does not cover all power of the original novel. The plot of second is reproduced: the boys from military school are now the protagonists. The second version also features a grown up on the island (a pilot). The 1963 version has more impact on the audience due to its closeness to the novel (narrative and dialogue), and the film style is also far memorable and the 1990 movie does not seem real.

As to the similarities, both two films are based on one book; therefore, the novel and these two movies have a common plot. All of three are rather interesting as well, but only the book reveals the whole picture and features more power. All in all, it should be concluded that despite the fact these two adaptation versions are rather interesting and worth watching, two of them, in fact, fail to reveal the intricacy and power of the original source. Name




Lord of the Flies: Adaptation Project


When it comes to Lord of the Flies, written by William Golding in 1954, it is obvious that it is one of the best masterpieces of the past century. Taking this into account, it is rather surprising, in fact, why today, there have been only two cinematic adaptations of this novel: in 1963 and in 1990. The first version, directed by Peter Brook, was black and white; meanwhile, the second one was already a colorful version, directed by Harry Hook. Therefore, this paper will compare and contract these two adaptations with the original book. However, before reviewing the book and its two adaptation versions, it is of vital importance to take a closer look at the whole adaptation process.

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The Process of Adaptation

Since every adaptation is likely to be an interpretation first of all, it is evident that each interpretation features personal views of the written work. Moreover, not all elements of the original book are retained or reproduced; in fact, they may also be changed or deleted, thus, a completely varying medium may occur. During the time the novel is being adapted, it is of vital importance for the filmmaker to take away lots of things due to the real time difference between the film and the book, and in addition to this, it is clear that the medium is also varying.

Nevertheless, to make the medium more attractive to the audience and look more effective on the screen, there can be (and of course, in some cases, must be) added a lot of things to the film.

Any book and film adaptation are different from each other. The authors in the books, as it is stated at www.kvenno.is, use the following elements:

  • narrative;
  • description;
  • dialogue;
  • expression of thoughts along with interior monologues;
  • figurative language (including metaphors, images, and etc.).

Meanwhile, in film making the following elements are used: pictures and sounds. When it comes to pictures, this includes:

  • ways of shooting: angles, scale, camera movement, and etc.;
  • colors, lighting, contrasts;
  • misè-en scene: background setting, props, make-up, costumes;
  • acting and stars: general appearance, expressions, movements and gestures;
  • editing.

To the sound the following elements should be implied: language, environmental sounds, music and sound effects (http://www.kvenno.is/englishmovies/Adaptation.htm)

Two Cinematic Adaptation Versions

When comparing the mentioned above versions of Lord of the Flies, it can be definitely seen that they were produced within varying contexts. Needless to mention that Peter Brook created his film less than ten years after the publication of the novel. Produced by a little independent company Two Arts Ltd, located in Great Britain, the film was financed by a number of private backers (Brook).

M. Broke asserts that due to the rather small film’s budget, there was a rather limited shooting schedule. In fact, it was on one of the coast of Puerto Rico tiny islands where the filming took place. It is very important to note that there were no professional actors there. In addition, according to M. Brooke, due to the lack of solid script to work from, the filming featured a lot of improvisation (M. Brooke).

Meanwhile, when it comes to Harry Hook’s film, it may be concluded that critics gave mostly positive reviews. Moreover, it should be noticed that on the site Rotten Tomatoes, this film managed to a 100% novel rating (Rotten Tomatoes). According to Entertainment Weekly, being more generous than its predecessor, the budget of Harry Hook’s movie was about $9 million, still, by the era’s standards it was not regarded as the really ‘big-budget’ creation. Furthermore, being produced in a more typical context, the 1990- movie featured the Co-production of several film companies, for example, Castle Rock Entertainment. It was in 1988 summer in Jamaica when the filming took place (Entertainment Weekly).

The latest version also had unknown actors, but, on the other hand, a great number of these not famous actors, prior to Lord of the Flies, were staring at various television shows. Balthazar Getty, playing Ralph, is the most famous cast actor, featuring a rather profile career both in film and television. Indeed, the movies were based upon one source material, but the varying periods they appeared from along with the disparity in both writing and aesthetic styles have presented completely two different film adaptations (Entertainment Weekly).

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Two Cinematic Adaptation Versions and the Book: Differences and Similarities

Frankly speaking, these two Lord of the Flies films tend to adapt the narrative from the original novel. It is evident that the majority of changes, which were done, are a result of the novel to film adaptation. It is interesting that the duration of these movies is practically the same: the first movie’s running time is 92 minutes, meanwhile the second version features 90 minutes. The film of Brook film maintains the original plot; however, it omits some of the novel’s scenes. Such scenes, as when the young boy appears with the birthmark on his face and when he subsequently disappears are omitted. This may be regarded as a rather minor alteration, nevertheless, when comparing to the book, it may be said that in the novel these where the first danger signs. Anyway, since this film is still rather faithful to the original source, there are some differences in the occurring events, besides; a great deal of the novel’s dialogue is reproduced.

When it comes to the latest version of Lord of the Flies, a noticeable departure from both the novel and the first movie can be clearly seen. While comparing to the book and the first movie, Harry’s version amends to a contemporary setting. Therefore, American boys from a military school are now the protagonists, providing the audience with the explanation for their uniforms and chanting. Hook’s version is likely to have been updated to become more resonance with this time society, especially, the American people. Both the references and the dialogue in the latest version tend to relate significantly to the time of its production- late 1980s. For example, in this recent movie the nickname Piggy is given due to one of the characters of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy. In the late 1970s and the 1980s, this TV-show show was rather famous.

Moreover, the most important difference between the latest film and the primary source along with the first film is, perhaps, the presence of the grown-ups on the island. In the last version, unlike the book and the early version, the youngsters must care for the severely injured in the aircraft crash pilot. The fact that at least one adult is present, even being handicapped, reveals the authority sign. Hence, it is obvious that boys keep on hoping that they are not fully responsible for themselves. This can be clearly seen when Simon dreams that once the pilot is awaken and looks well, he encourages the young people to stop worrying because they are now about to be helped. But when Simon wakes up, he realizes that it was only a dream and that the pilot still needs to be taken care for and, in general, there are hardly any chances of his survival. The boys tend to feature the illusion of having a responsible adult while the pilot is not dead. It is clear that they hope that the pilot will soon recover and take control over the situation, diminishing their initial responsibility.

Therefore, when comparing to the novel and the 1963 movie, it can be concluded that the last version fails to have the sign of total isolation from the adults’ presence, being so powerful before. Needless to stress that in this film the threat to the boys is not as in the book from the mysterious enemy. As it can be revealed from the boys’ conversation, this threat is coming from the Russians. This may be regarded as the Cold War preoccupation, appearing in a great deal of 1980s movies. Hence, this relation to Russians who can easily kidnap young boys is, in fact, a significant element of that time.

As a matter of fact, these two films are really interesting and they catch the audience attention. But, they do not fully reveal the books intricacy and power. In addition, they omit some rather important moments from the novel. For instance, Ralph’s dialogue at the very end in both movies has been cut. It is a rather vital scene because it shows how the Golding’s work essence is carved out. Hence, the first version has more impact on the audience because it is closer to the original source (narrative and dialogue), and the film style is also far more memorable. The 1990 movie, in fact, does not seem real. However, these two films failed to completely convey the complexities of the book.

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Therefore, this paper compared and contracted these two adaptations of the novel, called Lord of the Flies. It should be concluded that Lord of the Flies, which was written by William Golding, is such type of novel, which nobody should try to film, at the same time, it is one of the masterpiece of 20’s century literature. Nowadays, there are only two existing movie adaptations of this novel: a low budget black and white film (1963), directed by Peter Brook and a 1990 film with a bigger budget, directed by Harry Hook. As a matter of fact, since these two films are definitely worth watching and are rather interesting films, both of them failed to figure out the total intricacy and power of the novel.

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