"Lord of the Flies"
Directed by Marc Forster
Written by Steven Knight
Based on the book by William Golding
Cinematography by Roberto Schaefer
Edited by Matt Cheese
Freddie Highmore as Ralph
Thomas Turgoose as “Piggy”
Lewis McGibbon as Jack
Alex Etel as Simon
Tagline: "We deny it. We shun it. We fear it. But in the end, evil is still there"
Synopsis: Silence. This was Ralph’s world until his eyes opened to a new surrounding. He didn’t know how the plane crashed, but he knew that it had landed on an island. He looked around. There was no one there. No kids. No adults. No soldiers. He was alone. In front of him, a beach gently rolled waves onto the sand. It seemed so calm, cool and relaxing. And he did feel warm. He stripped his clothes off and dove head first into the waves. The flow of the water filled him with renewed life. He could never do this at home. Then, as the wave receded, Ralph saw something he didn’t expect to see. At the shoreline stood a chubby boy, dressed in the same boarding school uniform he had…
Confusion. The sound of all the boys talking at once made the chubby boy’s head hurt. He didn’t like so much noise. His auntie’s candy store was always so quiet. Ralph blew the conch the two had found to quiet them all down. After a vote, Ralph was elected the leader, while Jack, who was beaten in the vote, would lead the choirboys as hunters. Their first order of business: make a fire so someone would rescue them. Ralph, Jack and a boy named Simon volunteered to find a good signal point. When the chubby boy offered to go with them, Jack responded, “We don’t need you fatty”. Then Ralph accidentally revealed the boy’s mocking nickname at school, “Piggy”. As the three leave for the trek, “Piggy” stands there, indignant over his new friend’s big mouth…
Adrenaline. The anticipation of it filled Jack’s veins. The pig trail they had discovered was now Jack’s usual hunting spot. It was the first time he felt this good in a while. He still steamed over the boys voting that wimp Ralph as the leader instead of him. While he realized the conch was what made Ralph seem like a leader, he couldn’t stand the boy’s stubbornness towards rescue or his fat blob friend “Piggy”. All this thinking made his belly ached, having only eaten fruit for the last week. He needed meat and he was going to get it. Screw rescue! For now though, he thought he would have a little fun while he waited. Grabbing a small bit of clay on the ground, he smeared markings around his eyes and on his cheeks. He looked down at his reflection in a puddle. He liked how it looked. Even through the sweat and dirt he’s collected on him, he noticed that the paint brings something new to him. A side he’s never seen before. And it felt good too…
Contention. Simon saw it happen and still sees it from his hideaway. An evil has been brewing inside the boys ever since Jack abandoned the group, though no one would admit it. It was his fault the fire went out while he hunted, but Simon knew it was mostly because he couldn’t stand Ralph anymore. The worst was the taunt he made before leaving; ‘If you want to have fun, I’ll be on the other side of the island.” Simon knew this had peaked many of the boys’ interest. It was only a matter of time until they decided whom they wanted to follow…
What the Press would say:
“Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her head. Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her head.” This is a disturbing chant on its own terms. Now imagine a dozen half-naked pre-teen boys in war paint chanting this as they savagely stab a pig with crudely made spears. What do you get? One of the most memorable, if disgusting, scenes from Marc Forster’s interpretation of the classic book “Lord of the Flies”. Don’t be deceived by the cast folks. This is not a kid’s movie.
Much like Golding’s novel, “Lord of the Flies”, adapted by Eastern Promise’s Knight, is a deep examination on the delicate balance of civilization and the potential for animalistic behavior. As the boys’ stay longer on the island, their primal “evil” nature begins to manifest itself. It’s just a game at first, but as the boys start to lose grip of their power to reason, they devolve into a savage, tyrannical way of life. Soon, the audience begins to understand, just as Ralph does, that without proper leadership, civilization crumbles and nothing can truly save it. The story extends more than to just the boys though. It’s a microcosm of the world around them. As Ralph and Jack wage a power war between each other, World War II rages in the real world. So, is it just man’s nature to keep fighting and succumbing to such horrible acts? This is the most potent question of the book and the film.
This may well be Forster’s most ambitious film because he’s out of his comfort zone. However, that’s not to say he isn’t prepared. Like his previous films, there’s a slight surrealism to his presentation. Using brightly colored cinematography, beautiful jungle settings, an absence of musical score and minimal dialogue, you really feel like this island and its inhabitants are detached from the world we know. On that note, the cinematography is especially praiseworthy for its artsy execution. All the images, from that grisly kill to Simon’s “conversation” with the “Lord of the Flies” (a decapitated pig’s head on a stick), are staged like beautiful works of art and make excellent use of color and lighting. Forster isn’t just all flash here however. The storytelling is well crafted and professional throughout. Each part of the story reaches appropriate highs and lows without feeling forced and the sparse dialogue is faithful to the book’s great lines.
All the performances are top notch, which is surprising considering a cast ranging between nine and sixteen. Freddie Highmore gives a career best here as Ralph. As one of the few voices of reason in the film, the audience can relate to the difficulties of keeping his democratic leadership together and his frustration over its failure. His nonverbal work is superb, making great use of facial expressions and gestures. The supporting cast is equally talented. Turgoose, having gained a few pounds to play this role, does a great job playing “Piggy”. You sympathize with the fact that while he’s obviously the smartest boy in the group, he’d be incredibly annoying to have as a friend. Of course, this is before his untimely demise near the end of the film, which gives his character a lot more purpose. McGibbon is an ideal Jack, as his descent into tribal behavior feels natural and is well performed. This, along with his cunning delivery, should consider him Oscar worthy. And then there’s Etel, whose innocent Simon becomes a martyr to help the film make its point.
“Lord of the Flies” is one of the year’s best adaptations. With its artistic presentation, powerful storytelling and talented youth cast, it will be a force to reckon with come Oscar night.
Best Director (Marc Forster)
Best Actor (Freddie Highmore)
Best Supporting Actor (Lewis McGibbon)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Steven Knight)
Best Cinematography (Roberto Schafer)
Best Art Direction
Best Editing (Matt Cheese)