3 August 2017



'An expert shocker, fearsomely realistic and almost unbearably suspenseful.'
New York Daily News

New Yorker

This isn't an easy one to watch. It's a great film, mind you, and it's won much critical acclaim, just like the book that spawned it is a multi-award-winning tome that regularly appears on BEST NOVEL lists. 

Most of us were probably forced to read it at school, haha, where all the excitement and headiness would have been well and truly squeezed out of it by the dry dustiness and worthiness of good old academia. Maybe we should all read it again as adults, now that we're free to make up our own minds about the book, which by the way is a brilliant read.

That doesn't make it any easier to watch, however. It's a film about kids, but I wouldn't show it to any kids aged below fifteen, frankly. In some ways, it even comes under the category of horror, possibly. Let's take a closer look at what all the almighty hoo-ha is about, shall we...?

It's World War Two and a bunch of English schoolboys, complete with 'what-ho!' accents, untidy thatches of tousled sun-bleached hair and short trousers, have found themselves entirely alone on a Pacific island after their plane crashed. The plane was taking them to safety, incidentally, evacuating them far from the horrors of war, but with obviously unexpected results.

The film reminds me a little of the movie ALIVE, that fantastic story of survival in the unforgiving Andes mountains based on the book by Piers Paul Read. Well, it was actually based, of course, on the real-life experiences of Nando Parrado and his fellow Uruguayan college students, when the plane they were travelling in crashed in the mountains while transporting them to a rugby game in the neighbouring Chile. As Mr. Burns from THE SIMPSONS says: 'That South American rugby team crashed in MY mountain range...!'

There's also an excellent LORD OF THE FLIES parody done by THE SIMPSONS, involving monkey butlers, delicious wine, vegetarian Lisa licking slime off the rocks and a junior branch of the Model UN. It's hilariously funny, and as Milhouse is the only kid wearing glasses, well, guess who gets to play the role of Piggy...? As Nelson says: 'The hunt... is... on...!' You can bet your life it is...

Anyway, the boys accustom themselves astonishingly quickly to life on the island (even though it's haunted by a mysterious 'beast' which they love to scare themselves silly talking about), which is positively lush with gorgeous vegetation and tons of fruit and water for them to drink. Their mothers back in Blighty needn't be worried that they're not getting their five-a-day, haha.

The lads separate naturally and organically into two camps, as it were. One camp is led by Ralph, the main character, and his adorable sidekick Piggy, a chubby little bespectacled fellow who serves as the butt of many jokes just because he's a tad rotund, and unfortunately short-sighted to boot. Aw...!

The second camp is led by Jack, head of the choirboys, whom we first see marching down the beach in perfect formation and in full choirboy uniforms, singing 'Kyrie Eleison,' which, in the Greek, means 'Lord Have Mercy.' It's an astonishing sight, by Jove, and the last thing you'd expect to see on the shores of a desert island.

Ironically, not much mercy is shown by Jack to his fellow survivors. He proves himself to be a rather vicious and bloodthirsty leader, refusing to submit to Ralph's authority (Ralph and Piggy have got the conch, after all!) and turning his followers almost overnight into a little band of painted savages who hunt and kill their own grub with spears, sticks and rocks.

It must be that whole choir-killing connection thing there, haha. Why else would former choirboys turn themselves in record time into murderous little thugs who run around in the nip, with their faces gaudily streaked with paint, slaughtering animals- and other things- wholesale? 

One minute you're singing ever-so-sweetly about the love of God, next minute you're bashing a pig over the head with a rock and daubing your face with his poor piggy-blood. God Almighty. If that's what choir practice does to you, I'm glad my own kids were never that crazy about it...!

The boys' natural desire to form an orderly society in place of the one from which they've been wrenched disintegrates quickly, as the general free-for-all to which they descend erupts in a shocking act of violence. Can there be any way back for the boys after what they've done?

The veneer of civilisation is (st)ripped away from them, like a scab being pulled from a cut, leaving only the ugly, oozing pus-filled wound beneath, blinking in its exposure to the glaring sunlight. Where do the boys go from there? God only knows, dear readers. God alone knows...

Shot in an effective black-and-white with a gorgeous musical score and-ahem- some slightly unnecessary male nudity, this thought-provoking and visually stunning film is available to
buy now on Blu-Ray from THE CRITERION COLLECTION. 

It's accompanied by some absolutely cracking extra features as well, including an interview with the director from 2008 and a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Geoffrey McNab and an excerpt from the director Peter Brook's book, THE SHIFTING POINT. Some smashing stuff in there, guys.

I probably wouldn't show LORD OF THE FLIES to the young 'uns, not unless they're exceptionally mature for their ages and well-adjusted into the bargain, but older teens may be able to appreciate its message alongside their parents, if the parents maybe take the time to chat with them about it afterwards.

Anyway, it's getting bloody chilly in here. Autumn's on the way, you know. We'll be seeing conkers on the ground soon. Time to light a fire, methinks. Where's Piggy with those bloody glasses, then...?


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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