Lord of the Flies (1963)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Lord of the Flies</strong> (1963)

(Kanopy Streaming, November 2018) I’m not sure about you, but our high school English curriculum in French-schools Ontario in the very early 1990s included what felt like half a year on William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. As a result, I have suffered permanent retention of the novel and the film (which we must have seen at least once during the ordeal). Now, let’s be clear: Golding’s novel is rather good, but one way to suck the enjoyment out of anything is to take it apart in high school English class. As a result, watching the film even as a middle-aged man is an exercise is restating the obvious. While the film does have its occasional directorial flourishes (I’m thinking of the opening juxtaposition of boarding-school pictures and increasingly violent military images) and does nicely with an all-kids cast, I know far too much about Lord of the Flies’ plot, characters, themes, symbolism and ironies to be surprised at much of the movie adaptation. If it makes a difference, consider that I had more or less the same reaction at a recent viewing of 1984’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: Knowing the story inside and out makes the film dull, especially if it’s a spectacularly faithful version. One thing I wished was different is if the film had been shot in colour—you do miss a lot by setting a film on a tropical island and having it in black-and-white. Otherwise, what else can I say? I bet the movie is still shown in high-school classes that study the novel.

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