43 Lord of the Flies

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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MichaelB
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#51 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:41 am

Those grabs make it pretty clear that 1.33:1 is indeed the intended aspect ratio.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#52 Post by EddieLarkin » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:23 am

The film looks great at 1.37:1 (despite Beaver's specs, the transfer is the full Academy ratio), unlike most of the films that are subject to these sort of debates. The cameraman's approval trumps whatever we make of the image ourselves anyway, especially in light of the lack of documentation. But I don't see a single cap there that doesn't crop fine to 1.66:1. Bearing in mind you only lose approximately 9% of the image off the top, and another 9% off the bottom when matting at that ratio. All of them fit just right, except for the close up of Simon's face, as his lips get cropped. But that cap is deceptive, as that frame is part of push towards his face; even in full frame his lips eventually get cropped (this is why individual frames are useless in these debates).

What I can't get over is the fact that someone, somewhere, (studio exec? production member? Brook himself?), approved both 1.66:1 and 1.78:1 transfers of this film for various different DVD releases. What was their reasoning? Why present a DVD of a film, which at the time is largely going to be watched on 1.33:1 sets anyway, in wide if full frame is the correct AR?

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MichaelB
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#53 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:29 am

Dear God, will you never let this go? Why on earth does it matter?

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#54 Post by EddieLarkin » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:32 am

...my apologies. I took your post as an invitation. As I said above, the film looks great and if the cameraman says so, I believe it was composed for 1.37:1. I'm just curious over an unanswered question.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#55 Post by david hare » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:40 am

This was only ever shown from first release onwards - as I recall from my adolescence - in Academy. Peter Brook was ever so precious. (if you will.)

That, as the say, was that. (As I recall.)

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#56 Post by EddieLarkin » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:55 am

david hare wrote:That, as the say, was that. (As I recall.)
I think it's humourous to note that everyone from criterionforum.org that saw this film on original release, naturally saw it in Academy, whilst everyone from hometheaterforum.com who saw it on original release, naturally saw it wide (that good pal of yours Mr. Kimmel saw it a whopping 10 times on original release week, in 1.85:1!).

I wasn't around back then, but was it typical of theaters to let patrons choose what AR they wanted to see a new release in?! :wink:

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#57 Post by MichaelB » Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:19 am

EddieLarkin wrote:I wasn't around back then, but was it typical of theaters to let patrons choose what AR they wanted to see a new release in?! :wink:
Yes, it happened all the time. We used to poll our audience members in the foyer before letting them in. Sometimes things got quite aggressive, but we kept a fenced-off corner handy for them to sort out their differences, plus a mop and bucket behind the popcorn counter to wash up the blood afterwards.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#58 Post by zedz » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:10 pm

MichaelB wrote:
EddieLarkin wrote:I wasn't around back then, but was it typical of theaters to let patrons choose what AR they wanted to see a new release in?! :wink:
Yes, it happened all the time. We used to poll our audience members in the foyer before letting them in. Sometimes things got quite aggressive, but we kept a fenced-off corner handy for them to sort out their differences, plus a mop and bucket behind the popcorn counter to wash up the blood afterwards.
That was all for the one percent who didn't just shrug, ask "what's an aspect ratio?" or simply rubbish the very idea that movies came in different sizes.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#59 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:24 pm

I thought all theatres were equipped with Mr Payback-style buzzers that allowed the audience to vote from their seats at any time for the aspect ratio they'd like to see

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Moe Dickstein
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#60 Post by Moe Dickstein » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:21 pm

Omg I still remember seeing Mr. Payback opening weekend. The magic of laserdiscs...

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warren oates
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#61 Post by warren oates » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:34 pm

For the height of immersion/interaction, forget about 3D and choose-your-own-adventure, I'm still waiting for John Waters to upgrade Odorama to the olfactory version of Dolby Atmos.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#62 Post by krnash » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:58 pm

Blu-ray.com review

"Peter Brook - in this video interview, director Peter Brook discusses the production history of Lord of the Rings..."

Okay, now this I have to hear! :lol:

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#63 Post by tenia » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:19 am

And now it's "discussion Lord of the Files".

Close enough.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#64 Post by Lowry_Sam » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:20 am

warren oates wrote:For the height of immersion/interaction, forget about 3D and choose-your-own-adventure, I'm still waiting for John Waters to upgrade Odorama to the olfactory version of Dolby Atmos.
...and I'm waiting for blu-ray upgrades that give us the option of seeing Waters' earlier films in full frame (which, apparently now in the age of widescreens, was not his original intent after all this time).

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Anthony
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#65 Post by Anthony » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:00 pm

Does anyone else notice a halo around Piggy near the beginning of the film at the 6:12 mark (but only when he is in motion)? You can't see it in slow motion (nor during pause/freeze frame), but rather only at normal speed. Very strange effect. What could be causing this?

So, does no one else see this problem???
Last edited by Anthony on Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Fred Holywell
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#66 Post by Fred Holywell » Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:27 pm


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Charles
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#67 Post by Charles » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:21 pm

Fred Holywell wrote:Three Reasons
Damned nice aspect ratio.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#68 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed May 09, 2018 9:17 pm

William Golding joins Anthony Burgess and D.H. Lawrence as part of an odd phenomenon of major British authors who're known primarily if not exclusively for a single novel that ranks nowhere near that author's best. Lord of the Flies, as a novel, isn't a half bad adventure story, but it's suffocated by the schematic and over-determined allegory that is its prime reason for being. Its characters in particular suffer from it, too often playing parts in a scheme to be convincing human beings. This is a problem that sometimes plagues the later novels (see: Matty in Darkness Visible), but for the most part Golding would master his allegories of the fall and of original sin in subsequent novels, turning out intense and astonishing myths. The novels directly following this one, especially The Inheritors, Pincher Martin, and The Spire are superior examples of the same techniques, ones written in a denser and more highly pitched prose.

There's the problem, too, that the themes of the novel don't really work. The allegory assumes that sin, darkness, ect., is the natural state of humanity, with civilization and culture (the conch symbolism) providing rules and structures that hide this and let us forget the evil in our hearts. Without civilization, even children quickly revert to savagery and primitivism. The problem of course is that all the so-called savagery and primitivism the children show, the in-fighting, power hierarchies, jealousies, status desires, and selfish pursuit of personal gain, are not the kind of behaviours you find natural to primitive societies or aboriginal peoples, for the plain reason that they wouldn't have survived if that were the case. Where you actually find these kinds of behaviours are within more structured environments like boarding schools, where explicit rankings, hierarchies, and cruelty in the form of punishments in turn breed kids who perform their own versions of the same to each other. Hence so many books and movies about boarding schools are concerned with just this kind of thing (in Criterion alone, we have If... and Young Törless). So as a myth of the fall and of inborn human evil, it doesn't work given how its evils are plainly learned social behaviours rather than a part of primitive nature.

The movie follows closely from the book, but it's looser and less formal than its famously closed-off and formally constructed source. Part of this is down to the filming: many of the scenes are shot and edited without regard for conventional film techniques. Group scenes are shot mostly in wider establishing shots, with important characters often talking with their backs to the camera; dialogue scenes are usually shot from only one side of what should be shot-reverse-shot; there are few close ups or cut ins; space is often not preserved by the editing, with subsequent events in a scene often happening with a jarring edit. Ralph isn't even given a proper introduction; it's quite a long time before we see his face, tho' Piggy is introduced in a classical manner. This looseness makes the experience a bit awkward, but it does give more life and air to the film than the book managed. It has some of the awkwardness and roughness of life; you feel the haphazard, ad hoc nature, the chaotic jumble of trying to film children in the wilderness. A more formally composed film would've taken on the book's stuffiness, to its detriment. The film is also more successful at showing the daily life and activities of the children, the way they scream and play and swim and make up games with each other.

The allegory of the book is there, and it's a weakness, but overall the film is less concerned with its allegory, doing little to emphasize a lot of the book's symbolism aside from a few key moments with Simon. The movie works, indeed it works in ways the book sometimes doesn't, and remains effective and persuasive. It's superior to the more professionally assembled redo.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#69 Post by colinr0380 » Thu May 10, 2018 3:44 am

I wonder if part of Lord of the Flies' popularity as a novel comes from it being a ubiquitous set text in schools? (In a rotation with Journey's End, Educating Rita and 'a Shakespeare' during my early 90s school days!)

I agree on all of your points Mr Sausage, especially the idea that the story is a bit more of a class allegory than a human nature one (I especially love in the film the way that the school choir appear out of the island, having fallen back into a strictly regimented procession! And that Jack and his choir are respectfully allowed to be a 'breakaway faction' whilst truly dangerous loners like Simon or Piggy have to submit or be punished. Or be sacrificed for the survival of others), and in some ways this makes an interesting contrast with the slightly rough nature of the 1963 film's style and the more natural, less mannered performances of some of the kids. It is as if the filming style is allowed to be a bit rougher to match the imperfect makeshift civilisation created by the boys.

I do quite like the Americanised 1990 version of Lord of the Flies too though (even if its political and cultural underpinnings are a bit different and not particularly convincing), especially because it makes a fun double bill with Dead Poets Society!

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#70 Post by Feiereisel » Thu May 10, 2018 8:07 am

When teaching the novel, I took a lot of care not to conflate primitivism and savagery. As noted, class is hugely important to the novel, and while the savagery is innate to the children, society’s rules, as Sausage says, merely provide a cover for the everyday cruelty that is part and parcel of society. The values of other so-called “primitive” societies compared to the children on the island have—or should have—nothing to do with the novel’s thematic and symbolic structure.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#71 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu May 10, 2018 10:04 am

colin wrote:specially the idea that the story is a bit more of a class allegory than a human nature one
I think the story would've been more effective as a statement on class if it had been kept in a boarding school, say, and not abstracted into an Eden substitute. The book and film do include one element of class examination, the bit about piggy's "ass-mar". Obviously the way Piggy talks, ie. the class he belongs to, sets him off from the other children, and this is included in an explicit list of the things that alienates him from the other characters. In a Marxist allegory, it would be the thing, but in the novel it's a smaller part of a more complex process, just one more screw to be tightened as it were. It could be the allegorist in Golding is using it to show how the rationalist and intellectual just doesn't talk enough like those it wishes to provide with wisdom, and so plays a Cassandra role, and Golding just used the idea of regional accent as the symbol.

But then Golding has always been uniquely unconcerned with contemporary issues. Golding is always reaching back to things he feels are more central and timeless, more primitive or more deeply rooted in humanity. This is why only three of his books take place within contemporary society (The Pyramid, Darkness Visible, The Paper Men), and the two that are contemporary in terms of time-frame (Lord of the Flies and Pincher Martin) are pointedly outside modern society, taking place on a jungle island and an isolated rock in the sea, respectively. The only novels of his to explicitly examine class as a theme are the To the End of the Earth trilogy, and they take place in the early 19th century. It explains why so many of his books take place in pre-modern societies.

The movie of Lord of the Flies reflects this: it has the asthma teasing, but not a lot is made of it, and none of the characters explicitly mention class. The closest it comes is Jack using his status as head boy to argue that he should be leader (but we are meant to understand the reasons he wants it run deeper than that). The later American movie obviously has to drop the pronunciation aspect, and the story loses nothing by it.
Feiereisel wrote:When teaching the novel, I took a lot of care not to conflate primitivism and savagery. As noted, class is hugely important to the novel, and while the savagery is innate to the children, society’s rules, as Sausage says, merely provide a cover for the everyday cruelty that is part and parcel of society. The values of other so-called “primitive” societies compared to the children on the island have—or should have—nothing to do with the novel’s thematic and symbolic structure.
Golding has a good quote about this: If these kids were dropped into an earthly paradise "they would not behave like God-fearing English gentlemen [but] as like as not...find savages who were kindly and uncomplicated ... The devil would rise out of the intellectual complications of the three white men." Frank Kermode (from whose essay I've taken that quote) reads it as: "Golding leaves the noble savages out of Lord of the Flies but this remark is worth quoting because it states the intellectual position in its basic simplicity. It is the civilized who are corrupt, out of phase with natural rhythm. Their guilt is the price of evolutionary success; and our awareness of this fact can be understood by duplicating Ballantyne's situation [ie. the situation of his book The Coral Island, to which Golding's book is a response], borrowing his island, and letting his theme develop in this new and more substantial context.

Kermode's interpretation applies equally to the novel Golding wrote right after, The Inheritors, in which our evolutionary success over neanderthal man comes at the price of corruption, alienation from the natural world, and the knowledge of evil that constitutes original sin. Perhaps Golding's allegory works a bit better than I said above.

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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#72 Post by Feiereisel » Thu May 10, 2018 1:22 pm

Great quote, Sausage--excellent food for thought. The regressive primitivism reading is also complicated by the the things on the island that terrify the children. They create a "beast" out of their imagination that is then embodied by a pilot's rotting, wind-animated corpse--a casualty of the war in the background of the novel--and the "talking" pig's head. The malice comes from within; even before their society-in-miniature collapses, it still is stratified and factional. "Sucks to your ass-mar!"--whether there is structure or chaos, for example, Piggy is the whipping boy.

Sidestepping the specific racial connotations of the term "savage" also seemed necessary at the time, if for no other reason than to allow the class a clean approach to the material. It's a discussion worth having with regard to the novel in a different context, but too much for the grade level(s) at which the novel is usually taught, especially while reading the novel for the first time. (It could be had, though, with careful preparation.)

It's a very interesting novel to teach; it pairs well with philosophical texts related to the nature of man, and introduces a lot of abstract concepts to middle- and high-school students just as they begin move out of childhood. It is a simple text, in both terms of writing and plot, but as a springboard to discuss heavier, more abstract ideas...it's pretty fantastic. Rereading it to teach it was a ton of fun (though I should probably get around to watching the film sooner or later).
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Re: 43 Lord of the Flies

#73 Post by domino harvey » Thu May 10, 2018 1:52 pm

Well, this was the "surprise" novel I had to conjure up a lesson plan for during my teacher certification test, so I'm personally grateful for its simplicity because I was able to remember enough about it from high school to come up with activities and lesson plans in the allotted ~20 minutes. As a side note, one of the other options was Taming of the Shrew, and I've always wanted to hear the justification for that being the token Shakespeare option for secondary classroom certification

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43 Lord of the Flies

#74 Post by movielocke » Wed May 30, 2018 1:40 am

By happenstance, I’ve watched a lot of films in the last few months set in posh British boys schools (perhaps one of the more vile creations of humanity, as best I can tell) and I wonder if the interpretation of the novel I got in school about the human condition as nasty and Brutish (and short) absent civilization is well, more or less exactly wrong.

Rather this is pure civilization stripped of its facades. (Or less grandiosely, this is meant as a much smaller scale explicit critique of the schools rather than larger universal aims)

The boys are displaying exactly the society they’ve been inculcated with in their boarding school and are playing out the precise roles and actions society enthusiastically encourages them to engage in, but the usual limiting constraints on behavior the schools allegedly impose have been lifted on the island.

That is to say, Jack and the other murderers will probably all be in parliament later on in life, once they’re off the island. :-p

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