William Golding’s 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, was such a success, it became a classic and inspired multiple movies.
A renowned British author, Golding’s post-WWII coming-of-age story is beloved around the world and a must-read. The 1990 movie is powerful because of its young actors, retro film quality, and thoughtful music.
Surprising Young Actors
Today, most adults act in movies. However, in this movie, most of the characters are children, all of whom act extremely well. Piggy, the bullied, fat kid, cries realistically. Drool spews out of his mouth as his face turns tomato red when his glasses are taken.
The young hunters perform brilliantly, too. Although young children are normally innocent and adorable, these pre-adolescent hunters smear blood and charcoal on their faces, giving them a cannibalistic look.
Finally, Ralph, the protagonist, acts very much like a genuine adult. As a child, playing the role of an authoritative grownup is a difficult task. Frankly, these talented, young actors display skills matchable to some talented adult actors. Even more surprising than the accomplished child actors was that the gritty film quality enhanced the visual experiences.
Gritty Film for Gritty Movie
Although some may think the film resolution ruins the movie, the camera was the most advanced technology available during that time. Surprisingly, the unpolished resolution actually adds to the effectiveness of the story.
When the vicious juvenile hunters give themselves a predator look by painting their faces, the blurry camera resolution makes them look scarier, not like clownish kids. This allows the boys to look more animalistic, but not to the point where the audience cannot identify whether or not the boys are human.
Also, when Simon ventures into the cave, the unfocused camera makes the cave seem darker, scarier, and more ominous. Unexpectedly, the use of outdated technology resulted in a mood of realistic terror.
Unmatched Mood Music
A blend of stereotypical tribal and modern music accompanies the visual action and tone of different scenes. For example, when the hunters raid Ralph’s refuge, the drums beat faster and faster as the audience anxiously anticipates the attack. When the characters longingly look out to, sad, slow music plays; the music perfectly matches the speed of the waves.
Old movies may disgust one and please another. Though I usually do not appreciate “historical” movies, this is the first one I actually did thoroughly enjoy. I recommend this or other appropriate versions to those who normally only watch modern movies, so that they may also change their minds. Obviously, for those who love retro movies, this is a must-watch.
Next time a bestselling book comes out, think about watching the movie, even if it dated or not in HD. It may be an oldie, but goodie!