‘Lord of the flies’ by William Golding, Harry Hook, Peter Brooke
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‘Lord of the Flies’, written in 1954 by William Golding, is a classic novel about a group of boys being stranded on a island and the way in which they change due to the change in society that they experience. In this essay I will be comparing the scene of death of Piggy in three different texts, the novel itself and the two films created by Peter Brooke and Harry Hook.
The background to Peter Brooke’s adaptation was the Second World War, or maybe a futuristic war that he predicted to happen or invented. William Golding has maybe used it in the context of the Second World War to give this novel the base that these upper-middle class boys have become stranded on the island due to their evacuation from Britain. Indeed, the simple yet effective photo montage at the beginning of Peter Brooke’s film shows activities at middle class English schools prior to the war and then entwines them with images of the V2 rockets and the Holocaust. This symbolises the link with WWII right from the start of the film.
Harry Hook’s update uses the Vietnam War as a setting for his film, probably to connect more with the American people, as this film was American. This shown in the way Hook has used American military cadets instead of middle-class English schoolboys. He has also updated hymns in Brooke’s film by replacing them with American marching songs. This version of the film was more for audience value than to be closely related to the book. Therefore, this film uses modern equipment like knives and watches to keep the interest of today’s audience.
In each version of ‘Lord of the Flies’ there are similarities and differences in the opening shot. The two films are very easy to compare to one another as they are shot in a completely different way using different effects to enhance the mood they want to convey. The novel shows the how vulnerable the boys are and instantly expresses this feeling of apprehension of what’s to come next as you know that Ralph Piggy and Samneric are greatly outnumbered, Ralph is ‘limping a little’ and carrying a spear which gives the impression that a fight is going to occur, even though it isn’t in Ralph’s nature from what we previously have seen of him. In addition, because Ralph is prepared to fight for Piggy’s glasses, doing something he is greatly against, shows the importance of the glasses for getting them rescued which Ralph is extremely passionate about. Also the twins are carrying spears and guiding Piggy who cannot see, therefore they are very susceptible to attack by the savages.
The way that Brook shows the boys walking to Castle Rock instantaneously shows that something is going to happen. The main feature at the beginning is the boys walking slowly alone, along a beautiful coastline. You cannot at first depict the faces of each boy because of the long shot taken. They four boys are looked down upon by the camera with the raging sea and large rocks around, enhancing the effect of them being small, weak and insignificant. Even though it is obvious to the audience that something bad is going to happen, this doesn’t take them determined look of the boys away as they are posed as being the heroes, especially Ralph.
In comparison to this, the Hook version shows the scene to be more religious and sacrificial due it being shown in brighter lights, losing the darkness of the surroundings. This is contradictory to the way the boys have been shown throughout the whole of this version. The background noise is that of choral singing instead of crashing, menacing waves. Also it is only Ralph and Piggy that approach Castle Rock, and Piggy is wearing his cadet uniform and appearing to have no problems with sight. This shows all the boys as being equals and the feeling of savagery and inequality is lost.
Both films have shown the general idea of the book, but both leave out some points, maybe to enhance the amount it appeals to the audience, which is what films are for. Neither film shows the injury Ralph sustains as in the book he ‘went first, limping a little’ and they leave out his ragged appearance. This is probably because, as the hero of the book he can’t be looking weak. In the novel written by Golding he helps to bring understanding to this part of the book by briefly reflecting on what has happened on the island previously. He shows that reader how a beautiful island or place can be affected by the people their and the society they create for themselves. This reflects Goldings view on human nature, as he believes that deep down we are all evil.
When Jack and Ralph meet at castle Rock there is immediate conflict between them due to their differences in opinion on how the island should be run. In all three texts the boys are displayed as arguing from the beginning and this cause a build up of tension as each text had already shown that a fight might occur. Also as Ralph is only trying to do the right thing the audience feel a strong emotion of concern for him as Jack is supposed to be much bigger and stronger than him. Golding uses words to build up the tension by saying things like ‘Ralph’s temper blazed’. The main scene of their conflict, being the fight, is also portrayed quite similarly in each text.
In Brooke’s film the camera is used to build up tension as well as the dialogue. Short camera angles are used to reflect Golding’s staccato language. The camera is used to shows Jack’s domination as a low angled shot is used on him but high angled shots are used on Ralph. This puts a look of vulnerability on Ralph and as he is the supposed hero it fills the audience with feelings of anxiety for their hero. The shadow of the rock falls on Jack’s face, which seems to hide any emotion he might be feeling when Ralph speaks. Also he wears his mask, like in the book, which makes his savage and barbarous side seem much more sinister.
Hook’s film used stronger language to convey the feelings of anger between the boys. There were similar camera movements to that of Brooke’s film but the actual fighting would appeal more to today’s audience as it was much more physical. Jack doesn’t wear a mask in this so we can see the emotions but it takes away the savagery of the story and makes it seem more like young boys playing a game.
I would say that the main features of the fight are similarly depicted in each text as you can see the anger and tension build up as well as the loss of society. This loss of society is shown because of Ralph, the good-tempered boy, being brought down to jack’s level of using fights to settle problems. Not that Jack needed much provoking.
The evil and sinister character of Roger plays a significant role in the death of Piggy in each of the three texts. In the novel he is first introduced when he is throwing rocks at younger boys but the influence of society still had a hold on him, as he didn’t actually make the rocks hit the boys. We are never told of the physical appearance of Roger until this scene when he ‘with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever’.
In Brooke’s film he is introduced early. We see his face in front of the sky making him seem like an almost god like figure. Maybe it is a representation of how appearances can be deceptive and even someone who is shown to look good can be evil, sinister and capable of committing something like murder. Brook shows Roger has having black paint around his eyes and mouth, enhancing the feeling of evil and destructiveness. His intentions are clear as the scene advances as the camera is on him for a long time. His hand is shown as going towards the lever, building p the tension when eventually it climaxes and a great force is used to send the rock down on top of Piggy.
In Hook’s film Roger is not so well shown as he is hidden behind the cliff edge. Once he releases the rock onto Piggy his face is no longer a mystery as it becomes clear. This shows that he has no remorse for his actions and leaves the audience feel a strange sense of hatred towards this child.
Piggy is one of the first developed characters in Golding’s book and this scene is mainly about him and the inflictions that a changing society has had on him. There are similarities and differences about him in each of the texts but the main feeling of him not fitting in is shown through each. In the film by peter Brooke the character of Piggy is shown to be quite uneasy as he is kneeling on a rock, oblivious to what is going on around him due to not being able to see. The camera is overhead, making him look defenceless and weak as he is helpless. The sounds of the crashing waves against the rocks drown out his common voice and he is lost when Ralph seems to forget what he came for. This makes the audience feel empathy for Piggy.
Harry Hook changes Piggy to make him fit in with what the audience wants. Piggy doesn’t seem to be very visually impaired and he stands on the platform alongside Ralph as though he is there for back up in case Ralph gets hurt. Even in scenes of the fight Piggy is still incorporated into it by being in the background. Maybe this is to remind the audience of the real reason the Ralph and Piggy came to Castle Rock, to get the glasses back. In the book Piggy is extremely fearful for his safety as he clings to the rocks as though clinging for his life. ‘ “Am I safe?” quavered Piggy. “I feel awful”‘. Brooke’s film is exceptionally good at picking up the fact that Piggy is at a severe disadvantage. Hook’s film seems to lack the emotions of Piggy whereas the strong description in the book, and the words of Piggy in Brooke’s film evoke all the feelings of fear that should be there.
The main part of this scene has to be the murder of a main character, Piggy. Each text transmits this part of the scene differently, creating a different impact on the audience. In the novel by Golding, Piggy is almost being compared to a pig after his death. It is quite ironic that ‘Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a bit, just like a pig after it’s been killed’. This language is quite severe and is almost as though the loss of Piggy doesn’t seem to bother Golding, or maybe he is just trying to build up the affect of the way the killer, Roger, is feeling. That evil has taken over the boys as it does in human nature so they would’ feel any remorse. After Piggy dies there is a silence as little speech is used, conveying the idea that the boys are in shock. But following this Jack throws a spear at Ralph and Ralph flees. This isn’t shown in either of the films.
Brook has quite a long build up to the actual death of Piggy. The camera continuously moves towards the jagged rocks and raging sea to show the danger that lies around them. Also when Piggy is shown the rocks and sea are incorporated into the frame so it is him, alone, surrounded by danger. In the build up to the climax of the death the camera switched between Piggy and Roger, with longer shots on Roger as Piggy’s death draws closer.
This shows the audience that there is a link to come between Roger and Piggy, which builds up anticipation of what will happen. As Piggy is in such a vulnerable position and Roger is shown to be at a height, Piggy is instantly the underdog. While this is slowly building up the noise of the boys jeering gets louder and sounds more like a siren, maybe an air raid siren if this is in the context of war. This is significant as it shows the society that Golding has witnessed and the tragedy of war. As Roger is pushing the rock, his face is emotionless until it falls, then an evil smirk goes across his face, finalising the evil within him. To build up the strain of pushing the rock the camera stays still as Roger moves out of the picture. We see the rock rolling down and then see it from Piggy’s viewpoint of the Rock falling on him. Immediately there is no sound except the crashing waves that have engulfed Piggy. The camera shows the expression of very character and each seems shocked by this action except Roger. To lengthen this scene and had to the horror of it the camera focuses on Ralph looking down as though he is in total disbelief.
Harry Hook has changed this scene to suit the culture and desire of today’s audience. There isn’t much of a build up and you don’t see the link between Roger and Piggy, therefore don’t feel the build up of emotion that you do in the other two texts. As the rock falls Ralph shouts pout in disbelief and the frame is shown in slow motion. Then the rock hits Piggy on the head and he falls down into a pool of blood. The scene is very unrealistic as the rock almost seems to bounce of Piggy’s head and there it is not climatically built up. This doesn’t follow the text of Golding as Piggy was washed into the sea and away. As Ralph races away fro castle Rock all the savages are throwing rocks at him which is quite childish behaviour and is maybe telling Ralph that if he comes to this end of the island again it will be him that will be killed by a larger rock.
All three texts used to demonstrate the story of ‘Lord of the Flies’ are shown differently and used to have different affects due to the time period they were produced in. In my opinion the Peter Brooke film is directed the best as it follows the book much more accurately and follows very closely what would have appealed to the audience of this time. Harry Hook’s version of the book doesn’t follow the story line and tries to appeal to today’s’ audience. But as someone of today’s time period I don not feel that this was a successful film and the feelings of horror and anticipation are lost. I like the book as the way in which Gilding writes builds up an image of what each character looks like and the events that took place. To me this means that the book is successfully written. The book was written just after World War 2 and the devastation of the loss of community at this time was shown through the story and the way the characters adapted to their surroundings. The people of this time period could probably relate to the savagery and murders committed for no reason, e.g.- the persecution of the Jews because they were Jews – the death of Piggy because he was different. I also like the way in each text, social stereotypes were included, mainly with Piggy’s character, as this helped make the storyline more real.