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  • Theatrical trailer - 1.85:1, 16:9

Lord of the Flies (1990)

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 87 mins . M15+ . PAL


Hands up everyone who had to read this in high school? Come on, don’t be shy. There you go. Everyone. Okay, well this film is a modern interpretation of that book we all read. There’s some gratuitous swearing and some bloody carnage, not to mention pigshooting! ...with spears. Ahem.

Anyhow, the story is one we are all familiar with: Frodo and Samwise must return the One Ring to Mordor to destroy it before Lord Sauron can get it and rule all of Middle Earth. So they do just that, meeting chums and fighting Deadly Nightshades and sleeping in the Prancing Pony. The End.

Oh, and there were some fireworks too. At a big party, but that was at the start. And a guy with greasy hair and a cool creature called Gollum who calls everything ‘precious’.

So, yeah, we all know the story. While this has been adapted for the screen (again) the story still works really well. Firstly, the boys are all American, not British, and an adult survivor joins the cadets (for a while), there are glowsticks® and some references to TV (Alf in particular). Beautifully shot in varying degrees of lit conditions, the whole film captures the aloneness and beauty surrounding what rapidly descends into ugliness. Sir William Golding’s story hasn’t been butchered too badly here and, in fact, the adult survivor thing throws a more feasible scenario into the story that perhaps the original was missing. Not to say this is a better version than the 1963 British episode - just Americanised.

There’s still plenty of pig’s heads on sticks and stuff, and the calibre of acting from the bunch of young fellas is quite surprising. Balthazar Getty is really the only familiar name to come from the batch here, but the cast does support the story well and is totally convincing.

"We did everything just the way the grown-ups would’ve... what went wrong?"

The similarities to our world and the story as a metaphor for human society and politics has been well documented throughout the years so I shall just say one thing. Metaphors and such aside, this is still a pretty robust story in its own right and one that does paint a pretty accurate portrait of humans returning to their primitive essence when the thin veil of social restrictions and rules are cast away (haha).


Transferred to DVD in its original theatrical presentation of 1.85:1 with 16:9 enhancement, the film looks fairly good. There is some low-level grain in the night shots, but blacks are true and shadows divulge details well. There are some occasional jitters, but these are infrequent and not severe. The beautiful colours of the tropics have been well captured and look magnificent, thankfully, as the whole movie is shot on one island. Whilst the picture does contain some film artefacts, these aren’t too intrusive and are barely noticed by film’s end.

All up it’s a fairly good transfer, and while not perfect, one that is still clear and moderately sharp.


While the sound is really quite good here, there is an imbalance that is slightly irritating. Firstly, the dialogue is all clear and well spoken by these fresh-faced youngsters, but the music comes over the top of it a bit too loud. The dialogue can still be plainly heard, but there are moments when the action ramps up that the music comes in quite strongly, obliterating other sounds. Usually this happens when no one is talking and there’s only generic yelling or whatever, but it had me diving for the remote once or twice.

Apart from that small failing, the music is sensational. Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra with the Trinity Boys Choir, it adds a perfect mood to the film and changes that mood accordingly with some clever use of relevant instruments. The music creates tension mostly, as there are long periods between tense bits in which there is no music at all. This is usually on the beach during the daytime to show the emptiness of their plight and is used well (or as well as silence can be used anyway). Still, the sound is great and a credit to the film.


Unfortunately, not much but the trailer survived the crash. This is, however, delivered in 1:85:1 and 16:9 enhanced and looks okay, although there’s a drab voiceover on it. It runs for a massive one minute 26.


Anyone who loved this classic book (school reading aside, I know you’re out there) should love this beautiful looking interpretation. While not straying too far from the original storyline, it is set today in our world (well, the Alf reference kinda dates it a bit) and still works just fine.

Some sterling performances from Balthazar Getty as Ralph, Chris Furrh as Jack and Danuel Pipoly as the ill-fated Piggy truly bring the story to life, and although a little grisly in parts, it is nevertheless very entertaining viewing. It would have been great to get some more extras included here like filmographies or interviews from stars today, but we’ll have to make do with the trailer.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3168
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      And I quote...
    "J.R.R.Tolkien’s less engaging follow up to his classic series... "
    - Jules Faber
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