Blu-Ray Review: Lord of the Flies (Criterion Collection)

One of the most perverse aspects of the National Curriculum is the fact that generations of children throughout the UK grew up reading many of the same books. Animal Farm, An Inspector Calls and Blood Brothers have proved popular, but it’s probably William Golding’s Lord of the Flies which has had the most resonance. In 1963, it was brought to the screen by director Peter Brook. Using a non-professional cast, and shooting during the school holidays, Brook took a fly-on-the-wall approach to filming.

After their plane is shot down, 30 boys find themselves stranded on a remote island. With no adults to take control, a vote is held and Ralph (Balthazar Getty) is elected as chief ahead of head choirboy Jack (Chris Furrh). Whilst Ralph tries to organise a co-operative society, the choir boys, led by Jack, designate themselves as hunters. As tensions rise between the two leaders, and talk of ‘The Beast’ begins to dominate their discussions, Jack leaves to form a new tribe. One without rules.

Whilst some of the acting is noticeably bad (Hugh Edwards as Piggy sounds like he’s reading from a script) and it hasn’t aged kindly, there’s something about the way Brook frames proceedings which makes you feel that you’re marooned with them in Puerto Rico. His use of camera places you at the heart of the drama. There’s a real feral feel to it. Lord of the Flies is a classic of British literature and the film version does the book justice.

Special Edition Features:

  • New, restored digital transfer (box set edition); new, restored 4K digital film transfer, supervised by editor and cameraman Gerald Feil, ASC (two-DVD and Blu-ray editions), with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring director Peter Brook, producer Lewis Allen, director of photography Tom Hollyman, and Feil
  • Audio recordings of William Golding reading from his novel Lord of the Flies, accompanied by the corresponding scenes from the film
  • Deleted scene, with optional commentary and Golding reading
  • Interview with Brook from 2008 (two-DVD and Blu-ray only)
  • Collection of behind-the-scenes material, including home movies, screen tests, outtakes, and stills
  • Excerpt from a 1980 episode of The South Bank Show featuring Golding (two-DVD and Blu-ray only)
  • New interview with Feil (two-DVD and Blu-ray only)
  • Excerpt from Feil’s 1973 documentary The Empty Space, showcasing Brook’s theater methods
  • Living “Lord of the Flies,” a piece composed of never-before-seen footage shot by the boy actors during production, with new voice-over by actor Tom Gaman
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by film critic Geoffrey Macnab (two-DVD and Blu-ray only) and an excerpt from Brook’s autobiography The Shifting Point

Lord of the Flies is released on Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as part of the Criterion Collection on Monday 28 August.

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