How is the movie Lord Of The Flies different from the book, especially the common differences? What are the parts of the movie that are done well and the parts that are done badly? Overall,...

How is the movie Lord Of The Flies different from the book, especially the common differences? What are the parts of the movie that are done well and the parts that are done badly? Overall, please describe the movie as compared to the book.

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durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Lord of the Flies by William Golding was first adapted into a movie in 1963 and again in 1990. The movie was moderately successful but has not enjoyed the same classic status as the novel. The first notable difference between the book and the 1990 movie is that in the novel the boys are English schoolboys whereas in the movie they are Americans. Furthermore, Ralph appears to have a broken arm in the movie.   

The novel opens with a vision of the scar "smashed into the jungle" giving a real sense of its destruction against Ralph's features and the beauty that surrounds him. This sets the tone for the book, foreshadowing the hopelessness of the boys despite the best efforts of Ralph, Piggy and Simon. The movie does not place the same emphasis on the unforgiving landscape, but reveals an endlessly beautiful, if not eerie, setting with an adult survivor, the captain, seriously injured and unconscious, and quite a contrast to the book's island with absolutely no "grown ups."

In the novel, the boys are not traveling as one group and the only "group" is the choir, of which Jack is "chapter chorister." In the movie, the boys are all military cadets and, unlike the book where Ralph is voted in as chief based on his demeanor and the fact that he blows the conch, in the movie it is his cadet rank being higher than Jack's that decides his position as leader, which Jack, in contrast to the book, graciously agrees to. In the book, Ralph's having blown the conch first makes him "set apart," and this creates a clear association between the order that Ralph represents and the power of the conch. As Jack has little respect for the conch and it loses its power as the novel progresses, so Ralph loses his ability to keep order. There is less emphasis on this in the movie and the conch plays a far less significant role. Ralph's dependence on Piggy's intellect is also downplayed in the movie.

In the book, the relationship between Jack and Piggy is always tenuous and it is Jack who notices Piggy's glasses and suggests using them to start the signal fire. In the movie, Ralph has the idea, not Jack, and takes Piggy's glasses and so, although there is tension between Jack and Piggy, the significance of the glasses is not as strong at this point.   

Another sharp contrast is in the identification of the beast and the developments surrounding it. In the movie, the boys start to feel uneasy while sitting around the fire as Jack tells a scary story of a "thing," but in the book the beast progresses from a "beastie," a snake-like thing in the imaginations of the littleuns. The captain does not feature in the book at all but in the movie he almost becomes the personification of the beast after running away, disoriented. A littlun now part of Jack's tribe mistakes him for the beast in a cave and stabs him with a hand-crafted sharp stick, whereas in the book the beast becomes tangible when, on glimpsing the dead man caught on some branches of a tree by his parachute, the boys finally conceptualize it and Ralph says it "had teeth...and big, black eyes." Simon's dreams and visions in the book are far more intense, less physical and more spiritual than portrayed in the movie.

In the movie, a helicopter flies low and close to the island but in the book, it is a ship that passes. The fire has gone out and so the boys' presence goes unnoticed. There are various other occurrences that shift the emphasis although the essence remains the same. 

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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There are slight differences in the book and movie. Whenever there is a movie made out of a book, there are always some kind of difference. The ones that are in The Lord of the Flies are noticeable if you have read the book.

Here are the differences between the book and the 1990 movie version.

In the book:

  • The pilot is found by the boys in the cave and is believed to be the beast.
  • The boys fail to keep the signal fire going and a ship passes and they don't get rescued.
  • The conch shell is shattered when Piggy is killed.
  • Jack attempts a re-vote, but it doesn't happen so he leaves to start his own group.
  • No adults are with the boys when they crash.
  • Piggy refers to his aunt a number of times.
  • The boys were evacuated during wartime and are members of a choir.
  • Sam and Eric are captured by Jack and his hunters.
  • Simon loses his mind when he sees the severed pig's head. It starts talking to him and he declares it is the Lord of the Flies.
  • Ralph often insults Piggy.
  • The boys are British.
  • British Naval officer talks to Ralph, who tells him about the murder of Simon and Piggy.
  • Fires attract the attention of a British war ship.

 In the 1990 movie:

  • The pilot is is with the boys and is delusional. He goes off and ends up in the cave and dies. The boys find him there.
  • A plane passes over, but since the fire is out they are not rescued.
  • The conch shell is not show being destroyed.
  • There is no revolt and Jack just goes off on his own.
  • The pilot is with the boys.
  • Piggy refers to his grandmother and only just a few times.
  • The boys are from a military academy and are on the way home.
  • Sam and Eric choose to join Jack.
  • Simon only stares at the head while the sound of the buzzing flies gets louder.
  • Ralph rarely insults Piggy.
  • The boys are Americans.
  • Ralph doesn't say anything to the US Marine.
  • US Marines come to the island in the end.

All of the differences were handled well in the movie. The changes fit the film's time period and had relevance in today's time and culture but stayed mainly true to the book.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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The movie The Lord of the Flies and the book The Lord of the Flies have some differences but mostly the movies stay true to the book.  Two movie versions have been produced from Golding's book. 

One movie came out in 1963 and another version was released in 1990.  In the movies the primary three characters are Ralph, Jack, and Piggy.  One difference is that in the book there is more focus on Simon's role as a Christ like figure. 

Jack in the book is a hunter and calls his group the hunters.  In one movie there is a difference because he refers to his group as the tribe and himself as the leader of the tribe

In the book the only survivors are the boys but in one movie there is the difference that a pilot survives and remains in a state of uselessness due to high fevers and illness. 

The last significant difference is in the era of the event of the boy’s crash.  In the book the situation takes place after some type of cataclysmic event in the unidentified past, presumably World War II, but, in the movie, the situation has occurred in a modern, post world-war era because a boy talks about the show "Alf."

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