Lord of the Flies (1990 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the novel, see Lord of the Flies. For the 1963 film, see Lord of the Flies (1963 film). For other uses, see Lord of the Flies (disambiguation).
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies (1990 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harry Hook
Produced by Lewis M. Allen
Screenplay by Sarah Schiff
Based on
Music by Philippe Sarde
Cinematography Martin Fuhrer
Edited by Harry Hook
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • March 16, 1990 (1990-03-16)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $14 million[2]

Lord of the Flies is a 1990 American survival Drama film directed by Harry Hook and starring Balthazar Getty, Chris Furrh, Danuel Pipoly and James Badge Dale. It was produced by Lewis M. Allen and written by Sarah Schiff and is based on the 1954 book, Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It is the second film adaptation of the book, after Lord of the Flies (1963).

The film differs in many ways from both its predecessor film and the novel. Lord of the Flies centers on Ralph mainly, as the children try to initiate a society after crash-landing on an uncharted island, but things go awry.

The film was released on March 16, 1990 by Columbia Pictures, with film rights now belonging to Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. Upon and since its release, the film has received mixed reviews, generally more negative than its 1963 counterpart. Most critics praise the film's scenery but center upon the film's deviations from the novel as a central flaw. However, the movie garnered $14 million from the box office, and has acquired a cult following.


An aircraft carrying 24 young military school cadets returning home crash lands into the sea near a remote, uninhabited, jungle island in the Pacific Ocean. Captain Benson (Michael Greene), the only adult survivor, is seriously injured and delirious. All of the survivors arrive on the island. During the night, Simon, the most independent cadet, finds a river and notifies the other boys, to which they all drink out of it and explore the island afterwards. Meanwhile, on the beach, an overweight cadet nicknamed "Piggy" (whose real name is never revealed during the story) finds a conch seashell and takes it to the grouped cadets, who adopt it to signal the right to speak and be heard by the group. The senior cadet, and one of the elder boys, Cadet Colonel Ralph, organizes a meeting to discuss surviving their predicament. Ralph and another of the older boys, Jack, emerge dominant, and an impromptu election is held to determine an official leader for the group. Ralph is declared the winner. They start a fire using Piggy's glasses to try and alert any passing craft. Tensions begin to grow between Ralph and Jack.

One night, as they sleep, the delusional Captain Benson escapes from them into the jungle, eventually making his way to a cave deep inland. Jack brings all of his hunters to hunt in the jungle, leaving no one watching the fire. The fire goes out, preventing a passing helicopter from noticing them. Ralph blames Jack for failing to keep it going. Jack, tired of listening to Ralph and Piggy, leaves and forms his own camp, taking many of the boys with him. One of the younger boys, Larry, finds Captain Benson in the cave, mistakes him for a monster and stabs him, and then tells the other boys. Jack goes to the cave's entrance, and mistakes Captain Benson's dying groans for the sounds of a monster. Meanwhile, expecting to be rescued, Ralph's civilized leadership establishes a permanent signal-fire to alert passing ships of their presence on the island. Not expecting to be rescued, Jack's savage leadership adapts to circumstance; he establishes his camp as spear-bearing hunters who provide meat to both camps. They kill a Wild pig and leave its head as an offering to the "monster" that they believe is in the cave. Eventually, identical twins Sam and Eric (Andrew Taft and Edward Taft), two of Ralph's friends, leave him to join Jack's tribe, leaving Ralph with only Piggy and Simon left.

During the night, Jack and his savages steal a knife from Ralph so they can make more spears, but accidentally trample on Piggy's glasses in the process, breaking one lens.

One night, Simon finds the pig's head on the stick. He then uses a torch and explores the cave and discovers the corpse of Capt. Benson. Simon realizes Capt. Benson was what the boys thought was the monster, and runs to the beach in an attempt to alert the boys of his discovery. In the ensuing hysteria, Simon's waving of the torch frightens the other boys, who mistake him for the monster and stab him to death with their spears. The following morning, Ralph blames himself and Piggy for not stopping the hunters from killing Simon. Meanwhile, Jack tells his gang that the "monster" can come in any different form.

After Piggy's glasses are stolen by Jack's savages one night so they could make fire, Piggy and Ralph travel to Jack's camp, attempting to call a meeting using the conch. Piggy insists that everyone be sensible and work together, but Jack's savages refuse to listen. As Piggy speaks, Roger (Gary Rule), the cruel torturer in Jack's tribe, pushes a boulder off a cliff and smashes Piggy's head, killing him. A distraught Ralph swears that Jack will not get away with the murders, but Jack declares that Ralph is now on his own. Jack and his savages throw stones at Ralph to drive him away. Ralph secretly returns in the night to visit Sam and Eric, who warn Ralph that the hunters will chase after him.

The following morning, Jack and his hunters begin setting the jungle on fire to force Ralph out of hiding and kill him. Just barely dodging the spreading fire and Jack's hunters, Ralph makes a desperate run to the sea. He trips and falls onto the beach, where he encounters a U.S. Marine Corps officer pilot who has just landed on the island with other Marines to rescue the boys after having seen the fire that engulfed much of the island. As the pilot looks on with shame of how feral and savage the boys have become, Ralph bursts into tears, much to the shock of the confused Jack and his stunned followers.


  • Balthazar Getty as Ralph: the main protagonist and leader of the boys who work on getting rescued and trying to maintain order
  • Chris Furrh as Jack: the main antagonist and the leader of the hunters
  • Danuel Pipoly as Piggy: an intelligent and overweight boy, the object of ridicule, and the most loyal boy to Ralph
  • James Badge Dale as Simon: a rather reclusive boy (credited as Badgett Dale)
  • Andrew Taft as Sam: identical twin
  • Edward Taft as Eric: identical twin
  • Gary Rule as Roger: the secondary antagonist and the second-in-command to Jack
  • Michael Greene as Captain Benson
  • Bob Peck as U.S. Marine Corps Officer
  • Ethan Warwick as The Beastie


The film was released theatrically on March 16, 1990 in the United States by Columbia Pictures.

Critical reaction[edit]

Lord of the Flies received mixed reviews from critics, with most panning its liking towards the book itself, providing mixed assessments of the performances of the various actors, and praising its scenery. As of April 2016, the film has a rating of 63% "Fresh" on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes.[3]

Most heavily criticized was the way in which the filmmakers departed from the novel. For example, Richard Alleva of Crisis Magazine criticized the portrayal of the first assembly on the island, a crucial moment in the book, as "anti-climactic" in the film. He lamented the fact that the conversation that Simon imagines taking place between himself and the pig, or the "Lord of the Flies", yet another of the book's most pivotal moments, was in the movie reduced to only a few moments of Simon staring at the pig. Alleva also criticized what he saw as misrepresentations of Ralph and Jack, believing that the movie downplayed Ralph's imperfections as presented in the book and amplified those of Jack. He said that "In this film, the good boys are too good; the bad boys too quickly bad, and bad in the wrong way."[4]

Some have claimed that the novel in general is somewhat dated and unsuitable for a remake. Roger Ebert remarked in his review that "events take place every day on our mean streets that are more horrifying than anything the little monsters do to one another on Golding's island."[5]

PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III wrote "The lessons and allusions of the novel and first adaptation feel heavy-handed and far too obvious in this remake. In short, while the 1963 film, in its black and white darkness, brings the viewer into the film with depth and shock, the 1990 movie is the experience of watching actors reciting lines and making a movie.[6]

Barrie Maxwell of DVD Verdict commented that the color of the island creates a more superficial atmosphere than the stark black and white of the previous version.[7]

Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote the following in a 1990 review:

As directed by Harry Hook, the new "Lord of the Flies" offers much spectacle for the eye and almost nothing to keep the mind from wandering. Mr. Hook and the cinematographer Martin Fuhrer may be able to work orange flames, turquoise ocean and lush tropical foliage into a single pretty (if nonsensical) frame. But they can't get a toehold onto what Mr. Golding called his "attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature."[8]


  1. ^ "LORD OF THE FLIES (15)". British Board of Film Classification. May 30, 1990. Retrieved May 7, 2016. 
  2. ^ Lord of the Flies. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  3. ^ "Lord of the Flies on Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  4. ^ Alleva, Richard (May 1, 1990). "On Screen: A Lord for the Lite Generation". Crisis Magazine. Retrieved July 31, 2016. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (1990-03-16). "Lord Of The Flies: Roger Ebert Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  6. ^ Macek III, J.C. (28 April 2015). "'Lord of the Flies' Is an Inferior Take on William Golding's Classic Novel". PopMatters. 
  7. ^ Maxwell, Barrie (2001-11-20). "DVD Verdict Review — Lord Of The Flies (1990)". Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  8. ^ Maslin, Janet (March 16, 1990). "Review/Film; Another Incarnation For 'Lord Of the Flies'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2016. 

External links[edit]