Lord of the Flies (1990 film)

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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
Written by Screenplay:
Sarah Schiff
Based on Lord of the Flies 
by William Golding
The Rite of Spring 
by Igor Stravinsky
Starring Balthazar Getty
Chris Furrh
Danuel Pipoly
James Badge Dale
Andrew Taft
Edward Taft
Music by Philippe Sarde
Cinematography Martin Fuhrer
Edited by Harry Hook
Distributed by Columbia Pictures (original)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (current)
Release dates
March 16, 1990 (1990-03-16)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $13,985,225[1]

Lord of the Flies is a 1990 American survival film adapted from the classic novel Lord of the Flies written by William Golding. It is the second film adaptation of the book, after Lord of the Flies (1963).


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. Among the survivors is the pilot, Captain Benson (Michael Greene), the only other survivor, who is seriously injured and delirious. During the night, Simon (James Badge Dale), 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, whose real name is never revealed, nicknamed “Piggy” (Danuel Pipoly), 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 (Balthazar Getty), organizes a meeting to discuss surviving their predicament. Ralph and Jack (Chris Furrh) emerge dominant, with Ralph's seniority in rank making him the one in charge. 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 Capt. 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 plane from noticing them. Ralph blames Jack and 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 Capt. 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 Capt. 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 his glow stick 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 light 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 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 they jeer him, 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 returns in the night, and is warned by Sam and Eric 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 so they can kill him. Just barely dodging the spreading fire and Jack's hunters, Ralph makes a desperate run to the sea, where he encounters a U.S. Marine Corps officer (Bob Peck) who has just landed on the island with other Marines to rescue the boys, and as he looks on with shame of how feral and savage the boys have become as Ralph cries. He later arrives with more military recruits to rescue the 22 boys, much to Jack's horror.


Critical reception[edit]

The film has a rating of 61% or "Fresh" on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes.[2]

Some cited 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."[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]


  1. ^ Lord of the Flies. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  2. ^ "Lord of the Flies on Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (1990-03-16). "Lord Of The Flies: Roger Ebert Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  4. ^ Macek III, J.C. (28 April 2015). "'Lord of the Flies' Is an Inferior Take on William Golding's Classic Novel". PopMatters. 
  5. ^ Maxwell, Barrie (2001-11-20). "DVD Verdict Review — Lord Of The Flies (1990)". Retrieved 2008-04-01. 

External links[edit]