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Lord of the Flies(1963)
After their plane crashes on an isolated island, a group of grade-school boys revert to savagery despite the attempts of a few to prevent it. (A film adaptation of William Golding's novel.)
For more about Lord of the Flies and the Lord of the Flies Blu-ray release, see Lord of the Flies Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on July 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Peter Brook
Writers: Peter Brook, William Golding
Starring: Nicholas Hammond, James Aubrey, Hugh Edwards, Roger Elwin, Tom Gaman, David Surtees
» See full cast & crew
Lord of the Flies Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, July 10, 2013
Peter Brook's "Lord of the Flies" (1963) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include an original trailer for the film; three short featurettes; deleted scene; video interview with Peter Brook; audio commentary with Peter Brook, producer Lewis Allen, director of photography Tom Hollyman, and cameraman and editor Gerald Feil; excerpt from an episode of the British television series The South Bank Show; and a lot more. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film critic Geoffrey Macnab and an excerpt from Peter Brook's book The Shifting Point. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
A large group of children is evacuated from England shortly after the beginning of the next world war. (One is led to believe that the next war was probably a nuclear war). The plane carrying the children crashes close to an exotic island.
There are survivors. The first two that emerge are Ralph (James Aubrey) and Piggy (Hugh Edwards). Ralph is a tall, energetic and intelligent boy. Piggy is overweight and wearing big glasses. Back home the boys would have never been friends, but with no one else around they slowly warm up to each other.
Soon after, Ralph and Piggy are joined by more survivors. They are all kids but from different social backgrounds. At first they enjoy their freedom and run around the island, joking and playing with each other. Eventually, they realize that they are alone in a foreign world. The boys then gather and pick Ralph to be their leader. They also use Piggy's glasses to start a fire, hoping that a passing ship or plane would see it. Then they build small shelters.
But not everyone is happy with Ralph's democratic style of leadership. Jack (Tom Chapin), who has a knife, does not like his rules. Together with a few "hunters", he kills a pig, and after everyone has a piece of it he forms a new group. The boys then discover a "beast" hiding somewhere up in the hills above their shelters and making funny noises.
At this point Ralph and Jack can barely stand each other. Piggy decides to step up and confronts Jack when his "hunters" fail to keep the fire going, but immediately gets his glasses broken. The incident convinces everyone that Jack should have been picked to be the leader. All of the boys from Ralph's group then move to Jack's group. Soon after, together with his "hunters" Jack kills Piggy, Ralph's last follower.
During the years some critics have argued that this film is as effective as the best-selling novel by William Golding that inspired it, but this isn't true. The book tells a story that is far richer and a lot darker. The book also creates and sustains an atmosphere that is simply missing in the film.
Director Peter Brook shot Lord of the Flies with a very small budget using non-professional actors. Most of the time it shows. Some of the boys are overly enthusiastic and during key sequences the rhythm of the story becomes somewhat problematic. Simon, one of the most important characters in the book, is also transformed into a quiet loner whose relationship with the "beast" is seriously shortened and downplayed.
The message of Golding's novel, however, isn't lost, which is that pure evil is quite possibly part of human nature. As Jack becomes more influential amongst the boys, order is replaced with anarchy that brings out the worst in them. While watching these boys become monsters, it is impossible not to think about the atrocities committed by adults in different parts of our supposedly civilized world.
The majority of the film has a raw, near documentary look. But there are also beautiful close-ups of the boys' faces. The best close-ups are the ones where the boys look straight into the camera and remain silent. Interestingly enough, Lord of the Flies was apparently the one and only film Tom Hollyman lensed.
Note: In 1963, Lord of the Flies was nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Lord of the Flies Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Peter Brook's Lord of the Flies arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"Supervised by cameraman and editor Gerald Feil, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from a 35mm composite fine grain and a 35mm duplicate negative; the restoration was then performed in 2K resolution. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, and jitter were manually removed using using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise reduction, and flicker.
Transfer supervisors: Gerald Feil, Lee Kline.
Colorist: Lee Kline/Criterion, New York."
The film's transition to Blu-ray is quite impressive. It has received a new new 4K high-definition transfer which at this point allows it look as good as it can. Detail and clarity are outstanding. Many of the close-ups, in particular, reveal small details that were previously impossible to see on the old DVD release of the film. Perhaps the most impressive improvements, however, are present during the nighttime footage where the balance between the blacks, whites and variety of grays is indeed outstanding. Image depth here is substantially improved (see screencapture #12). Grain is evenly and beautifully resolved throughout the entire film (see screencapture #12). There are no problematic sharpening corrections. Overall image stability is also excellent. It is also very easy to tell that a large amount of debris, scratches, and specks have been removed as best as possible with current digital tools. Finally, there are no serious transfer-specific anomalies to report in this review. To sum it all up, this is a wonderful presentation of Lord of the Flies which is likely to remain the definitive presentation of the film for years to come. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Lord of the Flies Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
It is a well known fact that there are portions of the dialog that had to be dubbed because the filming conditions were not ideal, but with this new lossless track one would have an incredibly difficult time telling that such work was done in the past. Depth, clarity, and balance are indeed very good. Overall dynamic intensity remains somewhat limited, but the lossless track is clearly not to be blamed. Also, there are no problematic audio dropouts, background hiss, or distortions fo report in this review.
Lord of the Flies Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Lord of the Flies Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Peter Brook's film remains the best adaptation of William Golding's famous novel. But if you are unfamiliar with it, I strongly encourage you to read it first before seeing the film. In my opinion, the novel is substantially better and far more thought-provoking than the film. Using a new transfer from a 4K digital restoration, Criterion's Blu-ray release of Lord of the Flies is likely to remain the film's definitive home video release for years to come. RECOMMENDED.
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• Criterion Announces July Titles - April 15, 2013
The Criterion Collection has announced five titles for Blu-ray release in July. On July 9th, the studio will release Kenji Mizoguchi's The Life of Oharu. On July 16th, it will release Peter Brook's Lord of the Flies. On July 23rd, it will release Gabriel Axel's ...
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