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DVD SHOPPING BAG: Criterion Collection Lord of the Flies

A dated classic

By Robert T. Trate     August 13, 2013
Source: Mania.com

The first time I had ever heard of Lord of the Flies was when the trailer appeared on TV. Obviously, this was for the 1990 film version of the story. The premise fascinated me at the age of 15. Could I survive on a deserted island with my classmates? The deserted island scenario is always a fun one to think about. I’m sure that was the initial appeal of ABC’s LOST. I discovered the original film one night while walking the aisles at a video store. The 1963 version is haunting with his documentary-like feel and Raymond Leppard’s chilling music. Criterion Collection released their edition for the first time on Blu-ray and Mania couldn't turn down the chance to revisit Ralph, Jack, Piggy, and Simon. 

The story of Lord of the Flies is based on the novel “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. The audience begins with a world at war. A plane crashes and the survivors find themselves on a deserted island. All the castaways are young boys. Whether or not they are from a military or private school is not divulged in the film. One boy, Ralph (James Aubrey), is elected Chief. With his right hand man, Piggy (Hugh Edwards), who is also his conscience and voice of reason, the boys organize and prepare for rescue. However, these are mere children and, as the days progress and their fears start to surface, things get out of hand. The Captain of Hunters, Jack (Tom Chapin), wants to be Chief and organizes a revolt. This coup is not done with violence but a good time. Hunting is what sways many to Jack’s side. After all, who wants to sit by and keep the signal fire going? There is the hunt and the parallels to mankind’s true nature are obvious through and through, here. 

For the first time, I felt as if this film was really dated. The black white film stock didn’t date it, it was the children themselves. When Jack arrives, with his lieutenants, they are a chorus marching and signing, a fine close group who undoubtably had some education. Piggy and Ralph are damn quick to set up a system of laws and rules for all to follow. Again, this means they are educated. It is when the “Monster” part of the story surfaces that I have to cry foul. 

Jack and Ralph believe there to be a monster on the island. They discover its whereabouts and Jack offers up the head of their most recent kill as a sacrifice. The “Monster” turns out to be a pilot, in his full flight suit, possibly from their downed airplane. There is nothing horrific or terrifying about this pilot. He’s not decomposed, nor has he been torn apart by an actual creature on the island. It’s just a guy in a flight suit wearing a helmet, a figure completely recognizable by any child who had gotten on an airplane or was paying attention to the space race circa 1963. 

The “Monster” is a metaphor and a tool used by Jack to instigate an insurrection. Tom Chapin’s performance doesn’t indicate that he is exploiting the boys fears for his own gain. In fact, he believes that the monster is very real. So much so that this fear leads to the accidental death of one of the children. 

Much has been written about the loss of innocence pertaining to Lord of the Flies. Mix that with the powerful animalistic instincts that arise when man has no rules, rhyme or reason. That part of the story still holds its power over the audience. However, now, in our modern world where children are known to be smarter than what they are given credit for, it is hard to believe that one simple image would lead to mass hysteria. Perhaps Lord of the Flies has become dated. 

This re-release of Lord of the Flies (Spine #43)  has been restored with a digital transfer for the box set edition.  The two-DVD and Blu-ray editions are also restored 4K digital film transfers, that were supervised by editor and cameraman, Gerald Feil. Plus, they used an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. The picture quality is astounding. That documentary feel is never more prevalent as it is with this edition. It looks as if this film is now an actual piece of history forever captured on film. Not bad for a low budget film celebrating its 50th anniversary. Kent Williams’ new cover for the film captures a better feel for the microcosm that the boys created (see below). It’s a step up from Criterion’s original photoshop cover on the 2000 edition (seen here).

The special features are on par with the normal Criterion releases. There is only one deleted scene present, but tons of behind the scenes (color) footage, as well. There are even experts from the short film the boys made while they spent the summer in Puerto Rico making the Lord of the Flies. This behind the scenes footage is complete with passages from the boys’ diaries and (best of all) a short piece by “Simon” (Tom Gaman) about what happened to his life after the film was released. Again, Criterion doesn’t just deliver an incredible film and transfer, but the complete history and experience of a film. They are the best at delivering the type of Blu-rays and DVDs true film aficionados want. 

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The Company You Keep Starring Robert Redford, Brit Marling, Stanley Tucci and Nick Nolte

Compulsion Starring Heather Graham, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Mantegna

Damned [Blu-ray] Starring Marcel Dalio, Henri Vidal, Florence Marly

The Guillotines [Blu-ray] Starring Zhang Wen, Xiaoming Huang, Shawn Yue and Yuchun Li

The Hot Spot / Killing Me Softly [Blu-ray] Starring Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Connelly

The Odd Angry Shot [Blu-ray] Starring Bryan Brown, John Hargreaves, Graham Kennedy

Olympus Has Fallen (Two Disc Combo: Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhardt and Morgan Freeman

Olympus Has Fallen (+UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Aaron Eckhardt and Morgan Freeman

Presidio [Blu-ray] Starring Sean Connery, Mark Harmon, Meg Ryan and Jack Warden

The Return of Joe Rich Starring Sam Witwer, Armand Assante and Talia Shire

Shaft [Blu-ray] Starring Samuel L. Jackson

ANIME

Dragon Ball Z: Rock the Dragon Collector's Edition

Eureka Seven: AO- Part 1 [Blu-ray] Starring Micah Solusod, Lindsay Seidel and Sainty Reid

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Future Diary: Part One Starring Josh Grelle, Kent Williams and Leah Clark

Haganai: I Don't Have Many Friends (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai) (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Starring Jerry Jewell, Whitney Rogers, Jad Saxton and Kanae Ito

Shining Hearts Complete Collection [Blu-ray] Starring Mai Aizawa, Hiroko Emori, Ryô Hirohashi and Yui Horie

CLASSICS

Emperor's Nightingale (1949) Starring Boris Karloff

Shane [Blu-ray] Starring Alan Ladd, Jack Palance, Jean Arthur and Van Heflin

COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style

The Muppet Movie: The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition Starring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson and Richard Hunt

The Muppet Movie: The Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray + Digital Copy) Starring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson and Richard Hunt

Criterion Collection

Seconds (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] Starring Rock Hudson, Salome Jens, John Randolph and Will Geer

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HORROR

Dolls of Voodoo Starring Kenya Moore, Obba Babatunde and Miguel Nunez Jr

Errors of the Human Body Starring Michael Eklund and Karoline Herfurth

Hatchet III: Unrated Director's Cut [Blu-ray] Starring Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder and Zach Galligan

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The House Of Seven Corpses (Blu-ray + DVD Combo) Starring John Ireland, Faith Domergue and John Carradine

Ultra Q: The Complete Series Starring Kenji Sahara and Yasuhiko Saijo

A Werewolf Boy Starring Bo-yeong Park and Joong-ki Song

MODERN CLASSICS on BLU-RAY

Flashdance [Blu-ray] Starring Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Lilia Skala

Good Luck Miss Wyckoff (Blu-ray + DVD Combo) Starring Anne Heywood, Donald Pleasence, Robert Vaughn

SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY

Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space (Story 51) Blu-ray Edition Starring Jon Pertwee, Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John

Doctor Who: The Green Death (Story 69) Special Edition Starring Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Nicholas Courtney

Super Storm Starring David Sutcliffe, Erica Cerra, Brett Dier and Leah Cairns

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Super Eruption Starring Richard Burgi, Juliet Aubrey, MyAnna Buring

TV LAND

Combat!: The Complete Fifth Season Starring Vic Morrow, Rick Jason, Pierre Jalbert and Jack Hogan

Enlightened: The Complete Second Season

Family Ties: The Seventh Season Starring Michael Gross, Michael J. Fox, Meredith Baxter

Girls: The Complete Second Season

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Once Upon A Time: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] Starring Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla

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Perry Mason: The Ninth and Final Season, Vol. 2

Southland: The Complete Fifth & Final Season Starring Michael Cudlitz, Shawn Hatosy, Regina King and Ben McKenzie

BOX SETS

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COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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ultrazilla2000 8/14/2013 12:00:52 AM

I'm really excited to be finally getting an English subtitled version of Ultra Q here in the States!  The show that gave birth to the Ultraman series the following year...it's a great mix of Outer Limits, X Files, and Godzilla type genres all rolled into one. 

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