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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Comments on the conflict raging within and without humanity between democratic impulses versus the will to power. Left to fend for themselves on an island, a group of boys revert to seemingly innate tribal and brutish behavior.
Positive Role Models
Ralph tries to keep himself and the boys around him rooted in civility and their understanding of the democratic ideal and how it applies to their current reality, but even he slips into cruel tween behavior when he betrays the boy who comes to be known by everyone as "Piggy."
Violence & Scariness
A boy is killed by a group of other boys who in the darkness mistake him for the monster they've lived in constant fear of confronting since crash-landing on the island. A boy is mercilessly bullied, verbally and physically; his glasses are continually being ripped off his face so the other boys can use them to start a fire. Another boy is flogged with makeshift wooden switches on his bare behind while other boys viciously laugh at him.
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Sporadic use of "damn." British slang such as "arse" and "bollocks."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lord of the Flies is the classic 1963 film adaptation of the classic novel in which a group of tween boys descend into primitive brutality while stranded on an island. It's an unsettling comment on the animal nature lurking within and without humanity that is (mostly) held in check by civilized society; the choice of tween boys as the archetypes for this allegory is as perfect and obvious as it gets. Much of the violence is strongly implied if not shown -- the boys' getting shot down in the plane is told via a series of photographs and sound effects of a boys' choir and machine gun fire, for instance. However, there's still plenty of violence, much of it unsettling. One of the boys is bullied mercilessly: he's first verbally bullied when he confides in the one boy who is his friend that he had the nickname "Piggy" at his old school. This friend betrays him to the others, who immediately call him "Piggy" at every opportunity. The verbal bullying of "Piggy" inevitably turns physical as the boys remain on the island: his glasses are swiped from him to start the bonfire, and as they descend deeper and deeper into tribal groupthink, "Piggy" suffers a terrible fate. Another boy is brutally murdered by boys armed with wooded spears -- no blood or gore, but scary enough for younger and more sensitive viewers. Another boy is shown getting flogged on his bare behind while other boys maliciously laugh at him. This movie should provoke discussion among families about human nature and how "groupthink" and "mob rule" can exist in places and situations far removed from what's shown in this movie. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The movie has some very scary moments, and the overall theme may be particularly troubling for some kids. But it's more kid-friendly than the 1990 remake, which updates the story with a contemporary setting and changes the boys' nationality to American. Dark and sometimes gory, Lord of the Flies has some power, but it's not as good as this 1963 original. Teenagers should read the source book by Nobel Prize winner Golding.
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