Lord of the Flies is a 1963 film based on the 1954 novel of the same name by William Golding about a group of English school boys who are stranded on a desert island after a nuclear war breaks out. The film, directed by Peter Brook, was seen by millions of Baby Boomers in high school English classes who would then practice “duck and cover” drills in case of a very real nuclear war — ritualistically rehearsing their own impending deaths.
early 1980s edition.
One important image in the film is the bonfire; it represents the boys' desire to return to civilization. As events unfold, and the boys descend into anarchy, the fire becomes unattended and goes out and the chance for rescue by a passing ship is missed. The lesson is clear — as we give into our baser instincts, civilization slips further and further away.
|Stoking the fire in the 1963 film.|
The lessons from the novel and the excellent film are as relevant today as they were in 1954 or 1963 — if not even more so. America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia are all in the throes of violently bitter partisan politics. Many nations are seeing nationalist political movements rising up that threaten the advancement of civilization, and limit or turn back progress on societal and scientific development. The fire of civilization is going out all over the world, and fewer and fewer people think it is worth keeping lit.
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