It is very likely that you have read Lord of the Flies and/or watched one of the three film adaptations that have been made about it. Anyway, let’s do a little recap of the story so we’re all on the same page.
The book was written by Nobel Prize-winning British author William Golding and first published in 1954. Although it wasn’t very popular at the time, it later became a best seller and it is now a classic. It tells the story of a group of young boys marooned in an inhabited and paradisiacal island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean after the plane where they were traveling crashes. The efforts from some of the boys to create a harmonious society that eventually turns into chaos, as anarchy and savagery set it. The book portrays how well educated boys regress to a primitive behavioural state the longer they are far from civilization, adults or anyone to govern them, showing the author’s view on male violent nature and the loss of innocence.
It was recently announced that Warner Bros will make a new film adaptation of this book almost thirty years after the last one in 1990 by Harry Hook (he later became a TV director), which received polarized criticism. Scott McGehee and David Siegel, who have worked together on movies like What Maisie Knew (2012) and Bee Season (2005), will be in charge of writing and directing this film. The big twist is that for the upcoming film we should expect an all female cast, which for obvious and substantial reasons already seems like a bad idea. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against films with female characters, I consider myself a feminist (when feminism is understood as the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes), and I also believe that Hollywood and the Film Industry in general need more diversity when it comes to gender, sexuality and race; but this diversity should come with a purpose and a meaning, otherwise it’s futile and can even be counterproductive.
We have already seen some of these gender-flipped remakes that bring a female perspective to classic films that were originally starred by men like Ghostbusters last year, which despite all the buzz around it was not very successful, and not because this time the quartet of ghost hunters was portrayed by women, but because the screenplay was poorly written. Next year will also bring the remake of Ocean’s Eleven with an all female cast (hopefully will not disappoint). But the difference between these two mentioned films and a Lord of the Flies with stranded girls on an island instead of boys is that the gender swap in the latter is absurd. McGehee stated that Lord of the Flies “is aggressively suspenseful, and taking the opportunity to tell it in a way it hasn’t been told before, with girls rather than boys, is that it shifts things in a way that might help people see the story anew. It breaks away from some of the conventions, the ways we think of boys and aggression. People still talk about the movie and the book from the standpoint of pure storytelling.” This all girl adaptation would make sense if maybe the story was only inspired by Lord of the Flies in a way we would get to see how girls would behave if they found themselves in the same or a similar situation, but not as “a very faithful but contemporized adaptation” which Siegel stated that he and McGehee are pursuing. To begin with, young boys behave differently to young girls, which is scientifically proven, and solely because of that the whole concept of the book would be completely neglected and the plot of the movie would be unrealistic. Also, what is there to contemporize about an inhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Will the girls bring some solar panels to recharge their useless smartphones? Another red flag is that these two grown men will write the adaptation from a prepubescent girls psyche point of view; something that is pretty safe to assume it’s a phase they never went through and have no experience with.
We are tired of unnecessary remakes, adaptations and sequels. Aren’t there any original stories to tell with memorable and engaging female characters that could convey the same message without turning this classic story into something that is already turning up to be a disaster? Hopefully they will have female consultants for the screenplay and the film would be a pleasant surprise.