A planned film adaptation of “Lord of the Flies,” the 1954 novel that examined the inherent evil of humanity through an island of boys without adult supervision, will have a provocative twist: This time, the island will be full of girls.
The concept alone invited immediate scrutiny on social media. But skepticism was inflamed by a fairly common Hollywood story: The film about girls will be written and directed by two men, Scott McGehee and David Siegel.
Using girls “might help people see the story anew,” McGehee said.
“It breaks away from some of the conventions, the ways we think of boys and aggression,” he said. “People still talk about the movie and the book from the standpoint of pure storytelling. It is a great adventure story, real entertainment, but it has a lot of meaning embedded in it as well.”
Theirs would be at least the third adaptation of “Lord of the Flies,” after a 1963 version and another one in 1990. Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the book — spoiler alert — things go badly for the preteen boys, classmates from an English boarding school who become stranded on an island without adults. They first try to work together to survive, but their new society quickly unravels as distrust and violence set in. A favorite of high school English classes, the story has for decades been seen as a cautionary look at how members of mankind can treat one another poorly.
But is it about mankind or about men? Flipping the gender dynamics would lead to an entirely different story, several people argued on Twitter.
In an undated interview, the author of the book, William Golding, who died in 1993, said he was often asked why he wrote about boys instead of girls. He said that it was partly because he grew up as one, but that gender was also crucial to the larger point of the novel:
“If you land with a group of little boys, they are more like scaled-down society than a group of little girls would be. Don’t ask me why, and this is a terrible thing to say, because I’m going to be chased from hell to breakfast by all the women who talk about equality. This has nothing to do with equality at all. I mean, I think women are foolish to pretend they’re equal to men — they’re far superior and always have been. But one thing you cannot do with them is take a bunch of them and boil them down, so to speak, into a set of little girls who would then become a kind of image of civilization, of society.”