all female lord of the flies remake

In a fundamental misunderstanding of the message of Lord of the Flies, Warner Bros. is moving ahead with an all-female remake of the literary classic — written by two men.

Gender-bent remakes are not uncommon in Hollywood, allowing filmmakers to re-examine stories from a female perspective and give meatier roles to women in an industry where there are very few. But not all stories are suited to be gender-swapped: case in point William Golding‘s novel about the barbarism stemming from systemic toxic masculinity.

Duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel have struck a deal with Warner Bros. to write and direct an all female Lord of the Flies remake, according to Deadline. Siegel told Deadline the two planned to create a “faithful but contemporized adaptation” of Golding’s book, saying:

“It is a timeless story that is especially relevant today, with the interpersonal conflicts and bullying, and the idea of children forming a society and replicating the behavior they saw in grownups before they were marooned.”

McGehee added that by telling the story with girls instead of boys, “it shifts things in a way that might help people see the story anew,” continuing:

“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.”

Siegel and McGehee are the duo behind What Maisie Knew and Bee Season, two contemporary female-centric films that explore young girls coming of age. However, both of those films were written by female screenwriters and may not be a great indicator of whether Siegel and McGehee can give a nuanced approach to a female-centric Lord of the Flies.

But all this asks a bigger question: is a female-centric Lord of the Flies possible at the hands of a female filmmaker? Or is the story too ingrained in its depiction of toxic masculinity?

Violence and Masculinity in Golding’s Lord of the Flies

Despite Twitter’s tendency toward knee-jerk reactions to news, there were some well-worded criticisms of the Siegel and McGehee-helmed Lord of the Flies.

While Golding set out to make his book about the brutality inherent in men when divorced from civilization and not just a commentary on gender, it’s hard to separate the story from what it does say about toxic masculinity in a modern context — and from the context from which it was written in the 1950s. Cultural questions of what modern masculinity entails — rugged individualism or intellectualism — were fully realized in Lord of the Flies, and the tension between the two concepts continues today.

To tell that story from a female perspective would require a complete rehaul of the story, and not one that just reduces the characters into feminine, backstabbing stereotypes. I do think that some of the criticisms lobbied against this news — that women wouldn’t clash at all or would spend time only “apologizing” to each other — are unfounded. Women in conflict do exist, and complex depictions of these women could take place. But in a Lord of the Flies remake penned by two men, I doubt it would exist in this movie.

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