The original version of Lord of the Flies is a classic bit of weirdness and a deep look at the savage still lurking within all of us.
The 10 Best Movies About Becoming a Man
By Nick Schager on July 11, 2014
Richard Linklater's Boyhood.
Shot over twelve years in order to capture its headlining newcomer Ellar Coltrane's literal aging from a precocious 6-year-old kid to a lanky 18-year-old teen, the exceptional Boyhood, in theaters today, takes a unique approach to the coming-of-age saga. But despite the clever gimmick, it follows in a long line of films concerned with male maturation, a process that can be at once funny and awkward, tumultuous and traumatic, depressing and euphoric. Whether somber or comic (or both), these stories plumb adolescent and young-adult experiences in order to locate the ways in which we confront early challenges, encounters, and triumphs, and then use those incidents as stepping stones on the path to adulthood. In honor of Boyhood, we present ten great movies about becoming a man.
Stand by Me (1986)
A truly great American coming-of-age film, this gem directed by Rob Reiner (based on Stephen King's short story "The Body") tracks four friends as they embark on an odyssey to find the corpse of a missing friend. It's an alternately joyous and haunting tale, and one marked by its mature, unsettling snapshot of kids coming face-to-face, for the first time, with their own mortality.
The 400 Blows (1959)
François Truffaut's debut remains the genre's standard-bearer, depicting the adolescent bumps and bruises suffered by young schoolboy Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) with piercing empathy and acute attention to detail. Though Truffaut and Léaud would revisit the character four subsequent times, The 400 Blows' legendary final close-up speaks silent volumes about Doinel's transition from naïve boy to young man.
Say Anything... (1989)
The definitive '80s romantic comedy as well as a sly coming-of-age tale, Cameron Crowe's Say Anything... is rooted in the amorous quest — and concurrent, hard-won maturation — of John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler, the endearingly funny, sensitive high-school guy no one could resist.
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Steven Spielberg's period drama focuses on the ordeal of a young British boy (Christian Bale) living in Shanghai who, during WWII, finds himself a prisoner of war after the city is occupied by the Japanese, and is separated from his parents and forced to contend with the horrors of war. It's one of Spielberg's most quietly evocative depictions of childhood's end.
Lord of the Flies (1963)
Peter Brook's adaptation of William Golding's famous 1954 novel concerns the harsh lessons learned by a group of British schoolchildren stranded on a remote island. Left to fend for themselves, their efforts to survive — and establish some sort of law and order in the process — result in an unforgettable allegory about the alternately kind and cruel nature of both boys and men.
Hope and Glory (1987)
Like Spielberg's Empire of the Sun (released the same year), John Boorman's Hope and Glory charts the difficult childhood of a young boy during wartime — in this case, a ten-year-old named Bill (Sebastian Rice-Edwards), whose turbulent attempts to make sense of the world while London is wracked by the Blitz during WWII is based on director Boorman's own harrowing experiences.
Stranded in the Australian outback after their father loses his mind and kills himself, a young brother and sister are compelled to survive off the land with the help of an Aboriginal boy in Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout. It's a film of tremendous beauty and terror about the clash between civilization and untamed nature, and how that conflict shapes — in ways both predictable and unexpected — these siblings' transformation into adults.
John Milius's unsung surfing movie follows three friends (Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, and Gary Busey) as they grow up during the late 1960s, as the Vietnam War escalates. A rowdy saga of riding waves and enduring tragedies, it's a surprisingly poignant film about seemingly invulnerable men coping with the inevitable loss of youthful innocence.
Unemployed actors enjoy the L.A. and Vegas nightlife — and ladies — in Jon Favreau's Swingers, an amusing ode to getting busy and moving on with your life. Via the fumbling and bumbling of Favreau's mopey Mike Peters, it captures how a broken heart can be the unlikely catalyst for finding your true, grown-up self.
Straw Dogs (1971)
Sam Peckinpah's controversial character study/home-invasion thriller revolves around a wimpy mathematician (Dustin Hoffman) whose very masculinity is challenged when a group of roughneck locals begins terrorizing him and his beautiful wife at a rural English cottage. Noted for its incendiary rape scene, it's fundamentally the story of a coward learning, through violence, to embrace his powerful, ultimately destructive manhood.