The Blue Lagoon

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Victorian period, two young cousins, Richard and Emmeline Lestrange, and a galley cook, Paddy Button (Leo McKern), survive a shipwreck in the South Pacific and reach a lush tropical island. Paddy cares for the small children and forbids them by “law” from going to the other side of the island, as he found evidence of remains of bloody human sacrifices. He also warns them against eating a scarlet berry which is apparently deadly.

Paddy soon dies after a drunken binge, and his body is discovered by Richard and Emmeline. Now alone, the children go to another part of the island and rebuild their home.

Years pass and they both grow into tall, strong, and beautiful teenagers. They live in their hut, spending their days together fishing, swimming, and diving for pearls. Richard and Emmeline (now portrayed by Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields) begin to fall in love, although this is emotionally stressful for them because of their lack of education on human sexuality. Emmeline is frightened after she begins her first menstrual period and is nervous when Richard wants to inspect her for a cut.

Sometime later, their relationship suffers a major blow when a ship appears for the first time in years. Richard’s desire to leave comes into conflict with Emmeline’s desire to stay, and she does not light the signal fire. As a result, the ship passes by without noticing them. Richard’s fury leads him to kick Emmeline out of their hut. They make up for this fight after Emmeline is nearly killed upon stepping on a stonefish and Richard admits to his fear of losing her. Emmeline recovers and after she regains her ability to walk, they go skinny dipping in the lagoon and then swim to shore. Still naked, Richard and Emmeline discover sexual intercourse and then passionate love. They regularly make love from then on while occasionally spending their time together in the nude. Due to their regular sexual encounters, Emmeline becomes pregnant. Richard and Emmeline themselves do not know about the truth of childbirth and human reproduction and assume that the physical changes in Emmeline’s body is her getting fat. They are stunned when they feel the baby move inside her and assume it’s her stomach causing the movements.

One night, Emmeline gives birth to a baby boy, whom they name Paddy. Frustrated at not knowing how to feed the baby, Emmeline holds him and learns how to feed him as the baby instinctively starts sucking on her breast. The young parents spend their time playing with Paddy as he grows, teaching him how to swim, fish, and build things.

As the family plays, a ship led by Richard’s father Arthur (William Daniels), approaches the island and sees the family playing on the shore. As they are covered in mud, Arthur assumes these are natives, not the young couple they have been searching for all these years, and the ship passes.

One day, the young family takes the lifeboat to visit their original homesite. While waiting for Richard, Emmeline and Paddy remain in the boat. Emmeline falls asleep and does not notice when Paddy brings a branch of the scarlet berries into the boat. She awakes as Paddy tosses one of the oars out. The tide was sweeping the boat into the lagoon and Richard swims to her, followed closely by a shark. Emmeline throws the other oar at the shark, striking it and giving Richard time to get into the boat. Though close to shore, they are unable to return or retrieve the oars without risking a shark attack. They paddle with their hands to no avail; the boat is caught in the current and drifts out to sea.

After drifting for days in the boat, Richard and Emmeline awake to find Paddy eating the berries he picked. Realizing that these are poisonous berries, they try to stop him, but he had already swallowed a few. Hopeless, Richard and Emmeline eat the berries as well, lying down to await death. A few hours later, Arthur’s ship finds them floating in the boat. Arthur asks, “Are they dead?” and the ship’s captain (Alan Hopgood) answers, “No, sir. They’re asleep.”

REVIEW:

When I was little, my family and I would go to the video store (back in the days of videocassette rentals) and I would always see a copy of The Blue Lagoon. It intrigued me and, as I grew into puberty, I wanted to see it mostly because it had naked people on the cover. As you can imagine, the parental units never let that happen. So, up until today, I had never seen this film, but I have heard stories, rumors, complaints, and praise about it. So, let’s see what I think, shall we?

What is this about?

Two shipwrecked children, stranded for years on a deserted island, fall in love as teenagers and attempt to forge a life in the isolated paradise.

What did I like?

Under the sea. First off, can I just say that the exotic locale that was used for filming is breathtaking! I can imagine that when filming wrapped no one wanted to leave this place. Second, the undersea shots are majestically beautiful. It was like watching an old National Geographic special, only without the narration. Even the shot of Brooke Shields’ character stepping on a stonefish was beautiful, despite the harsh ramification of that act.

Sibling rivalry. Before they grow into young adults and fall in love, there is a sibling rivalry going on between our two leads that seems to be as authentic as I’ve seen. As much as I tortured my sister and messed with my brother, I think I know a thing or two about sibling rivalry. Their playful relationship is quite refreshing to see. It isn’t very often we get to see a boy and a girl just playing with each other, which leads me to the next topic…

Growing pains. Imagine you’re about 10 years old or so and your guardian person up and dies, leaving you and your brother to fend for yourself on an island where you are the only inhabitants. The years pass and you both grow into tall, beautiful people (more on that shortly). It isn’t long before you notice the changes in both of your bodies. No male, regardless of age, is comfortable dealing with women’s menstrual stuff. I still remember how squeamish my biology teacher was when we got to that part of the book. He rushed through it and didn’t look back. The film sort of does the same thing, but there really was no reason to harp on her monthly visitor. What I did appreciate was how they took the time to emphasize how both teens were noticing each other’s change in bodies and how attractive they were. Made for a more believable setting.

What didn’t I like?

Pretty perfect. I can’t help but wonder how it is that two people, abandoned on a deserted island at a very young age, grow into perfect specimens? Literally, Brooke Shields was still a model at this time, but she seems as if she came from off the runway, stripped her clothes off and went to work. Christopher Atkins is a little better, but he also seems like he should be on magazine covers. That is not to mention how clean they are. For a couple of people living off nature, they should have long fingernails, messy hair, scratches all over themselves, etc. Instead, they look like they are spending a day at the spa! WTF?!?

Shirt tales. Normally, I wouldn’t complain about a topless girl, but Brooke Shields was 14 or so at the time this film was made, and her younger self is just that, young. Apparently, though, Shields’ character had something against shirts because once she sheds that classy Victorian outfit she was wearing, she almost never had a top on. Had this film been made today, both version of her would have been covered up as much as possible in her younger days and then maybe a bikini top of sorts when she’s older. As a matter of fact, there was a made-for-TV remake that did just that.

Down comfort. I question whether or not this is a true drama. It doesn’t have that heavy depressing feel that most dramas tend to have. However, when we get to the final scene it is a bit out of place, due to its dark nature. The rest of the film has been pretty light and fun, with a couple of exceptions here and there, but this scene brought things back to the real world, if you will. For what purpose? I cannot tell you, other than the director wanted a Romeo & Juliet type of artistic moment.

Going into The Blue Lagoon, I expected to be bored out of my mind with some heavy flick, but that turned out to be the case. This was actually a fun film. There are issues, such as the leads and their inability to act. Brooke Shields was criticized for her wooden acting and I can see why. Thank goodness she got better as she got older. Atkins was a little better, but not much. Truth be told, this a film for everyone. If not for the nudity, I believe this could be a family film. I highly recommend it, so give it a shot sometime.

4 out of 5 stars

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