The Blue Lagoon (1980)


After a shipwreck, a boy, a girl and a sailor find themselves marooned on a tropical island. When the sailor dies unexpectedly, the kids grow closer as they battle isolation and the elements. They also discover the pleasures of love and sex.

Reaction & Thoughts:

One of the biggest hits of the 1980s doesn’t look like much now. Modern viewers will probably fail to understand why The Blue Lagoon was so popular. Heck, I was there and I have difficulty explaining it! My own theory is that people found irresistible the idea of living on a picture-perfect island, no work and no responsibilities, with swimming, eating and sexual activities as the main pastimes. Who wouldn’t like that?

Directed by Randal Kleiser (Grease) from a screenplay by Douglas Day Stewart (An Officer and a Gentleman) based upon Henry De Vere Stacpoole’s 1908 novel, The Blue Lagoon is a nearly plotless movie that relies on gorgeous images (stunningly shot by Nestor Almendros, Days of Heaven), appealing young actors, nudity and sex to hold the viewers’ attention for nearly two hours.

The film turned Brooke Shields into one of the biggest sex symbols of the era. Shields was only 14-years-old when she made the film and her semi-nude scenes are a little creepy. Back in 1980, I wasn’t even a teenager yet so I thought the whole thing was pretty innocent. But now that I’m much older, I have to admit that I felt a bit uncomfortable watching the underage Shields being sexualized in an extreme manner.

The Blue Lagoon was clearly inspired by the Biblical story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (there is even a “forbidden fruit”), so maybe one shouldn’t read too much into it. And they did use doubles for the sporadic frontal nudity. Anyhow, I’m almost sure that you couldn’t make the movie today (I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing).

Regardless of all that, there is no doubt that the camera is clearly in love with Shields and her co-star Christopher Atkins (The Pirate Movie) — it would have been nearly impossible to come up with better-looking actors. Shields and Atkins also have great chemistry and that helps a great deal — we care about them and their problems. Leo McKern (The Omen) plays the old seaman who helps the kids survive the shipwreck.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

The Blue Lagoon managed to make a small fortune. I wasn’t impressed then, and it doesn’t impress me now. I can’t say I disliked it, though. Against my better judgement, I found myself completely immersed in the movie — it’s not a terribly bad way to spend a couple of hours. The film spawned two sequels (Return to the Blue Lagoon and Blue Lagoon: The Awakening) and a few copycats (e.g. the 1982 film Paradise, starring Phoebe Cates and Willie Aames). Color, 115 minutes, Rated R.

5 responses to “The Blue Lagoon (1980)

  1. I think I saw this on a network premiere years ago but all I really recall was all my buddies excitingly looking forward to seeing Brooke and all the whispering about what she may or may not be wearing in the film when our parents weren’t listening….lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You always trigger some great memories from my days as a VHS smuggler! My parents said, “no, you can’t watch Blue Lagoon.” That pronouncement made me really, really curious. A school friend got me an “illegal” copy, but when I finally sat down to watch the movie, in the wee hours of the night, I discovered that this was “much ado about nothing.” I did think Shields was such a peach! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this movie and it’s portrayal of childhood innocence evolving into adult awareness and responsibilities. I have it in my personal DVD collection. Brook Shields speaks extensively about it in her excellent 2014 memoir THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL.

    Thanks for the info about the sequels. I didn’t know there were any.

    Liked by 1 person

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