The Blue Lagoon (1980)


After a shipwreck, a boy, a girl and a sailor find themselves marooned in 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 this movie was so popular. Heck, I was there and I have difficulty explaining it! My theory is that people found irresistible the idea of living in a picture-perfect island, no work and no responsibilities, with the only swimming and sex as the main pastimes. Who wouldn’t like that? The Blue Lagoon seems like a dream conjured up by stressed out suburbanites.

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, appealing actors, and yes, sex & nudity, to hold the viewers’ attention for nearly two hours. Nestor Almendros’s (Days of Heaven and Sophie’s Choice) Oscar-nominated cinematography is quite beautiful.

The Blue Lagoon did for Brooke Shields what Blake Edwards’s 10 did for Bo Derek — it turned her into one of the biggest sex symbols of the era. The problem is that Derek was a grown woman and Shields was a 14-year-old girl when she made the film. Back in 1980, I was not even a teenager yet so I thought the whole thing was pretty innocent. But now that I’m in my 40s, I have to admit that I felt a little uncomfortable seeing Shields being sexualized in an extreme manner.

Is it honest storytelling or mere exploitation? It’s hard to tell what the filmmakers had in mind. They did use a double for the frontal nudity, but really … Today this kind of thing will make the internet explode. That being said, the camera is clearly in love with Shields and her co-star Christopher Atkins (The Pirate Movie) — it’s hard to come up with more photogenic actors. Leo McKern (Ryan’s Daughter) plays the old seaman who helps the kids survive the shipwreck.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Although the critics hated it, 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 hate it though. The script is pretty mundane, but, against my better judgement, I found myself 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 — but neither one was successful. Color, 115 minutes, Rated R.


3 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

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