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.