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 this movie 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? The Blue Lagoon seems like a fantasy conjured up by bored and 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) Oscar-nominated cinematography is quite beautiful.
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 simi-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 more photogenic actors. Leo McKern (Ryan’s Daughter and 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.