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  • Gareth Crook

The Blue Lagoon (1980) - 3/10

The Blue Lagoon is an odd film. I’m not entirely sure what’s put it on my watch list. Did Brooke Shields say something about it recently? I think so, but if not someone probably should’ve. It’s billed and acts like a romantic adventure. Sweeping score, Hollywood titles over a suitably epic opening sequence with some Victorian travellers sailing across the ocean to America. They don’t get that far though. Their ship The Northumberland catches fire forcing them to abandon it on small row boats that quickly lose each other, leaving two small children with just a gnarly old sea dog. He steers them fortunately to a remote and unpopulated South Pacific island, cue the over the top score cranking up. Mr Button, Paddy (Leo McKern) seems quite chipper about finding paradise, but it’s short lived. He’s a terrible role model and dates this film with casual racism. He does teach the kids some survival tips though and isn’t happy about them “running round naked all the time”. This is where I’d take issue with The Blue Lagoon. There’s a lot of nudity. It’s like a Channel 5 reality show… with kids. They’re not the first humans on the island. They find bones and Paddy sees something on the far side of the island that freaks him out, warning the kids to stay far away from there. They also find a barrel of rum, much to Paddy’s joy. We all know what happens with Rum and sailors though and soon enough Paddy has an accident leaving the young children to fend for themselves… and fend they do. Tom Hanks could’ve learnt a thing or two from this pair. At least Tom kept his clothes on though. It’s uncomfortable viewing when the kids are small, but it’s not too long before Emmeline (Brooke Shields) and Richard (Christopher Atkins) grow up and that somehow seems even more troublesome, especially when Sheilds was only 15 at the time and Atkins not much older. The tagline is ‘A story of natural love’. I’d thought these children were siblings, it’s not made clear to begin, but alluded to later that they’re not, still I’m not too sure I want to watch anymore. The acting isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but they’ve not much to work with. The premise is that they can live, survive, even thrive, but it’s only ever going to be them. They’re Adam and Eve (if you go in for that sort of thing). Their days of youthful innocence behind them as they mature. Emmeline first, but soon Richard clocks on. There are momentary distractions but this feels close to some sentimentally shrouded soft porn. Their naivety is comical and their survival instincts admirable, but it’s not enough to save this. It’s a shame, it could’ve been so much better. Some better dialogue, less voyeurism, there’s a half decent story available. The location in Fiji is gorgeous too. The colours pop whichever direction the camera faces. A little information is a dangerous thing and when Emmeline discovers what Paddy had warned them to stay away from, things get complicated. There’s trouble in paradise, but that’s not the half of it. Apparently it bombed on release. I’m not surprised. It’s hard to see what audience it’s intended for. Too saccharine for adult viewers (aside pervy ones), far too adult for younger audiences, too slow paced for the masses. It’s a bit of an all round disaster and that’s before they encounter the indigenous human sacrificing locals. Bizarrely it appears there’s a sequel/remake in the 90s with Milla Jovovich.  A quick glance over of which appears to be much the same slightly exploitative mess that this is.



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