When I first heard about this blogathon, I kept thinking of the same movie over and over. I entertained the idea of others, obviously there are many movies that have water or the beach in them. I could have picked one of my favorite artists, Maya Deren, and her short film At Land, but I wasn’t sure if it qualified. I do recommend you click on the link and watch it. It’s a 15-minute marvel of surrealism. If you like it, watch also Meshes of the Afternoon, which is my favorite.
I thought about Maya Deren, but I kept coming back to one movie, and that is The Blue Lagoon. Released in 1980, starring Brooke Shields as Emmeline and Christopher Atkins as Richard, The Blue Lagoon was panned by critics. Audiences didn’t quite agree as the movie did all right at the box office and even spawned two remakes. What is it about two innocent teenagers falling in love on a remote island that makes people want to watch several movies about it?
First, a quick summary of the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it or don’t remember the plot.
Two children, Emmeline and Richard, end up stranded on a tropical island with Paddy Button, a cook, when their ship catches fire. Paddy dies soon after their arrival, and the children have to fend for themselves. Most of the movie, we get to witness the innocent teens trying to figure out what is going on with them. No one taught them about sexual development, or sex for that matter, so they have many feelings and thoughts they do not understand. This causes many misunderstandings and arguments between them.
The turning point is when Emmeline injures her foot on a Stone Fish and Richard finds her in a bad state (almost dying). He takes care of her and nurses her back to health, realizing he is in love with her. When she recovers, they begin taking their “funny feelings” further. For a while, there are scenes of looking at each other lovingly and with longing, smiling knowingly at each other, caressing, kissing, and (presumably) sex. We’re never shown sex scenes, but it’s heavily implied. Soon enough, Emmeline is pregnant, although the two innocents don’t realize this.
She gives birth to a boy they name Paddy. Accidentally, the three of them get stranded out at sea, they eat poisonous berries, and go to sleep. Their boat is spotted by a ship, on which is Richard’s father, who presumably has been searching for them all these years. A crew paddles out to them.
The last lines:
Richard’s father: “Are they dead?”
Man: “No, sir, they’re asleep.”
I first saw this movie as a child, and I’ve seen it several times since. There may be many things to criticize about this movie, but there is some depth to it. First of all, this movie is a pleasure to watch. There are many exquisite nature and wildlife scenes. Second, this movie asks some deep questions, for example: “Why do people have to be so bad to each other?”. Third, and I believe this is where the appeal of this movie lies, the theme is innocence and simplicity.
Our culture seems obsessed with getting away from it all, but who’s to blame us when there is so much to get away from. Many of us dream of a simpler life with fewer problems and concerns. Two innocent children, though very well mannered, unspoiled by society seems an idealized collective dream. The most interesting question is why.
My one criticism of the movie is that it was obviously made by a male director, from a male point of view.
What do you think? Have you seen The Blue Lagoon? What did you think of it? Is it just a pretty picture or does it have some merit?
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