The Blue Lagoon (1980)

Brooke Shields as Emmeline in The Blue Lagoon (1980)

Paradise Lust

The last time I watched "The Blue Lagoon" I was a teenage boy and yes like all typical teenage boys during the 80s I was watching because we all knew it contained nudity. So sitting down to watch it for the first time in probably 25 years it was sort of like watching it for the first time because I know I wouldn't have been paying any attention to the story as a young boy. And to be honest "The Blue Lagoon" disappointed me because the storyline of 2 children growing up alone on a remote tropical island and having to deal with the confusion of sexual feelings has great potential. But what we get in "The Blue Lagoon" is some ideas but no real flesh on the bones and a focus on making it romantic rather than a more realistic drama.

As Richard and his cousin Emmeline head to San Francisco on a boat with Richard's father an accident causes the boat to go up in flames and in the confusion the young children end up on a lifeboat with Paddy Button, one of the ships crew. After days of floating aimlessly at sea they come across a tropical island and set about making it home but an incident leaves Paddy dead and just young Richard and Emmeline to fend for themselves. Managing to survive the two young cousins grow and as they hit their teens find them selves having to deal with strange feelings and arousal and with no one there to teach them it is up to the cousins to work through these strange feelings for themselves.

Christopher Atkins as Richard in The Blue Lagoon (1980)

So whilst the build up in "The Blue Lagoon" leads to Richard and Emmeline along with Paddy making home on an island with Paddy teaching them how to fend for themselves the real focus comes when an incident leaves the cousins having to survive on their own. Now this is where the movie becomes one thing when it could have become something else because we could have had a more realistic look at these 2 young children surviving on an island where instead we get something more akin to a romantic fantasy. And I say that it is fantasy because whilst we have what you could say are "Coming of Age" issues there are a lot of contrivances you have to take for granted none more so than the young Richard being able to row a boat without being knackered within minutes. Oh and there are the tribe of drum beating killers on the other side of the island which miraculously never discover the cousins.

So we have this romantic, fantasy/ coming of age movie which focuses mainly on both Richard and Emmeline dealing with puberty, hormones, moods, hair growing on their body and a lot of other stuff to confuse their uneducated minds. Now it could have been more realistic, the confusion could have been so more believable but instead we get romance as in isolation these cousins fall for each other. Is it nice? Yes, scenes shot whilst the sun goes down make it beautiful but it is also very weak and the issues which they have to deal with whilst good are just that ideas and lack any real substance.

Now whilst the actual storyline left me disappointed the acting didn't with both Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins doing a good job of playing Emmeline and Richard. They get the innocence and confusion of their characters just right and whilst far too often the camera shoots them in a romantic light they do a good job of not making what they do too romantic but more tentative.

What this all boils down to is that "The Blue Lagoon" is neither a good nor a bad movie just one which to be frank will always be famous for Brooke Shields and various scenes of nudity. It is a shame that rather than going for realism it was made with a romantic focus because the potential for a clever movie is definitely there.