The Blue Lagoon (1980)
When The Blue Lagoon premiered in 1980, it was a box-office smash, but not for the reasons director Randal Kleiser and screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart intended. The movie advertised as a frank and beautiful look at how a couple of young people learn about “natural love”, but in reality, it was little more than a big-budget, silly skin flick.
Based on the novel by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, The Blue Lagoon is set in the late 19th century when a ship, carrying a very young boy and girl, is destroyed at sea. The little tykes, along with grizzled sailor Leo McKern, are set adrift in a lifeboat and eventually find themselves stranded on a lush island. Anyway, McKern dies and the kiddies grow up to be deadweights Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins.
There isn’t much of a narrative drive to this story. The audience simply waits until Shields and Atkins get nekkid. They swim and fish and gather fruit and pretty much have next to nothing interesting to say to one another. There’s also this native tribe who live on the other side of the island, but even though years pass, they never seem to run into one another, as if there is this invisible barrier that separates the island into two impenetrable hemispheres.
So, yes, Shields has her first period, Atkins learns to masturbate, and
by watching the other creatures on the island and in the ocean they sort of figure things out and have sex. Of course, Shields gets pregnant, but neither of them understands how. I guess at this point parents were supposed to be cued into discussing the birds and the bees with their own children. So much time and effort in The Blue Lagoon is devoted to wondering if and when they are going to do it, that all reality is lost. Never at any point do we actually feel like Shields and Atkins are in any kind of peril, or that their situation is any kind of real hardship, any tension about a possible rescue is lost. Yes, they and their child are eventually found adrift in the ocean by Atkins’s father who spent years searching for them. Are they alive? Dead? Asleep? Ah, we never know. At least, we never know until the misguided 1991 sequel, Return to the Blue Lagoon, answered that question no one really cared about answering.
Okay, okay. The burning question is: Do Shields and Atkins go au naturel? Yes…and no. Atkins walks and swims around in the buff quite a bit (which is pretty much the only use he ever had as a movie star), but Shields always keeps her hair draped across her bosom until there are some shots of her nude body doubleto increase the booby quotient.
The Blue Lagoon is just a lot of brainless twaddle. Yes, the island photography is lush and gorgeous and the underwater moments are enchanting, but there isn’t much else to recommend it. If you’re watching it because of the extensive nudity (and, really, why else would anyone want to watch it), just find some stills on the internet and be done with it. You’ll save your valuable time, at least.