The Blue Lagoon (1980 film)

The Blue Lagoon (1980 film)

name = The Blue Lagoon

caption = Promotional poster for "The Blue Lagoon"
director = Randal Kleiser
writer = Douglas Day Stewart (screenplay)
Henry De Vere Stacpoole (novel)
starring = Brooke Shields
Christopher Atkins
Leo McKern
William Daniels
producer = Randal Kleiser
music = Basil Poledouris
cinematography = Nestor Almendros
editing = Robert Gordon
distributor = Columbia Pictures
released = June 20, 1980 (USA)
runtime = 104 min.
country = USA
language = English
budget = $4,500,000 (estimated)
amg_id = 1:6267
imdb_id = 0080453
followed_by = "Return to the Blue Lagoon"

"The Blue Lagoon" is a 1980 English language romance and adventure film starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins, produced and directed by Randal Kleiser. The screenplay by Douglas Day Stewart was based on the novel "The Blue Lagoon" by Henry De Vere Stacpoole. The original music score was composed by Basil Poledouris and the cinematography was by Nestor Almendros.

The film tells the story of two young children shipwrecked on a tropical island paradise in the South Pacific. Emotional feelings and physical changes arise as they reach puberty and fall in love. The film has major thematic similarities to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Plot summary

In the Victorian period, two young children, Richard and Emmeline Lestrange (Emmeline's parents are dead, and it is implied that Richard's father adopted her), and a galley cook are the survivors of a shipwreck in the South Pacific. In the turmoil of the burning ship from which they escaped, they become separated from another lifeboat that the boy's father is in and drift out to sea. After days afloat, they arrive and are stranded on a lush tropical island. The cook, Paddy Button, assumes the responsibility for caring for the small children, teaching them how to behave, how to forage for food, etc. He cautions them about the other side of the island, where he has seen evidence of bloody human sacrifices. He doesn't go into detail but tells them the bogeyman is there, and makes them agree to a "law" that they will never venture in that direction. Another "law" is that they must never eat a certain scarlet berry that Emmeline finds -- they are "never-wake-up" berries. The memory of having had these things in her mouth haunts Emmeline in a nightmare later in the film, and because Paddy talks about being "dead'n'buried," she associates the words with the berries and calls them the "dead'n'berries."

An unspecified amount of time passes and Paddy eventually dies in a drunken binge. Richard and Emmeline, now alone and very frightened, cross in the lifeboat to another island and rebuild their home. Together, they have to survive solely on their resourcefulness, and the bounty of their remote paradise. Years pass and they both grow into tall, strong and beautiful teenagers. They live in a self-constructed hut and spend their days together fishing, swimming, and diving for pearls. Eventually, strange emotions start influencing their relationship.

Richard and Emmeline begin to fall in love, although this is emotionally stressful for them because of their general ignorance of human sexuality. Both teens' bodies mature and develop, and they are physically attracted to each other, but do not know how to express it. Emmeline is shown beginning her first menstrual period when she was swimming naked and being very frightened at first. She also suffers a nasty mood swing, which she cannot explain. Richard has many questions about what is happening to them, but has no answers; he wants to hold and kiss Emmeline, which he tries when she has a nightmare about him drowning, but when she rejects him, he goes off alone and masturbates. Unfortunately, Emmeline catches him in the act and a major conflict ensues regarding privacy. Emmeline, ever curious, goes to the other side of the island and stumbles upon a shrine with a Kon-Tiki-like idol there. Its shrine is covered with blood. Instinctively recognizing that this is a holy place, she kneels and prays, later telling Richard that she thinks Paddy was mistaken; that the "bogeyman", who bleeds like Jesus, is actually God. However, they then get into an argument regarding the "law," and when they start impersonating each other's maturing bodies. When Emmeline accidentally hits Richard with a coconut, he hits her across the face and evicts her from the shelter he built, telling her to find her own. Ultimately, they make up after this fight, however, when Emmeline accidentally steps on "one of those fish that looks like a rock" and barely survives as Richard sets her down at the shrine. Richard tells her of his fear of losing her.

Richard and Emmeline are then seen swimming naked in the coral reef until they swim to shore. Still naked near the shrine and eating some fruit, Richard and Emmeline start to joke around, then inadvertently discover passionate love, French kissing and sexual intercourse. Deciding that this is the best way to express their love for each other, they spend all their time over the next few months together, make love very often and hang out naked. Unfortunately, Emmeline starts to feel painful and ill and then her stomach starts to get larger. Although the audience is fully aware that Emmeline is pregnant, Richard and Emmeline themselves have no knowledge of childbirth and don't understand the physical changes to Emmeline's body. One night, Richard discovers Emmeline is missing. Looking for her in the forest, he discovers the origins of the drums they have been hearing from time to time on the forbidden side of the island. They come from a group of natives from another island, who use the shrine to sacrifice conquered enemies. Richard flees as the sacrifice is killed. Richard hears Emmeline cry out, and follows the sound just in time to help her give birth to a baby boy whom they named Paddy. Worried about the sacrifices, they escape their island and move to the island they left Paddy Button on.

The young couple spend all their time together with Paddy, teaching him how to swim, throw a spear, and play in the mud. It is during this mud play that we see a ship in the distance, heading for the island. Although Richard was formerly keen to leave and remonstrated with Emmeline for not lighting signal fires when they saw ships, he is now committed to the island as their home and does nothing. Meanwhile, the crew, led by Richard's father Arthur, see the family playing on the shore but as they're completely covered in mud, assume that these are Tahitian natives, not the young couple they've been searching for all these years.

One day, the two young parents and Paddy cross in the lifeboat to the place they lived just after arriving. While Richard looks through their old things and cuts bananas, absent-minded Emmeline doesn't realize her son has not only brought a branch of some berries into the boat, he has tossed one of the oars out. When the tide sweeps the boat out into the lagoon, Richard swims to her, followed closely by a shark. Emmeline throws the other oar at the shark, striking it and giving Richard just enough time to get in the boat. Though not far from shore, they are unable to return -- they cannot jump in the water to retrieve the oars without risking a shark attack. They try to paddle with their hands, but to no avail; the boat is caught in the current and drifts out to sea.

After days of being adrift, Richard and Emmeline wake in the boat to find Paddy eating the berries he picked, a poisonous berry they called the "never wake up berries" as told to them by deceased Paddy. Emmeline tries to get him to spit them out, but he has swallowed them. Hopelessly lost, Richard and Emmeline decide to eat the berries as well, lying down embracing to await death. Only a few hours later, Arthur's ship finds them floating in the boat. Arthur asks, "Are they dead?" and the ship's captain answers, "No, sir. They are asleep." The ending, true to the book, differs considerably from the one in the 1949 film version.

The story is eventually continued in the 1991 sequel "Return to the Blue Lagoon". In this film, which picks up where "The Blue Lagoon" left off, Richard and Emmeline die in the lifeboat minutes after being found, but their son is rescued. He ultimately ends up back on the island in a story similar to that of the first film. This is based very loosely on Henry De Vere Stacpoole's actual sequel "The Garden of God".


* Brooke Shields as Emmeline Lestrange
* Christopher Atkins as Richard Lestrange
* Leo McKern as Paddy Button
* William Daniels as Arthur Lestrange
* Elva Josephson as Young Emmeline
* Glenn Kohan as Young Richard
* Alan Hopgood as Captain
* Gus Mercurio as Officer


The film was shot on location in Jamaica and Nanuya Levu, a privately-owned island in Fiji, whilst the blue lagoon scenes were shot in Champagne Bay, Vanuatu. The flora and fauna featured in the film were entirely out of place for the island setting. The director utilized a bizarre array of animals from multiple continents. Wranglers even daubed paint on docile iguanas to give them an exotic appearance.

In the DVD version of this film, it was stated that many of Brooke Shields' nude scenes were in fact done by older body doubles. In addition, the film's stunt coordinator Kathy Troutt was one of the body doubles as well as the dolphin trainer. It was also stated that Brooke Shields had done many of her topless scenes with her hair glued to her breasts. ["The Blue Lagoon (DVD special edition)" Released 10/5/99]


The film was the ninth biggest box office hit of 1980 in North America according to Box Office Mojo, grossing US$58,853,106 in the United States and Canada. [ [ 1980 Domestic Grosses] ] Unlike her earlier "Pretty Baby", this film featured no actual nude scenes for the young Shields, who was only 14 when the film was made. A body double was used for all of her nude scenes, although Shields was featured in several topless scenes. Atkins has a few full frontal nudity scenes however, and the film also featured love scenes. The film was criticized as prurient by several Christian and conservative groups, primarily because of the themes presented in the movie. The story touches on masturbation (but without total apparent evidence of it), teenage sex, alcoholism, suicide and other controversial subjects without delving into any of these topics in depth or portending a moral message. To this day, some Christian film review sourcesFact|date=July 2008 cite "The Blue Lagoon" as a benchmark for measuring the immorality of a film, particularly when it comes to teenagers in sexual situations.

DVD details

"Special Edition Release"
*Release date: October 5, 1999
*Full Screen and Widescreen
*Region: 1
*Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
*Audio tracks: English, Spanish:2 Audio commentaries: :Randal Kleiser, Douglas Day Stewart, and Brooke Shields:Randal Kleiser and Christopher Atkins
*Subtitles: English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
*Special Features: :Personal photo album by Brooke Shields:Original featurette:Theatrical trailer :Cast and crew info
*Running time: 105 minutes

Awards and nominations

:Nominee: Academy Award for Best Cinematography - Nestor Almendros:Nominee: Saturn Award - Best Fantasy Film:Nominee: Golden Globe Award, New Star of the Year - Christopher Atkins:Winner: 1980 Golden Raspberry Awards, Worst Actress - Brooke Shields
*Young Artist Awards:Nominee: Best Major Motion Picture - Family Entertainment:Nominee: Best Young Motion Picture Actor - Christopher Atkins:Nominee: Best Young Motion Picture Actress - Brooke Shields


See also

*"The Blue Lagoon", 1949 version
*"Return to the Blue Lagoon"

External links

*imdb title|id=0080453|title=The Blue Lagoon (1980)
*tcmdb title|id=23833|title=The Blue Lagoon (1980)
*amg title|id=1:6267|title=The Blue Lagoon (1980)
*rotten-tomatoes|id=blue_lagoon|title=The Blue Lagoon (1980)

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