Whats up everyone? Today while I was home and bored I decided to watch this movie on Netflix. I had a deeply unlocked memory of Brook Shields playing in it during the infancy of her career, but I had never watched it. What I wasn’t ready for was a 1980 film portraying a couple of Victorian era children being stranded on an island and having a sexual awakening for an hour an a half of run time.
As aforementioned, I had a bit of background knowledge going into this movie, but not by much. I knew Brooke Shields had played in this movie, and I vaguely remember a sequel/remake coming out of this movie a few years ago. I had never watched the remake of the movie. My mother I remembered mentioning how she hated that all of her era movies were being rewritten for the big screen once more. Due to that, I knew this movie probably dated somewhere in the 70s-80s; my mother is a boomer and will go absolutely rabid for remakes of movies during this time.
For all intensive purposes, the background to this movie is as follows: Ship gets shipwrecked, two children and the ship cook Paddy survives. Paddy dies and leaves the children to fend for themselves on an island only inhabited by a tribe on the other side of the island. There’s not much to know there, except that Paddy forbids the children from going to the other side of the island, claiming that it is “by law” they cannot ever go join the tribe. I sort of wish there was more to the tribe than that, but all you’ll really see is a couple minutes of screen time of the tribe as they kill someone.
So the movie ages up the two children, Richard and Emmeline pretty quickly after the cook dies. Not too weird unless you were prepared to watch “Lord of the Flies” — but they decide to age the children up to puberty and then decide to ditch the clothes for the majority of screen time.
Which is only made more awkward by two actors that are teenagers themselves. Upon googling I realized that Brooke Shields herself is 14 and Christopher Atkins is 19.
Weird. Talk about very weird and uncomfortable.
I know it’s a different time, but even then I still feel that unless I was a teenager myself this would’ve made me feel a bit uncomfortable back in the 1980s as well. This movie really likes the idea of sexualizing innocence. This was seen in many different scenes and scenarios throughout the movie. For example, Emmeline gets her period in one take and doesn’t know what’s happening. Richard wants to come closer and to take a look at where she’s bleeding from and then Emmaline shies away from him before he could get any closer. The way the characters talk to each other is very child-like. I know that they are portraying two children that had grown up outside of society and social norms, but some scenes are uncomfortable to get through because of this. Then to top it all off they are scantily clad the entire time.
The worst part of all was when they ended up conceiving a baby and then they had no clue what to do with it/him. I thought perhaps survival instinct would take over in these sort of scenarios, but that isn’t the case as they try feeding him coconut water as opposed to breast milk. After they seem to figure out how to feed them all seems well again, until they end up on a lifeboat they had and drift too far from shore after fighting a shark.
Yes they had a lifeboat. Yes they fought a shark.
I could go into an entire rant about the 70s fetishising young teenage girls and hatred of sharks as shown by Jaws– but thats an article for another day.
When this movie had came out in June of 1980, it was met by mixed reviews by critics for an array of reasons; Brooke Shield’s performance, the overall movie and execution being called out in the process (source). But it was a box office success, so make of that what you will if you’re planning on watching it. I will give the Blue Lagoon this: it took risks. Were the risks worth it? Up to you. For me I’m not the biggest fan of the movie.
Overall I give this movie a 1/5 stars. I didn’t like the oversexualization of teen actors. The premise of the movie didn’t make sense as there was multiple chances for the children to get off the island to the point it was almost comical. This movie didn’t feel romantic and it didn’t feel suspenseful. It just felt…wrong.