- Movie Rating -

The Blue Lagoon (1980)

| July 2, 1980

The Blue Lagoon is the lamest tease ever produced, a movie that reaches for nudity and the promises of something titillating and ends up being about as sexed-up as those paintings of Adam and Eve with the fig leaves covering their genitals.  The producers don’t want to sell this movie for the soft-core hatchet job that it is, so they try a sleight of hand by pushing it as tender love story about two young kids who grow up on an island spaced away from the world who discover nature, love and, of course, sex.  No one wants to admit that they’re really selling a Playboy video with good production values.

The movie is based on a romantic novel written in 1908 by Irish author Henry der Vere Stacpole which I fully intend to read on the day that they had a 30th day to the month of February.  I’m sure his book had noble intentions but the film is just a tease.  The filmmaker teases us and tease us for all of its agonizing 105 minutes with the promise of separating Ms. Shields from her clothing.  The fact that she is 14-years-of age is troubling.  More troubling is that her sexual awakening is being sold here as art.

The story might make for a naughty serial in a porn magazine.  It’s the late 19th century and a passenger ship is wrecked near a small island.  Two children, one a 9-year-old boy named Richard and the other a 7-year-old girl named Emmaline are shipwrecked along with the ship’s cook named Paddy (Leo McKern) who dies shortly after eating some deadly berries.

The two kids grow up alone on the island and as they approach their teenage years their bodies begin to change in ways they don’t expect.  So too do their affections for one another.  She’s confused about the changes in her body and, well, so is he.  Soon they are here on this sun-drenched tropical paradise discovering their beautiful bodies in ways that make the perverts in the audience very frustrated.  The long-awaited scenes where they have sex are carefully choreographed by director Randel Kleiser so that we get the idea but not the payoff.

Worse is what happens when they awaken the morning after.  They go swimming and witness two turtles doing the same thing they did last night.  It is left to wonder if they learned anything because it is obvious have more of a handle on this then the couple does.

The sexual chemistry does its natural function and soon Emmaline is pregnant, although both she and Richard are completely buffaloed about what is going on – maybe they should ask the turtles.  Sure enough, she eventually produces a baby in a scene so mishandled that I defy anyone to try and explain it.  The editing in this movie is a mess, but ironically the staff in charge of keeping Ms. Shields’ breasts concealed by her hair were fully on the job.  Gotta keep our priorities straight.

Life on the island is more or less idealized.  Gone are the messy parts of human survival; the starvation, the exposure to the elements, the danger of predators, not even a visit from the often talked-about cannibal tribes that apparently inhabit the other side of the island.  The movie gives us no sense of reality, no sense of how any of this might play out.  It’s a fantasy that takes place mostly at sunset.

I was dumbstruck by idiocy of the movie’s final act.  The kids set themselves out onto the open sea on a raft, hoping to be rescued.  In despair, they take some of the berries that killed the galley cook, hoping to drift off into that goodnight.  BUT it turns out that Richard’s father has been sailing around looking for them.  The final moment of this movie is so aggravating that you want to hurl bowling balls at the screen.  This is a movie that promises everything and delivers virtually nothing.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized