The Blue Lagoon (1980)

R | 104 mins | Drama | 20 June 1980

Director:

Randal Kleiser

Producer:

Randal Kleiser

Cinematographer:

Nestor Almendros

Editor:

Robert Gordon

Production Designer:

Jon Dowding

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures
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HISTORY

The following acknowledgments appear in the end credits: “Filmed in Fiji on Nanuya Levu Island”; “The Producers wish to thank the crews of ‘The Eye of the Wind,’ London, England; ‘The Golden Plover,’ Melbourne, Australia; The villagers of: Naisisili and Matathawalevu, Yasawa Island Group, Fiji.”
       A 2 Aug 1979 LAT news item reported that fourteen-year-old actress Diane Lane turned down a role in the film -- assumed to be "Emmeline" -- because she was not interested in doing a nude scene at her age. Producer-director Randal Kleiser auditioned 3,000 teenage men before hiring then TV commercial model Christopher Atkins, according to an item in Jun 1980 Los Angeles.
       A 4 Jul 1979 Var news brief announced that principal photography had begun 18 Jun 1979. A 4 Nov 1980 NYT article stated that the film’s budget was $4.5 million.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Kleiser researched a thousand possible islands, narrowed down his list to the 300 islands in the “Fiji archipelago” and selected a Pacific island named Nanuya Levu or “Big Turtle” within the archipelago, privately owned by Richard Evanson, a former cable television executive. The island’s physical layout most closely resembled writer Henry DeVere Stacpoole’s mythical island with multicolored fish in clear blue water, white beaches surrounded by dense jungle foliage, coconut groves, and black lava cliffs overlooking a crescent shaped cove.
       Additions to the landscape that were made to conform to Stacpoole’s vision included a stone god built from polyurethane blocks and a waterfall designed out of volcanic rock in the center of the island.
       According to a brief in the 13 Jul ... More Less

The following acknowledgments appear in the end credits: “Filmed in Fiji on Nanuya Levu Island”; “The Producers wish to thank the crews of ‘The Eye of the Wind,’ London, England; ‘The Golden Plover,’ Melbourne, Australia; The villagers of: Naisisili and Matathawalevu, Yasawa Island Group, Fiji.”
       A 2 Aug 1979 LAT news item reported that fourteen-year-old actress Diane Lane turned down a role in the film -- assumed to be "Emmeline" -- because she was not interested in doing a nude scene at her age. Producer-director Randal Kleiser auditioned 3,000 teenage men before hiring then TV commercial model Christopher Atkins, according to an item in Jun 1980 Los Angeles.
       A 4 Jul 1979 Var news brief announced that principal photography had begun 18 Jun 1979. A 4 Nov 1980 NYT article stated that the film’s budget was $4.5 million.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Kleiser researched a thousand possible islands, narrowed down his list to the 300 islands in the “Fiji archipelago” and selected a Pacific island named Nanuya Levu or “Big Turtle” within the archipelago, privately owned by Richard Evanson, a former cable television executive. The island’s physical layout most closely resembled writer Henry DeVere Stacpoole’s mythical island with multicolored fish in clear blue water, white beaches surrounded by dense jungle foliage, coconut groves, and black lava cliffs overlooking a crescent shaped cove.
       Additions to the landscape that were made to conform to Stacpoole’s vision included a stone god built from polyurethane blocks and a waterfall designed out of volcanic rock in the center of the island.
       According to a brief in the 13 Jul 1979 LAT , costume designer Jean-Pierre Dorleac assisted in fashioning Brooke Shields's improvised attire, which included belts made from sponges, a shirt adorned with pieces of shells and coral and crocheted from shredded cotton, as well as a wedding dress from woven rags.
       Production notes stated that due to the remoteness of the location, supply boats, seaplanes and helicopters were used to transport costumes, props and equipment to different areas of the island. Lighting for the film was done entirely with natural light and interiors were lit using sunlight through silk, a technique used by Thomas Edison. Cinematographer Nestor Almendros was chosen specifically by Kleiser for Almendros's use of natural lighting in films such as Days of Heaven (1978, see entry), for which Almendros received an Academy Award.
       Also because of the remote location, the “dailies,” the day-to-day footage a director screens to ensure he has captured the performances he needs from his actors, became “weeklies,” according to Kleiser. The time element of the process was extended because the processed film was flown in from Australia.
Reviews by Har. in the 9 Jun 1980 DV, Jack Kroll in the 23 Jun 1980 Newsweek, David Denby in the 30 Jun 1980 New West, Janet Maslin in the 20 Jun 1980 NYT, and Peter Ranier in the 20 Jun 1980 LAHExam thought that the script was silly, inept, lacking in suspense and not at all erotic. A 1 Sep People 1980 review described the movie as “a lush Fiji Islands travelogue disguised as a film.” Favorable notices by Edward Perchaluk in the Aug 1980 Film Journal, Arthur Knight in the Jul 1980 Westways, and Kevin Thomas in the 15 Jun 1980 LAT lauded the film for its tasteful and restrained handing of sensitive subject matter and a celebration of the wonders of nature. All the reviews singled out Almendros for his outstanding lighting and camera work.
       A “Rules of the Game” column by Stuart Byron in the 17-23 Sep Village Voice declared that the film earned $25 million while the 4 Nov 1980 NYT reported that, after four months, the film had earned $52 million. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Jun 1980.
---
Film Journal
Aug 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1980
p. 3.
LAHExam
20 Jun 1980.
---
Los Angeles
Jun 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Jul 1979
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
2 Aug 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Jun 1980
p. 39.
New West
30 Jun 1980.
---
New York Times
20 Jun 1980
p. 14.
New York Times
4 Nov 1980.
---
Newsweek
23 Jun 1980.
---
People
1 Sep 1980.
---
Variety
4 Jul 1979.
---
Variety
11 Jun 1980
p. 20.
Village Voice
25 Jun--1 Jul 1980.
---
Village Voice
17--23 Sep 1980
p. 48.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Randal Kleiser Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr/1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Underwater photog
Underwater photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Insert photog
Key grip
2d grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dept staff
Art dept staff
Art dept staff
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Const mgr
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus coord
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd editorial
Sd eff supv
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff asst
Title graphics
Titles & opticals
Spec opt eff by
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Scr supv
Dial supv
Prod secy
Auditor
Loc mgr
Prod asst
Unit doctor
Casting asst
Seaplane pilot
Casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Processing by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Blue Lagoon by H. De Vere Stacpoole (London, 1908).
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 June 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 20 June 1980
Production Date:
began 18 June 1979 on Nanuya Levu Island in Fiji
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 July 1980
Copyright Number:
PA74306
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor®
Lenses/Prints
Lenses & Panaflex® Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1903, Emmeline, her cousin Richard Lestrange and uncle Arthur Lestrange sail on a clipper ship bound for San Francisco, California, when a fire breaks out. In the confusion, the children are loaded onto one lifeboat with Mr. Paddy Button, the ship’s cook, while Arthur is directed onto another boat. As fog descends, the boats are separated. Soon, Paddy saves a trunk that floats nearby, and after a few days, the lifeboat drifts toward a tropical island. On shore, Emmeline, Richard, and Paddy find food to eat and discover a waterfall perfect for swimming. Afterward, the children gaze out on the ocean hoping to see Arthur’s boat, but it is nowhere to be found. By day, Paddy teaches Richard to fish, to make rope and to tie knots. They build a shelter from bamboo and swim in the warm water. During a walk, Paddy discovers bloody human remains discarded on a boulder. Later, he insists the children never venture to the other side of the island and scares them with tales about the bogeyman. To fill their days, the children play dress up with clothes from the trunk, and Paddy gets drunk from rum found on the island. One morning, the children see Paddy asleep on the beach of a neighboring islet, but when they row over to him, they discover he is dead. Without Paddy to protect them, they load up the boat to leave but find another island nearby to inhabit. With the skills Paddy taught them, they build a bamboo hut, fish, and sew. To celebrate Christmas, Richard hangs stockings filled with pearls he has found in the ocean. Emmeline confesses that ... +


In 1903, Emmeline, her cousin Richard Lestrange and uncle Arthur Lestrange sail on a clipper ship bound for San Francisco, California, when a fire breaks out. In the confusion, the children are loaded onto one lifeboat with Mr. Paddy Button, the ship’s cook, while Arthur is directed onto another boat. As fog descends, the boats are separated. Soon, Paddy saves a trunk that floats nearby, and after a few days, the lifeboat drifts toward a tropical island. On shore, Emmeline, Richard, and Paddy find food to eat and discover a waterfall perfect for swimming. Afterward, the children gaze out on the ocean hoping to see Arthur’s boat, but it is nowhere to be found. By day, Paddy teaches Richard to fish, to make rope and to tie knots. They build a shelter from bamboo and swim in the warm water. During a walk, Paddy discovers bloody human remains discarded on a boulder. Later, he insists the children never venture to the other side of the island and scares them with tales about the bogeyman. To fill their days, the children play dress up with clothes from the trunk, and Paddy gets drunk from rum found on the island. One morning, the children see Paddy asleep on the beach of a neighboring islet, but when they row over to him, they discover he is dead. Without Paddy to protect them, they load up the boat to leave but find another island nearby to inhabit. With the skills Paddy taught them, they build a bamboo hut, fish, and sew. To celebrate Christmas, Richard hangs stockings filled with pearls he has found in the ocean. Emmeline confesses that she thinks about Richard all the time, but when he asks her to explain what she means, she is unable to talk about her feelings. Instead, she thanks him for the pearls with a kiss. They attempt to sing Christmas carols, but cannot remember the words. One day while swimming, Emmeline leaves a trail of blood and panics, crying out for Richard. However, when he sees that she is bleeding and suggests she might be hurt, she assures him that she is fine. Richard is skeptical and accuses her of keeping secrets. Soon, Emmeline stares at Richard as he builds a raft on the beach. When he wants to know why she is staring, she explains that she is looking at his muscles. Richard accuses Emmeline of becoming strange in ways he does not understand. Life goes on. Now teenagers, Emmeline and Richard wonder if they will ever be found, and if there is a God. At dinner, Richard is lost in thought, so Emmeline does her best to cheer him up. In the midst of their laughter, they hear something. Richard vows to kill anyone who harms them. When a storm leaves Richard and Emmeline housebound, she pokes him with a spear when he repeatedly plays the same song on a handmade musical instrument. Richard chases Emmeline around the hut, tackling her and threatening punishment until she utters a series of compliments about his manhood. One day, Emmeline investigates some noises and finds a huge stone statue with a face carved into it. A trail of blood oozes from the statue. Emmeline believes it is really God, and wants to pray to it. Later, Emmeline has nightmares and when Richard comforts her with kisses, she pushes him away. Confused, Richard caresses a sleeping Emmeline and she again rejects his advances. Richard and Emmeline stop speaking. When Richard sees a ship on the water, he gathers wood for a bonfire, which Emmeline fails to light. The ship disappears, and an angry Richard launches a raft he has built, but it capsizes a few feet from shore. Upon his return to the island, the cousins fight because Emmeline does not believe they will be rescued. Richard disagrees, and admits that he cannot bear to be with her anymore. Afterward, they live separately. When Emmeline becomes ill after injuring her foot in the ocean, Richard confesses that he is no longer angry and would be lost without her. They consummate their love and sometime later, Emmeline has a bout of morning sickness. She confesses that she has lost her appetite for sex and they both feel her stomach move. At night, Richard finds Emmeline in labor but does not understand why she is in pain until she gives birth. As the baby named Paddy grows, it rejects solid food, but suckles Emmeline’s breast and proves to be a natural swimmer. Paddy learns about the animals on the island, builds sandcastles and speaks his first words. One day, Arthur sails on a boat near the island and sees his son, Emmeline and Paddy through a telescope but does not recognize them and leaves. Later, Emmeline sits in the lifeboat on shore with her son. She falls asleep in the boat and is awakened by the sound of Paddy pushing an oar into the water because they have drifted out to sea. Richard hears Emmeline's cries for help and swims to the boat. He climbs in just as Emmeline hits a shark with the second oar. With the shark circling the boat, they are unable to retrieve the oars and drift out to sea. After Paddy eats some poisonous red berries on the boat, Richard divides the remaining berries between himself and Emmeline. The family clutches each other and prepares to die. Then, Arthur’s ship returns and rescues the lifeboat with Emmeline, Richard and Paddy asleep in it. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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