In 1980, Randal Kleiser's remake of The Blue Lagoon
had its critics well and truly divided. On the one hand adolescent nudity, however tasteful, was enough to give the censors the vapours. On the other, the story--essentially a reworking of Robinson Crusoe
based on Stacpoole's Edwardian adventure novel with two young children as the castaways growing up on a desert island--seemed just too removed from reality. Kleiser set out to make "the ultimate South Seas film", and indeed the location shooting is a richly beautiful complement to the intimate tale of two young people coming to terms with their own adulthood. He teases out touching performances from Brooke Shields (Emmeline) and Christopher Atkins (Richard) as the marooned pair, and a nicely ambivalent cameo from Leo McKern as Paddy, the ship's cook who gets them set up on the island before rum gets the better of him.
A stilted script helps none of them. But the moments of awkward self-discovery and dawning sexuality are handled with a tenderness which ultimately triumphs over some of the more implausible elements: Shields' perpetually manicured nails, for example, or the fact that she unexpectedly gives birth without breaking sweat. To say nothing of the pair's extraordinary home-building skills, which would have been beyond the remit of the average Edwardian governess to teach. Today, for all its efforts to be taken seriously as a tale of preserved innocence and discovery, it succeeds best as a good old-fashioned adventure.
On the DVD: This widescreen presentation positively bulges with extras. A choice of director's commentaries means that you can hear Randal Kaiser (who had previously directed Grease) reminiscing in fine detail with writer Douglas Day Stewart, and both Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. Some might think this overkill for a non-landmark film, but the discussions are genuinely interesting. The film was clearly a formative experience in Shields' adolescent career --she has also provided an album of personal snapshots as another extra--and it is fascinating to hear her talk about it from her current position as a star of sophisticated television sitcom. The crystal-clear digital remastering and anamorphic stereo picture and sound quality of the main film don't extend to this scratchy, sometimes inaudible documentary. --Piers Ford