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Read the book, OR watch the film....
on 18 November 2006
... just don't do both, or you may find yourself very dissapointed, as myself and many other reviewers have found. The Beach is a hard film to review. Afterall, do you realate it to the best-selling novel? Or do you talk about it in Hollywood terms? I tried to look at it from both angles...
Thankfully, I read the reviews here on Amazon, so I already had the idea that this would have elements of Hollywood in it. What I didn't realise was the scale of it. Upon starting the film, everything seems in place I guess - Richard out on the town, and then staying the hotel. However, 1 hour 55 minutes just isn't enough time, and it shows as the character development is rushed. And before you know it, the three travellers - Richard, Etienne, and Francoise are in agreement to go to the beach, yet they haven't even exchanged conservations previously... (apart from Francoise helping Richard open his door, and exchange names). The choice of Richard - that being Leo' DiCaprio also shows to have an affect on the book, as the meeting with Zeph and Sammy doesn't have the same effect, as they don't see him as they stereotypical english person.
The travel to the island is also brings out the Hollywood side, as Leo =D= (its easier to type!) shows his shouting and swearing side that is completely unesscary, as the character Richard wasn't really an eccentric perosn as the film makes him out to be. And i'm afraid to say that much of the 'Beach Life' is varied to that of the book. The romance in the book that saw Francoise and Richard have feelings for each other, yet kept them hidden, is re-written. Instead, the producers felt they had to literally 'fall' for each other - the result being them snogging in the sea, and then having sex after.. completely un-nessecary, and not part of Richards true character. And neither is his dialogue, as he goes for the usual cheesy lines "oh man I love her so much, I wish I could talk french" blah blah blah.
The merging of Jed and Sal as one character was risky, and doesn't do justice. I felt the choice of actor was wrong, and the merging of the characters meant she (the final character is Sal.. but with Jeds actions..hmm) has to go on the rice run with Richard. What happens afetr? They end up having more sex. This then turns out to be one of the hot-points of th break up with characters, unlike the book were it was a combination of things. Missing out things like the food poisoning was a blow too, as that was a big event in the camp.
The film ends with the camp breaking up through the guards discovery of the huts. But I won't spoil this 'dramatic' finale to the film. But to be fair, the final scene back in homeland was very well done.
SO, how about the other angle? You've never read the book, and therefore know nothing about the story? Chances are, you'll really love the film. The soundtrack is fantastic on the beach, with the likes of Moby-Porcelain, and All Saints' Pure Shores, which both make the hairs stand on end - just made for island. And on that note, the island is quite breathtaking - white sand, clear waters, lovely jungles - you name it. The development of Richards 'video game' attitute to life is also noted fairly well too. As in the book, he has an adventerous attitude that makes him want to explore, to try things. And one of the things behind his interest in the dope field guards (though not really mentioned in the film for some reason...) is Daffy, who treats it like Vietnam. The 'video game' scene is really well done, and i'm suprised it was included. But its a novelty, as not many films would try it. But as Richard see's death and blood in the real, he discovers its not like anything he imagined, and is captured well as he runs away.
Well, thats the basis of the film from the 2 angles. Anyone who's read the novel will know just how absorbing and imaginative it is. Therefore, all I can say is read the book, and you will see what really is 'THE BEACH'.