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Friday, May 7, 2021

The Blue Lagoon (1980)

Set in the Victorian era, after an explosion destroys the ship they were sailing on, the ship's cook (Leo McKern) and two children (Glenn Kohan, Elva Josephson) adrift on a lifeboat eventually find a desert island. After the cook dies, the children (now morphed into Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields) are left to fend for themselves. Based on the 1908 novel by Henry De Vere Stacpoole and directed by Randal Kleiser (GREASE). Stacpoole's book had previously been filmed in 1923 and 1949 with Jean Simmons in Shields role. Savaged by the critics when released, it was a big hit at the box office spawning a sequel. While it's clear that Kleiser is attempting a look at how two children are growing up naturally and without societal taboos and their innocence in worldly matters, there's still an uncomfortable salaciousness permeating the movie. Atkins was 17 and Shields was 14 and the copious amounts of sexuality and nudity border on exploitation though both had body doubles for many of the scenes. It would take a more artful director than Kleiser to eliminate the titillation aspect of it. But it's a desert island romantic fantasy, not a serious examination of the subject. On the plus side, there's the stunning Oscar nominated cinematography by the great Nestor Almendros (DAYS OF HEAVEN) and a beautiful underscore by Basil Poledouris (CONAN THE BARBARIAN). With William Daniels and Alan Hopgood.  

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