David BruceHere is a film that explores the inner desire to return to Paradise in all of us. To be young and innocent again. Unfortunately, the evil serpent always awaits.
-Review by David Bruce

This page was created on February 11, 2000
This page was last updated on May 22, 2005
Directed by Danny Boyle
Writing credits: Alex Garland (novel) and John Hodge
Leonardo DiCaprio as Richard
Tilda Swinton as Sal
Virginie Ledoyen as Françoise
Guillaume Canet as Étienne
Staffan Kihlbom as Christo
Robert Carlyle as Daffy
Magnus Lindgren as Sten
Victoria Smurfit as Weather Girl

Produced by Andrew Macdonald, Callum McDougall (co-producer)
Original music by Angelo Badalamenti
Cinematography by Darius Khondji
Film Editing by Masahiro Hirakubo

Rated R for violence, some strong sexuality, language and drug content.

Innocence never lasts forever.
An American sets off on an exotic adventure in Thailand in search of "The Beach," a legendary tropical paradise free of conventional society's problems. But when he finds the modern day Eden, he learns that it hides more than a few disturbing secrets.

Bulletin Board:

Subject: Leonardo the Serpent
Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2000
From: Glenn Jordan

Just a further comment to add to C J Evans. Richard's first new experience in a foreign country was of course to drink the blood of a serpent, marking him out from the start. One other thing that intrigues me was that their final step of entry into the new community was via the water. A form of baptism perhaps?
Glenn Jordan

Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2000
From: Dickson

In Gisborne, NEW ZEALAND on a Thursday morning you can have a personal showing of a recent release movie for $9.50 Believe me, I did. Actually the only reason I went to see The Beach was because Robert Carlyle (Riff Raff, Carla's Song, Hamish MacBeth etc) was billed as appearing, and without his disturbing, menacing presence this film would be considerably more limp than it already is.

Kind of. Basically, a grand looking young American (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes to Thailand to taste the wild things, meets a crazed Scot (played by Carlyle) who provides a hand scrawled map to a 'deserted island' paradise. DiCaprio, enlisting a gorgeous young French couple as companions, makes for the island and various adventures in 'paradise' ensue. A small international community of backpackers has carved out a life amongst the waterfalls and swaying palms.

We are expected to believe that a maniacal group of dope growing Thai bandits allow them half the island to gallivant about - so long as they "don't tell anyone else about the place". In between games of Donkey Kong and cups of herbal tea, the bronzed beauties practise scarification, spear fish and play cricket. Lord of the Flys meets Blue Lagoon.

Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) utilises a rather ham fisted voice over narration to assure us that our protagonist actually does have an inner life (a kind of GenX homage to Apocalypse Now). For me the one crucial observation, and a central redeeming truth for this film was the observation he makes that "at the perfect beach resort even death couldn't be permitted to get in the way of pleasure". Travel as the avoidance of boredom? Utopia as the avoidance of death? These central questions make this film, in the hands of skilful and well prepared facilitators, a potentially useful tool or discussion point for groups (be warned: the film contains sex, violence and drug use). Like it or not, movies like this are shaping the worldviews of countless young people.

Though the film lacks sustained tension, suffers flabby editing, relies too much on a good soundtrack for effect and has some unbelievably trite observations on 'life', it's also - at times - visually stunning, occasionally amusing and cleverly shot. What's most interesting about the film is that in its attempts to reflect loads of 'Globalised' backpacker culture it reminds one of how little there is new under the sunshine of a perfect tropical sky (to paraphrase Ecclesiastes).

It got me thinking about how good the Good News is to the relentlessly unsatisfied western youth culture - crudely but effectively dissected in the movie. And the challenge of communicating the liberty of Jesus to them. Listen out for the exceptionally well timed Unkle song lyric "God knows your lonely soul..." at the closing credits. Now how'd that get in there!
John Dickson

Subject: Leonardo as the serpent.
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000
From: "C.J.Evans"

The most intresting element of this movie, was to me, the role played by Richard (Leonardo Di Caprio) in the fall of the community. He arrives on the island wearing a t-shirt with the title 'el-diablo' (The Devil!) And it is his actions which represent most clearly the role of the serpent in Eden (For example as a visitng tourist comes running from out of the marijuana field chased by a gaurd, Richard appears and 'hisses' at her, consequently she delays and is shot by the gaurd.) As the agent of the fall it is also Richard who kills Christo (not very subtle!) and introduces death to the commune. Surprisingly Richard is not aware of this role. Is he an unwitting satan, like Judas, a 'puppet betrayer'?
(Feel free to publish my adress.)
Response: You are brillant. Thank you for your insight. I think you are very right. -David.

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