|The Blue Lagoon|
|Directed by||Frank Launder|
|Produced by||Sidney Gilliat|
Henry De Vere Stacpoole
|Music by||Clifton Parker|
|Edited by||Thelma Connell|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors (UK)|
Universal Pictures (US)
|1 October 1949|
The Blue Lagoon is a 1949 British romance and adventure film produced and directed by Frank Launder and starring Jean Simmons and Donald Houston. The screenplay was adapted by John Baines, Michael Hogan and Frank Launder from the novel The Blue Lagoon by Henry De Vere Stacpoole. The original music score was composed by Clifton Parker and the cinematography was by Geoffrey Unsworth.
The film tells the story of two young children shipwrecked on a tropical island paradise in the South Pacific. Emotional feelings and physical changes arise as they grow to maturity and fall in love. The film has major thematic similarities to the Biblical account about Adam and Eve.
In 1841, 8-year-old Emmeline Foster and 10-year-old Michael Reynolds, two British children, are the survivors of a shipwreck in the South Pacific. After days afloat, they are marooned on a lush tropical island in the company of kindly old sailor Paddy Button. Eventually, Paddy dies in a drunken binge, leaving Emmeline and Michael alone with each other. They survive solely on their resourcefulness and the bounty of their remote paradise.
Eight years later, in 1849, the now-adult couple live together in the island paradise, fish, and collect "beads" from the shellfish in the surrounding lagoon. One day a ship arrives carrying Doctor Murdoch and James Carter, two British men who, it is intimated, have fled as criminals from civilization. Surprised to find the couple on the island, Doctor Murdoch soon realizes that Michael collects valuable pearls without knowing their true worth. While Murdoch attempts to trick Michael into getting him a bounty of pearls, Carter tries to kidnap Emmeline and escape. Murdoch and Carter kill each other on the boat, and Michael and Emmeline vow to never attempt to leave the island again. They marry, and during a tropical storm a child, Paddy, is born.
In 1852, 3 years later, Emmeline is reminded of the outside world and wants to leave the island. She fears for their child if she and Michael should die. Michael gives in to her pleading and they pack a small boat and leave the island. But becalmed in mid-ocean, they succumb to exposure. They are found by a British ship, but the film leaves their fate ambiguous, showing only that Paddy remains alive in the small boat.
|Jean Simmons||Emmaline Foster|
|Donald Houston||Michael Reynolds|
|Susan Stranks||Emmaline (younger)|
|Peter Rudolph Jones||Michael (younger)|
|Noel Purcell||Paddy Button|
|James Hayter||Dr. Murdock|
|Cyril Cusack||James Carter|
|Nora Nicholson||Mrs. Stannard|
|Maurice Denham||Ship's Captain|
|Philip Stainton||Mr. Ansty|
|Patrick Barr||Second Mate|
|John Boxer||Nick Corbett|
Background and production
The film was an adaptation of a novel which had been filmed in 1923.
However, he did not make the film and sold them to Gainsborough Pictures at the recommendation of Frank Launder, who always admired the novel. Gainsborough announced the film in 1938 as part of a slate of 10 films. The stars were to be Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood who had just appeared in Gainsborough's The Lady Vanishes; Will Fyffe was to co-star. In 1939 it was announced Gainsborough would make the film as a co-production with 20th Century Fox and that Lockwood would co-star with Richard Greene, under contract to Fox. Plans to make the film were postponed due to the war.
Plans to make the film were postponed due to Britain's currency difficulties, but eventually plans were re-activated.
Changes from novel
The evil traders were invented for this film and are not part of the novel.
Donald Houston was selected as the male lead over 5,000 applicants, 100 of whom were screen-tested.
Simmons left England in November, spent some time in Australia and then travelled to Fiji. There was some doubt she would be let into Fiji, as she was only 18 and the Fijian colonial regime was contemplating a ban on people under 19 into the country as a precaution against polio being introduced.
Huston and Simmons narrowly escaped injury in Fiji when their car overturned.
The Blue Lagoon was the seventh most popular film at the British box office in 1949. According to Kinematograph Weekly the 'biggest winner' at the box office in 1949 Britain was The Third Man with "runners up" being Johnny Belinda, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Paleface, Scott of the Antarctic, The Blue Lagoon, Maytime in Mayfair, Easter Parade, Red River and You Can't Sleep Here.
Other versions and sequel
- The film was remade in 1980 starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. The updated version of The Blue Lagoon, directed by Randal Kleiser, included nudity and sexual content, although not as much as the book.
- The updated version was followed in 1991 by the sequel Return to the Blue Lagoon, starring Milla Jovovich and Brian Krause. Although the sequel bears a strong similarity to the 1980 film, it bears very little resemblance to Stacpoole's second novel, The Garden of God. The pearl-greedy traders do not appear in Stacpoole's original novel. However, in Stacpoole's third novel, The Gates of Morning, a pair of sailors attack the people of a nearby island for pearls after seeing a woman wearing a double pearl hair ornament, as Emmaline does in the 1949 film.
- A "contemporary remake" of The Blue Lagoon was made for television in 2012. Called Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, it depicts two contemporary teenagers (played by Indiana Evans (Emmaline Robinson) and Brenton Thwaites (Dean McCullen)). The male lead from the 1980 film, Christopher Atkins, appears in this film as one of the teachers on the shipborne field trip where Emma and Dean are lost at sea and end up on an island.
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