The Beach (film)

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The Beach
The Beach film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Danny Boyle
Produced by Andrew Macdonald
Screenplay by John Hodge
Based on The Beach 
by Alex Garland
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio
Virginie Ledoyen
Guillaume Canet
Robert Carlyle
Tilda Swinton
Paterson Joseph
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
John Cale
Brian Eno
Cinematography Darius Khondji
Edited by Masahiro Hirakubo
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • 11 February 2000 (2000-02-11)
Running time 115 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
French
Swedish
Thai
Croatian
Budget $50 million
Box office $154,056,873

The Beach is a 2000 adventure drama film directed by Danny Boyle and based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Alex Garland, which was adapted for the film by John Hodge. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and features Tilda Swinton, Robert Carlyle, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet, and Paterson Joseph. It was filmed on the Thai island Koh Phi Phi.

Plot[edit]

Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio), an American college student in Southeast Asia for the summer, goes to Thailand with the intention of experiencing something radically different from his familiar life. He meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle), a Scottish traveler who is crazy and rants on about a beach paradise on a secret island and the parasites of civilization. Daffy later commits suicide but leaves Richard a map to the island, convincing him that it exists.

Richard meets a French couple, Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and her boyfriend, Étienne (Guillaume Canet), and persuades them to accompany him to the island, partly out of an infatuation with Françoise. They travel from Bangkok to the shores of Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, where Richard befriends a pair of American surfers. They talk excitedly about the myth of the beach and how it has an almost unlimited supply of marijuana. Richard does not admit his knowledge, but copies his map and slides it under their door the next morning.

To finally reach the island, Richard, Françoise and Étienne must swim across to it. When they first arrive on the island, they come across an enormous marijuana plantation guarded by local farmers armed with AK-47 assault rifles. They manage to evade detection. After jumping off a high cliff and landing in a lake below, they are seen by Keaty (Paterson Joseph), who takes them to the beach community. They are cautiously interrogated by the island's leader Sal (Tilda Swinton) regarding their knowledge of the island, but are accepted. The trio are introduced to everybody and over the next few days go on to become integrated into the community.

One night while Richard and Françoise are walking down the beach, she tells him that she is falling in love with him. They swim out into the ocean to look at a swarm of bioluminescent plankton, where Françoise kisses Richard and has passionate sex with him on the beach. Despite their attempts to keep the romance a secret, the whole island finds out about it, including Étienne. Although devastated, Étienne says he will not stand in their way if Francoise is happier with Richard.

At first the island and its community seem to live up to their idyllic reputation. Richard swims out into the ocean to catch fish with a harpoon and is attacked by a young mako shark, but he stabs it to death with a knife, which gains him much admiration. Events take a turn for the worse when Richard is chosen to accompany Sal to the mainland to acquire supplies, where Richard is inadvertently reunited with the American surfers who are preparing to go to the beach with two girls. Sal overhears their conversation about the copy of the map and confronts Richard, who admits his guilt. In exchange for Sal's silence and Richard's return to the island, Sal blackmails Richard into having sex with her that night.

When they return to the island, everything returns to normal until two of the Swedish fishermen named Sten (Magnus Lindgren) and Christo (Staffan Kihlbom) are attacked by a shark while fishing in the ocean. Sten dies almost immediately and Christo is severely injured. The only options for Christo are to go to the mainland to get medical help or stay on the island and take his chances. Christo chooses to stay, not wanting to go near the water after his encounter with the shark, but Sal refuses to allow a doctor to come to the island. Christo's condition worsens, consistently lowering the morale of the whole community, so they take him out into the middle of the jungle and leave him to die. However, Étienne, disgusted by the group's decision, vows to stay with Christo.

Later, Sal observes the American surfers on the neighboring island and assigns Richard the task of watching them so he can obtain the map and destroy it. While he is waiting for the surfers to arrive, Françoise shows up, furious and heartbroken, saying that Sal has told everybody about her affair with Richard at Koh Phangan. Richard cannot cope with his task and retreats into the forest where he becomes temporarily insane, believing that he is communing with the long-dead Daffy, and by this point declaiming (in voice over narration) "the longer I'm away from the others, the less I miss them". He evades the other islanders and sets lethal traps in an attempt to keep them at bay, at times hallucinating that he is a character in a video game. Richard also sneaks near the sleeping marijuana farmers and tampers with their guns.

Meanwhile, the surfers reach the island but are discovered and killed by the marijuana farmers before they can get to the beach. Richard witnesses their executions and runs to evade getting caught by the farmers. After escaping from the farmers, Richard retreats to the community to convince Étienne and Françoise to leave the island, believing that all their lives are now in danger. Étienne refuses, not wanting to leave the emaciated Christo, whose leg has become gangrenous. When the other two briefly leave the tent, Richard tearfully smothers Christo to death in a mercy killing. When he leaves the tent however, he is struck across the face by a farmer and knocked unconscious.

Of course you could never forget what we have done, but we adapt. We carry on. And me? I still believe in paradise. But now at least I'll know it's not some place you can look for because it's not where you go, it's how you feel for a moment in your life when you're a part of something. And if you find that moment.....it lasts forever.

Richard's monologue at the end of the film

You realize that, in the eternity of space, there's probably a planet out there, right... just like this one... where another you is photographing back down towards us. I mean, essentially, you are photographing yourself in a parallel universe. I mean there are infinite worlds out there, you know? Where anything you want to happen... does happen.

Richard's quotation when trying to seduce Françoise

He wakes up in a tent in pain, surrounded by the community and the farmers. The farmers approach Sal, with whom they had an agreement where the lead farmer (Abhijati 'Meuk' Jusakul) gives her a gun loaded with a single bullet and an ultimatum: shoot Richard dead and be allowed to stay, or leave the island forever. Sal approaches Richard angry that he ruined everything and fires an empty chamber, throwing the crowd into chaos. The lead farmer smiles as the community instantly disintegrates. Sal collapses in a flood of tears, as the crowd, now in hysterics, flees en masse to get away from the island. Together, they swim back to the mainland and go their separate ways.

The film ends with Richard stopping by an internet cafe to check his e-mail. He receives a message from Françoise entitled "beach life" which contains a photograph of the beach community and an animated handwritten inscription over the image: 'Parallel Universe. Love, Françoise x'.

Cast[edit]

The paradise location, Maya bay in Ko Phi Phi Lee.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Richard, a college student
  • Tilda Swinton as Sal, the leader of the island's colony.
  • Robert Carlyle as Daffy, a Scottish traveler that Richard meets.
  • Virginie Ledoyen as Françoise, the girlfriend of Étienne who befriends Richard.
  • Guillaume Canet as Étienne, the boyfriend of Françoise who befriends Richard.
  • Paterson Joseph as Keaty, a member of the island's colony who believes in Christianity and cricket.
  • Lars Arentz-Hansen as Bugs, Sal's boyfriend who serves as the carpenter.
  • Peter Youngblood Hills as Zeph
  • Jerry Swindall as Sammy
  • Zelda Tinska as Sonja
  • Victoria Smurfit as Weathergirl
  • Daniel Caltagirone as Unhygienix, the island colony's residential chef that has an obsession with soap since he often cleans himself after cooking something.
  • Peter Gevisser as Gregorio
  • Lidija Zovkic as Mirjana
  • Samuel Gough as Guitarman
  • Staffan Kihlbom as Christo, the fisherman of the island's colony.
  • Jukka Hiltunen as Karl, the fisherman of the island's colony.
  • Magnus Lindgren as Sten, the fisherman of the island's colony.
  • Abhijati 'Meuk' Jusakul as Senior Farmer, the leader of the marijuana plantation.
  • Luke Parker as Goat Herder
  • Emma Renae Griffiths as Waitress
  • Sanya 'Gai' Cheunjit as Farmer
  • Kaneung 'Nueng' Kenia as Farmer
  • Somchai Santitarangkul as Farmer
  • Seng Kawee as Farmer
  • Somkuan 'Kuan' Siroun as Farmer

Differences from the novel[edit]

There were some parts of the film that are different from the novel version:

  • Richard is British and Sal is American in the novel.
  • Richard's obsession with war and video games is explained a bit more in the novel.
  • Keaty is not obsessed with his Game Boy in the film.
  • Richard never sleeps with Françoise despite having feelings for her, which he thinks are reciprocated, saying that he considers Étienne a good guy and would not want to do that to him.
  • Richard never sleeps with Sal, nor is it Sal who accompanies him to the mainland for supplies, but rather a character called Jed (who patrols the island's perimeter) who does not appear in the film. In the book, Jed is the person who leads Richard, Etienne and Françoise to the community, not Keaty.
  • The part where Keaty catching a dead squid that gave some of it's inhabitants food poisoning is not in the film.
  • Karl escaping from the island in the beach community's main boat was not in the film.
  • The ending is different from the book where the book version had Richard, Françoise, Étienne, Keaty, and Jed attempting to escape from the now crumbling community. In the book's epilogue after their successful escape, they move into their respective lives. Richard loses touch with Étienne and Françoise yet finds it hard to be totally freed of the effects of his experiences in that "parallel universe".

Production[edit]

Ewan McGregor was cast as the main character before leaving due to disputes with the director. It was speculated that Boyle was offered additional funding under the condition that DiCaprio be cast and his character made American.[citation needed]

Real-life drama unfurled on set one day when the cast and crew were involved in a boating accident during production. It was reported that the incident involved both Boyle and DiCaprio. No one was injured.[1][2]

The beach seen in the film is not the same as in real life. There is a gap between mountains on the actual beach in Thailand. The special effects crew digitally added some of the surrounding mountains during the post-production phase. The actual beach was also transformed from its natural look. It is reported that crew members flattened the beach with a tractor, much to the locals' dismay. The Tsunami of 2004, however, has reshaped the beach to its natural look.[3]

Boyle has been cited saying that the look of the jungle scenes in the film was inspired by the Rare/Nintendo game Banjo-Kazooie.[4]

The waterfall scene, where DiCaprio and others jump from a high cliff to the water below, was filmed in Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand, at the Haew Suwat Waterfall.

The map in the film was illustrated by the author of the book that The Beach was based upon, Alex Garland. He received credit for this as the cartographer.

Ko Phi Phi Leh

Controversy[edit]

Controversy arose during the making of the film due to 20th Century Fox's bulldozing and landscaping of the natural beach setting of Ko Phi Phi Lee to make it more "paradise-like". The production altered some sand dunes and cleared some coconut trees and grass to widen the beach. Fox set aside a fund to reconstruct and return the beach to its natural state; however, lawsuits were filed by environmentalists who believed the damage to the ecosystem was permanent and restoration attempts had failed.[5] Following shooting of the film, there was a clear flat area at one end of the beach that was created artificially with an odd layout of trees which were never rectified, and the entire area remained damaged from the original state until the Tsunami of 2004.

The lawsuits dragged on for years. In 2006, Thailand's Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling that the filming had harmed the environment and ordered that damage assessments be made. Defendants in the case included 20th Century Fox and some Thai government officials.[6]

After the film premiered in Thailand in 2000, some Thai politicians were upset at the way Thailand was depicted in the film and called for it to be banned. The depiction of the drug culture was said to give Thailand a bad image and having a statue of Buddha in a bar was cited as "blasphemous".[7]

Soundtrack[edit]

The Beach: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released 21 February 2000
Genre Electronica, ambient, rock, Britpop
Length 76:53
Label Sire
Producer Pete Tong
Danny Boyle film soundtrack chronology
A Life Less Ordinary
(1997)
The Beach
(2000)
28 Days Later
(2002)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link

The soundtrack for the film features "8 Ball" by Underworld, as well as tracks by Orbital, Moby, Blur, New Order, Sugar Ray, Faithless, Leftfield, and others. The songs "Synasthasia" by Junkie XL, "Out of Control" by The Chemical Brothers, "Fiesta Conga" by Movin' Melodies, "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley, "Neon Reprise" by Lunatic Calm and "Smoke Two Joints" by Chris Kay and Michael Kay were also included in the movie but omitted from the soundtrack. The All Saints song "Pure Shores" topped the UK Singles Chart. The soundtrack was co-produced by Pete Tong.

The film score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti, and a separate album containing selections of his score was released as well.

Track listing:

  1. "Snakeblood" (composed by Neil Barnes and Paul Daley; performed by Leftfield) – 5:39
  2. "Pure Shores" (composed by William Orbit and Shaznay Lewis; performed by All Saints) – 4:24
  3. "Porcelain" (composed and performed by Moby) – 3:58
  4. "Voices" (composed by Stephen Spencer, Paul Geoffrey Spencer & Scott Rosser; performed by Dario G featuring Vanessa Quinones) – 5:19
  5. "8 Ball" (composed by Rick Smith, Karl Hyde and Darren Emerson; performed by Underworld) – 8:51
  6. "Spinning Away" (composed by Brian Eno and John Cale; performed by Sugar Ray) – 4:24
  7. "Return of Django" (composed by Lee "Scratch" Perry; performed by Asian Dub Foundation featuring Harry Beckett and Simon de Souza) – 4:17
  8. "On Your Own (Crouch End Broadway Mix)" (composed and performed by Blur) – 3:32
  9. "Yé ké yé ké (Hardfloor Edit)" (composed and performed by Mory Kante; remix by Hardfloor) – 3:55
  10. "Woozy" (composed and performed by Faithless) – 7:53
  11. "Richard, It's Business as Usual" (composed and performed by Barry Adamson) – 4:17
  12. "Brutal" (composed and performed by New Order) – 4:49
  13. "Lonely Soul" (composed by Richard Ashcroft, Wil Malone & J. Davis; performed by UNKLE featuring Richard Ashcroft) – 8:53
  14. "Beached" (composed by Angelo Badalamenti; performed by Orbital and Angelo Badalamenti) – 6:45

Release[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The film was popular though largely panned by critics. It has only a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critical consensus being that the film is "unfocused and muddled, [and] a shallow adaptation of the novel it is based on" although it contains "gorgeous cinematography";[8] despite this, it maintains a score of 43/100 on Metacritic.[9]

DiCaprio's fame post-Titanic seemed to help the success of this film, which came out less than three years after the James Cameron blockbuster. CNN's Paul Clinton said "Leonardo DiCaprio's main fan base of screaming adolescent girls won't be disappointed with The Beach. The majority of the film displays the titanic-size young heartthrob sans his shirt in this story about the pseudo-angst and alienation of a young man from the United States escaping civilization and his computer-obsessed generation." He agreed with most others that The Beach was "nothing to write home about". DiCaprio was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actor for his work on the film.

The budget of the film was $US50 million. Global takings totaled just over $US144 million, of which $US39 million was from the USA.[10]

Home video[edit]

The film has been released on VHS and DVD. The standard DVD release included nine scenes that were deleted from the movie, including an alternative ending which to a degree resembles the one in the novel, were later included in a Special Edition DVD release, along with Danny Boyle's commentary on what might have been their purpose. There is also an alternative ending which depicts Sal committing suicide and everyone loading up on a boat from the raft.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ The Beach (2000) Trivia. IMDB.com
  2. ^ Reddit AMA with Tilda Swinton
  3. ^ The Beach (2000) Trivia. IMDB.com
  4. ^ The Beach (2000) Trivia. IMDB.com
  5. ^ Vidal, John. October 29, 1999. DiCaprio film-makers face storm over paradise lost, The Guardian, retrieved via ThaiStudents.com on December 3, 2006.
  6. ^ The Nation, December 1, 2006. Filming 'damaged beach' (retrieved on December 3, 2006).
  7. ^ BBC, 9 March 2000. Thai MPs call for Beach ban (retrieved on December 3, 2000).
  8. ^ "The Beach". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  9. ^ "Beach, The". MetaCritic. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  10. ^ "The Beach (2000)". Box Office Mojo. 2002-08-28. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 

External links[edit]