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 dates
  • 11 February 2000 (2000-02-11)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[1]
Box office $144.1 million[1]

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, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet, Robert Carlyle, Tilda Swinton, and Paterson Joseph. It was filmed on the Thai island Koh Phi Phi.


Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a geeky twenty-four year old American man with a love of world travel. He arrives in Bangkok, Thailand in search of freedom and adventure. At his guesthouse, he briefly meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle), a mentally-disturbed British traveler who tells him of a pristine island in the Gulf of Thailand, uninhabited and forbidden, on which there lies a beautiful hidden beach and lagoon - walled in by cliffs and untouched by the tourist industry. He explains in vague terms that he settled there in secret with a group of others, but that difficulties arose and he chose to leave. Later, Richard finds a hand-drawn map showing the island's location left for him. He then enters Daffy's room to find him dead by suicide.

Richard meets a French woman named Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and her laid back boyfriend Étienne (Guillaume Canet). He persuades them to accompany him to the island, partly out of an attraction to Françoise. They travel from Bangkok to the shores of Ko Samui in the Gulf where Richard befriends a pair of American surfers. They too have heard the myth of the beach and talk excitedly of how it supposedly has a huge crop of natural-growing marijuana. Richard feigns ignorance, but the next morning decides to copy the map and slide it under their door before he leaves.

Richard, Françoise and Etienne are dropped off in the island's archipelago and swim a couple of miles to reach the island from its neighbor. When they first arrive, they come across an enormous marijuana plantation guarded by Thai farmers armed with AK-47 assault rifles. They barely 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 which consists of around 30 backpackers who live self-sufficiently through everyday tasks such as gardening and fishing. They are cautiously interrogated by the island's charismatic leader Sal (Tilda Swinton), a strict but kind woman, regarding their knowledge of the island, who explains that they guard their secret carefully because if word spread of the beach's location travelers would descend en masse and ruin it. The community must also avoid angering the weed farmers who don't mind the community's current presence but insist that no more travelers may come, and that the current members must stay on their own side of the island. Eager to fit in, Richard lies that they have shown the map to no-one, which satisfies Sal. The trio are introduced to everybody and over the next few days go on to become integrated into the community and its hedonistic lifestyle.

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 makes love with him. Despite their attempts to keep the romance a secret, the whole island finds out about it, including Étienne. Although heartbroken, Étienne says he will not stand in their way if Françoise is happier with Richard.

For a time, the island and Richard seem to live up to their idyllic reputation. Richard swims out into the lagoon to fish with a harpoon and is attacked by a young mako shark. He stabs it to death with a knife, which gains him much admiration from the others - apart from Sal's boyfriend Bugs (Lars Arentz-Hansen) who insults and mocks him due to the small size of the shark. Soon after when Richard is chosen to accompany Sal to the mainland to acquire supplies due to his knowledgeable mindset and independent personality, Bugs threatens him and warns him not to touch Sal. During the trip to Koh Phangan, Richard is inadvertently reunited with the American surfers who are preparing to go in search of the island with two girls. Sal overhears their conversation about the copy of the map and confronts Richard, who only partially admits his lies, still insisting that the surfers don't have their own copy. In exchange for Sal's silence and Richard's return to the island, Sal blackmails Richard into having sex with her that evening.

When they return to the island, things return to normal until two of the Swedes, 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. Sal refuses to risk compromising the island's secret by bringing medical help and insists that his options are to go to a hospital on the mainland via the supply boat 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. His condition worsens despite attempts to care for him, his constant moans of pain lowering the morale of the group, so they take him out into the jungle and leave him to die. Only Étienne objects to this, expressing his disgust with the others and vowing to stay with Christo.

Later, Sal observes that the surfers and two females have arrived on the neighboring island and are camping while they gradually construct a raft to cross, exposing Richard's lie. Furious, she assigns him the task of watching them day and night from the hill in order to intercept them when they arrive, obtain the map and destroy it. While he is waiting, Françoise shows up, angry and heartbroken, saying that Sal has told everybody about how she and Richard had sex at Koh Phangan. Richard cannot cope with his task and retreats into the forest, where over the next few days, due to lack of food and low blood pressure, he begins to lose his sanity, believing that he is communing with the long-dead Daffy.

He stalks the marijuana farmers, playing at being a soldier, at times hallucinating that he is a character in a video game and declaiming (in voice over narration) "The longer I'm away from the community, the less I miss them". Keaty discovers him hiding in a storeroom and expresses his fears that Richard is becoming unhinged in the same way Daffy did, but cannot make him snap out of it. Richard later creeps into the farmers' camp at night and points a rifle at the sleeping leader. He cannot bring himself to pull the trigger, so he replaces the weapon and sneaks out again.

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 lasts forever.

Richard's monologue at the end of the film

Meanwhile, the surfers reach the island but are discovered and killed by the farmers before they can get to the beach. Richard witnesses their executions and runs to evade getting caught by the farmers. After escaping, Richard finds that he has regained some sense of reality and 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 suffocates Christo in a mercy killing. When he leaves the tent however, he is struck across the face by a farmer and knocked unconscious.

He wakes up in a tent in pain, surrounded by the community and the farmers. The farmers approach Sal, with whom they made the agreement, and 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, shocking the group with her willingness to commit murder. Richard in relief of fear, smiles as the community instantly disintegrates. Sal collapses in a flood of tears as the group, now in hysterics, flees the room. Together, most of them swim back to the mainland and go their separate ways, leaving Sal and possibly some others behind.

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".


  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Richard, a college student
  • Virginie Ledoyen as Françoise, the girlfriend of Étienne who befriends Richard.
  • Guillaume Canet as Étienne, the boyfriend of Françoise who befriends Richard.
  • Robert Carlyle as Daffy, a Scottish traveler that Richard meets.
  • Tilda Swinton as Sal, the leader of the island's colony.
  • 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, a member of the island colony that assists Richard in the fishing detail.
  • 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
  • Hélène de Fougerolles as Beach Community Member
  • 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.
  • Ella (who works for Unhygienix), Jean (the leader of the gardening detail), Cassie (who works for Bugs), Jesse (who works in the gardening detail), Moshe (the head of the second fishing detail), and the two unnamed Yugoslavian girls (who work for Moshe) do not appear in the film.
  • The part where Keaty catches a dead squid that gives some of the island'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's, which 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."
  • Richard never received an e-mail from Françoise with a picture after their farewell.


The paradise location, Maya bay in Ko Phi Phi Lee.
Ko Phi Phi Leh

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.[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.[citation needed]

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

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.


Damage to filming location[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.[3] 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 was 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.[4]

Portrayal of Thailand[edit]

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".[5]


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
The Beach
28 Days Later
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link

The soundtrack for the film, co-produced by Pete Tong, features the international hits "Pure Shores" by All Saints and "Porcelain" by Moby, as well as tracks by New Order, Blur, Underworld, Orbital, Faithless, Sugar Ray, and others. Leftfield's contribution to the soundtrack, "Snakeblood", was found to have sampled Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "Almost" without permission, leading to a lawsuit; band member Neil Barnes said he forgot to remove the sample from the finished track.[6] 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 teaser trailer for the film featured "Touched" by VAST.

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


Critical response[edit]

Though the film was commercially successful it was largely panned by critics. It has a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 116 reviews, 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";[7] despite this, it maintains a score of 43/100 on Metacritic, based on 34 reviews.[8]

Critics suggested that DiCaprio's fame post-Titanic might have contributed to the financial 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-sized 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 US$50 million. Global takings totaled over US$144 million, of which US$39 million was from the USA.[9]

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 opening 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]


  1. ^ a b "The Beach". Box Office Mojo. 
  2. ^ Reddit AMA with Tilda Swinton
  3. ^ Vidal, John. October 29, 1999. DiCaprio film-makers face storm over paradise lost, The Guardian, retrieved via on December 3, 2006.
  4. ^ The Nation, December 1, 2006. Filming 'damaged beach' (retrieved on December 3, 2006).
  5. ^ BBC, 9 March 2000. Thai MPs call for Beach ban (retrieved on December 3, 2000).
  6. ^ "One half of Leftfield, Neil Barnes, tells why he can't wait to give Rockness a blast of the coolest sounds down memory lane". The Scotsman. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "The Beach". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  8. ^ "Beach, The". MetaCritic. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  9. ^ "The Beach (2000)". Box Office Mojo. 2002-08-28. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 

External links[edit]