The Blue Lagoon (1949 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Blue Lagoon
Lobby card
Directed by Frank Launder
Produced by Sidney Gilliat
Frank Launder
Written by Novel:
Henry De Vere Stacpoole
John Baines
Michael Hogan
Frank Launder
Starring Jean Simmons
Donald Houston
Noel Purcell
James Hayter
Cyril Cusack
Music by Clifton Parker
Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Thelma Connell
Distributed by General Film Distributors (UK)
Universal Pictures (USA)
Release date
1 October 1949 (1949-10-01)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Blue Lagoon is a 1949 British romance and adventure film produced and directed by Frank Launder, 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 the late Victorian period, 1891, Emmeline Foster and 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 all alone with each other. Together, they survive solely on their resourcefulness, and the bounty of their remote paradise.

8 Years later, Emmeline and Michael become tanned, athletic and nubile young adults. Eventually, their relationship, more along the lines of brother and sister in their youth, blossoms into love, and then passion. Emmeline and Michael have a baby boy, and they live together as common-law husband and wife, content in their solitude. But their marriage is threatened by the arrival of two evil traders, who force the child to dive for pearls at gunpoint, before killing each other off.

Emmeline is reminded of the outside world and wants to leave the island. She fears for the child if she and Michael should die, and begins to think of his future. Michael finally gives in to her pleading and they pack a small boat and leave the island. But becalmed in the middle of the ocean, they succumb to exposure. They are found by a British ship, but the film leaves their fate ambiguous.


Actor Role
Jean Simmons Emmeline Foster
Donald Houston Michael Reynolds
Susan Stranks Emmeline (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
Lyn Evans Trotter
Russell Waters Craggs
John Boxer Nick Corbett
Bill Raymond Marsden

Background and production[edit]

  • The film was a remake of a black and white silent film shot in the United Kingdom in 1923, not long after the publication of the Henry De Vere Stacpoole novel on which it was based. The 1923 version was directed by W. Bowden and Dick Cruickshanks, starring Molly Adair and Dick Cruickshanks.
  • Donald Houston was selected over 5,000 applicants, 100 of whom were screen tested.[1]
  • The evil traders were invented for this film and are not part of the novel.
  • The film was shot on location in Fiji, Yasawa Islands,[2] and at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England.


The film was the seventh most popular movie at the British box office in 1949.[3]

Other versions and sequel[edit]

  • The film was remade in 1980 starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. The updated version of The Blue Lagoon, directed by Randal Kleiser, was much closer to the spirit of the novel for it 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 sequel, The Garden of God. The pearl-greedy traders do not appear in Stacpoole's original novel. However, in Stacpoole's third book, 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 Emmeline 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 ship-borne field trip where Emma and Dean are lost at sea and end up on an island. This film is available on DVD.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FILM FLASH CABLE.". The Sunday Times. Perth: National Library of Australia. 21 December 1947. p. 12 Supplement: The Sunday Times MAGAZINE. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Jean Simmons Goes Native", cover story, Illustrated magazine 15 January 1949
  3. ^ "TOPS AT HOME.". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 31 December 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 

External links[edit]