In 1949 Jean Simmons and David Houston starred in The Blue Lagoon as the victims of a shipwreck who grow up in each other’s company on a romantic desert island. 31 years later producer-director Randal Kleiser remade their story but with Brooke Shields and handsome newcomer Christopher Atkins as the children of nature.
The result was a visually stunning commercial for the natural life in which – taking full advantage of the cinema’s new permissiveness – there was a great deal of sex talk and nudity.
Emmeline (Shields) and Richard (Atkins) are shipwrecked on a Pacific island paradise with the ship’s cook, Paddy (Leo McKern). He teaches them the art of survival but dies when they are still young, leaving them to fend for themselves.
Together they build an idyllic lifestyle, but at the onset of adolescence, both become aware of their emerging sexuality. Managing to be both explicit and coy at the same time, the film concerned itself with the young couple’s sexual awakening and the inevitable consequences thereof.
The fact that costumers on the set glued Shields’ long-haired wig to her breasts so that they wouldn’t show during her topless scenes, and that Shields insisted on (older) body doubles to take her place whenever the script called for her to appear naked (usually underwater) was of no consequence.
Its chief virtues were the attractiveness of its two young players, the gorgeous Fiji-based photography, and the underwater sequences, photographed by famous Australian husband and wife diving team, Ron and Valerie Taylor.
Audiences responded to the film to the hearty tune of $43.6 million at the box office. A misguided 1991 sequel – Return to the Blue Lagoon – starred Milla Jovovich and Brian Krause.