The Beach


Director: Danny Boyle

Based on the best selling novel by Alex Garland

          Do you ever dream of what paradise is or in fact where it is? Do you ever wish of trying something new or going somewhere that people only dream of? In the movie “the beach,” staring Leonard DiCaprio, it gives you just that. The general perspective of what paradise really is. And the risks you will take to keep it a secret.

          Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Carlyle and new comer, Viriginie Ledoyen star in a tale of adventure, action, drama and seduction. The story follows Richard, a young American backpacker, with a love for video games and Vietnam movies, who is in search of something new. But when Richard traveled to Thailand for a vacation, he never expected it would lead him on such a perilous journey. While at a hotel in Bangkok, he is given a hand drawn map by a madman who calls himself Daffy Duff, played by Robert Carlyle. The map supposedly leads to an island of paradise, which drives Richard to his goal of trying something new. And allows him to take a risk. But before he embarks on his journey, he invites two French travelers, Francoise, played by new comer Virgine Ledoyen and Etienne, played by Guittaume Canet, to join him on his once in a lifetime opportunity.

When they reach the island, they find that they are not alone. As Richard quotes, “It was like we arrived into a lost world, a full-scale community of travelers, not just passing through, but actually living here. I suddenly became aware, that we weren’t even invited.” And decides to stay and take in the experience.

After meeting the leader of the community, Sal, played by Tilda Swinton, they are welcomed in but told that no one else should come, so that the community stays as private as it already is. While in paradise, Richard falls in love with Francoise and begins to enjoy the beach, until he takes a trip with Sale to go stock up on supplies. When Richard and Sal get to Koh Pha Ngan to get supplies, Richard quotes, “In one moment, I understood more clearly than ever, why we so special, why we kept our secret. Because if we didn’t, sooner or later, they’d turn it into this. Cancers, parasites, eating up the whole fucking world.” Later while in Koh Pha Ngan, Sal over hears a group of travelers talking to Richard about a map he had given them. And then at that moment Richard regrets ever giving the other travelers the map and hopes that Sal understands. Later she questions Richard about whether he gave them a “copy” or not. And Richard, being in the situation he is in of course, lies about it because he doesn’t want to get on bad terms with anyone there. He just wants to enjoy the beach in secret like everyone else. After Sal and Richard get back to paradise, Sal finds out that Richard lied about giving out a copy of the map and insists that he stay in the fields, watch them, tell them to leave, and get the map back. While alone in the fields he starts to hallucinate and finds himself thinking more about Daffy. And then realizes that maybe coming to this island and staying as long as they did was not a good idea and that it is time to leave and go back home.  

          I can’t tell you enough on how amazing the scenery was for this movie. And since Thailand has amazing beautiful beaches, the location of where this movie was filmed couldn’t have been any better. It just gave you that feeling of what “heaven on earth” really could be like. And all of the problems and sacrifices that come with the experience. It was “A little slice of heaven,” as I always like to say.  It made me as a viewer want to travel and see other places. And experience what I felt from watching this movie but in person. I don’t think that the concept of paradise could be viewed in any other way than what the director of this movie, Danny Boyle tried and did portray. He made it feel like you were experiencing paradise just like all the travelers were. And that even though you might love being away from reality, that eventually you have to go back and that there are consequences if you don’t.

One of the scenes of when Richard and the French travelers are welcomed to “the beach” and the scenery that is shown is more amazing than any picture could describe. After they are welcomed into the community they are then taken to “the beach.” And the view of it is beyond what anyone could describe. The crystal clear water surrounded by upscale mountains which surround “the beach” in a lagoon. With light tan sand and an abundance of vegetation. It was the perfect setting for paradise. The music playing in the background and everyone’s reaction to how beautiful “the beach” was, was like a breath taking experience like no other. It made me feel as a viewer that if I was in their shoes that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. That I would stay there for the rest of my life, that’s how amazing of a view it really was.        

          Another scene in this movie that was portrayed very well was the shark scene. And the lessen it taught everyone about sacrifice. About being the one person out of the whole community to step up and take charge. The scene starts off with everyone sitting in the sand, on the beach, with the rain pouring down on them. With one of the fisherman, that’s in this small community of “the beach” describing how hard it is to catch fish, their food, with the heavy rain and the bad lighting. He says that sometimes the rain can last for days and sometimes we get really hungry. Then all of a sudden Richard is tired of waiting so unlike everyone else, he takes charge and goes out in the water to catch some fish for dinner. But soon finds out that there are more than just fish out there to catch, there are also sharks. So after his triumph he tells his story. Richard quotes, “Before I start there is just a couple of things you have to remember. Number one you have to remain calm. And number two you have to show no fear. Because the sharks, you see, the sharks, they can sense that fear. Just as easily as they can sense blood. And so it went for me, just as I knew it would, just as nature had ordained. It’s jaw wide open. Row upon row of these razor-sharp teeth, glinting under water like jagged diamonds. Its tail fin sweeping back and forth as it surged in for the kill. I swear to God, my whole life flashed before my eyes. Really. I had nothing left to offer except for pure reflex. Pure reflex and mankind’s basic drive for survival that somehow shouts, “No! I will not die today!” And at that instant man, I knew it was either the shark or me. The shark knew it. I knew it. But it’s nothing personal it’s just the way the world works. Right? It’s nature. But if I remember correctly, in that last glimmer of it’s eyes. There was a moment between us. Where he said, “Hey, Richard, man, enjoy your dinner.””

          Altogether the movie was amazing. The view of the island, paradise, the scenery and how the director made you feel like you were right there with them, experiencing paradise for yourself, was portrayed better than anyone else could have done. And the lessen everyone should learn from it which is, “Paradise is only paradise until others find out about it, then it becomes reality.”