ⓘ The Beach (film)

The Beach (film)

ⓘ The Beach (film)

The Beach is a 2000 drama adventure 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, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet, and Robert Carlyle. It was filmed on the Thai island of Ko Phi Le.

The film was a moderate box office success but received mostly negative reviews. DiCaprio was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor lost to John Travolta as Terl from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Battlefield Earth and as Russ Richards in the Paramount Pictures film Lucky Numbers. In spite of that, All Saintss song "Pure Shores" topped the UK charts.


1. Plot

Richard, a young American seeking adventure in Bangkok, stays in a drab travelers hotel in Khao San Road where he meets a young French couple, Françoise and Etienne, and he immediately becomes attracted to Françoise. He also meets the Daffy, who tells him of a pristine, uninhabited and restricted island in the Gulf of Thailand with a beautiful hidden beach and lagoon. Daffy explains that he and other travelers settled there in secret several years earlier, but difficulties arose and he chose to leave. Daffy commits suicide, leaving Richard a map to the island. Richard convinces Françoise and Etienne to accompany him to the island, and the three travel to Ko Samui. After getting locked out of his bungalow during a thunderstorm, Richard meets two American surfers who have heard rumors of the island, including huge amounts of cannabis supposedly growing there. Before departing, Richard leaves them a copy of the map.

En route to the island, Richard becomes infatuated with Françoise. After swimming to the island from a neighboring one, they find a large cannabis plantation guarded by armed Thai farmers. Avoiding detection, they make their way across the island and meet English cricket fan Keatey, who brings them to a fully functioning community of travelers living on the island, totally in secret. Sal, the communitys English leader, explains that the farmers allow them to stay so long as they keep to themselves and do not allow any more travelers to come to the island. Richard lies that they have not shown the map to anyone else, which satisfies Sal. The trio become integrated into the largely self-sufficient and leisurely community.

One night, Françoise privately invites Richard to the beach where she tells him that she is falling in love with him and they make love. Despite hoping to keep it secret, the community finds out. While angry, Etienne says he will not stand in their way if Françoise is happier with Richard. Tensions rise between Richard and Sals South African boyfriend Bugs; when Richard gains popularity by killing a shark, Bugs mocks him over the sharks small size but Richard mocks him back for his jealousy.

When Sal selects Richard to accompany her on a supply run to Ko Pha Ngan, Bugs warns him to keep his hands off her. While there they encounter the American surfers Richard met in Ko Samui, who are preparing to search for the island and mention Richards map. Richard lies to Sal that he did not give them a copy, and she coaxes him into having sex with her in exchange for her secrecy despite the two having their respective partners. On their return to the island, Richard lies to Françoise about having sex with Sal and continues his relationship with her. Things return to normal until a shark attack kills one of the communitys fishermen, Sten, and leaves another, Christo, severely injured. Sal refuses to compromise the community by bringing medical help, and Christo is too traumatized to travel to the mainland by sea. His worsening condition affects the groups morale, so they isolate him in a tent despite Etiennes objections.

When the surfers from Ko Pha Ngan turn up on the neighboring island, Sal furiously orders Richard to observe them until they cross over, then send them away and destroy their map. She also tells everyone that she and Richard had sex, which leaves Françoise angry and heartbroken causing her to return to Etienne. Isolated from the group, Richard begins to lose his sanity, stalking the cannabis farmers, stealing some of their personal items while they sleep, and imagining that he is conversing with the deceased Daffy. The surfers reach the island but are discovered and killed by the farmers. Shocked at witnessing their deaths, Richard tries to gather Françoise and Etienne to leave the island. Etienne refuses to leave Christo, whose leg has become gangrenous, so Richard euthanizes Christo by suffocation.

Richard is captured by the farmers and brought before the community, along with Françoise and Etienne. The farmers are furious with the community for breaking their deal to not allow any more newcomers. The lead farmer gives Sal a gun loaded with a single bullet and orders her to make a choice: kill Richard and the group will be allowed to stay, or else they must all leave immediately. Sal pulls the trigger, but the chamber is empty. Shocked by her willingness to commit murder, the community abandons Sal, leave the island, and go their separate ways.

Later, back in the United States, Richard receives an email at an Internet cafe from Françoise with a group photograph of the beach community in happier times. The purpose of the email does not suggest Françoise is trying to resurrect her relationship with Richard but rather to suggest nostalgia.


2. Cast

  • Tilda Swinton as Sal, the leader of the beach community
  • Robert Carlyle as Daffy, the eccentric former member of the beach community
  • Paterson Joseph as Keaty, a member of the beach community who loves cricket
  • Staffan Kihlbom, Jukka Hiltunen, and Magnus Lindgren as Christo, Karl, and Sten, the beach communitys Swedish fishermen
  • Daniel Caltagirone as Unhygienix, the beach communitys chef
  • Victoria Smurfit as Weathergirl, a member of the beach community
  • Guillaume Canet as Etienne, the boyfriend of Françoise
  • Peter Gevisser as Gregorio, an Italian member of the beach community
  • Samuel Gough as Guitarman, the beach communitys residential guitarist
  • Virginie Ledoyen as Françoise, the girlfriend of Etienne, and Richards love interest
  • Saskia Mulder and Simone Huber as Hilda and Eva, two women who accompany Zeph and Sammy to the island and are killed by the farmers
  • Zelda Tinska and Lidija Zovkic as Sonja and Mirjana, two beach community members who come from Sarajevo
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Richard, a freelance traveler who is the films main character
  • Peter Youngblood Hills and Jerry Swindall as Zeph and Sammy, two Americans whom Richard meets in Ko Samui
  • Abhijati Meuk Jusakul as the leader of the cannabis farmers
  • Lars Arentz-Hansen as Bugs, Sals boyfriend and the beach communitys carpenter

3. Production

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. Whilst promoting T2 Trainspotting, the dispute was discussed in more depth, with McGregor stating "It was a mis-handling and a mis-understanding over the film and its a big regret of mine that it went on for so very long. and it didnt matter about The Beach, it was never about that. It was about our friendship. I felt like Dannys actor and it made me a bit rudderless." Boyle stated, "I handled it very badly and I have apologised to Ewan for it. I felt a great shame about it and how it was handled."

Members of 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.

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.

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

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.


3.1. Production Damage to filming location

Controversy arose during the making of the film due to 20th Century Foxs bulldozing and landscaping of the natural beach setting of Ko Phi Leh 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. 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, Thailands 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.

The large increase in tourist traffic to the beach as a result of the film resulted in environmental damage to the bay and the nearby coral reefs, prompting the Thai authorities to close the beach till 2021.


3.2. Production Portrayal of Thailand

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".


4. Soundtrack

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. Leftfields contribution to the soundtrack, "Snakeblood", was found to have sampled Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Darks "Almost" without permission, leading to a lawsuit; band member Neil Barnes said he forgot to remove the sample from the finished track. 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.


5.1. Release Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 20% based on 117 reviews, and an average rating of 4.4/10. The websites critical consensus reads, The Beach is unfocused and muddled, a shallow adaptation of the novel it is based on. Points go to the gorgeous cinematography, though." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".

Critics suggested that DiCaprios 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. CNNs Paul Clinton said "Leonardo DiCaprios main fan base of screaming adolescent girls wont 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.

Director Boyle has spoken negatively of the film, telling a Philadelphia audience in 2017 that he realized halfway through filming that he "didnt like any of the characters."


5.2. Release Home video

The film has been released on VHS and DVD. The standard DVD release included nine scenes that were deleted from the film, including an alternative opening which to an extent resembles the one in the novel, were later included in a Special Edition DVD release, along with Danny Boyles 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.

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