'The Blue Lagoon' Was Highly Scandalous In The '80s — And Even More So Now!Some movies from the 1980s haven't held up well over time. Then there is 'The Blue Lagoon,' a romance survivalist drama which challenged the censors. This inspired a discussion about child pornography.
1980s was a terrible time to be sexy. It wasn't the problematic Porky's sex harassing women, the Sixteen Candles or Revenge of the Nerds would have been there to rape them. The 1980 version of The Blue Lagoon has gotten worse.
The film is based on Henry De Vere Stacpoole’s 1908 novel. It tells the story about two kids who find themselves on an island deserted. They begin to experiment sexually with one another as they grow up into teens. The Blue Lagoon, as well as the four other movies based on Stacpoole's original book (The Blue Lagoon (1923), The Blue Lagoon (1949), Return to the Blue Lagoon, and Blue Lagoon: The Awakening), has been billed as a movie about teenagers discovering themselves and falling in love. Randal Kleiser, however, didn't leave that legacy.
The director of Grease cast an 18-year old Christopher Atkins as the lead and Brooke Shields, shockingly young. Shields was just 14 when she appeared in the film. The Blue Lagoon was not cute about its explicit sexual storyline. Many scenes in the film feature Emmeline (Shields), Richard (Atkins), and their naked bodies. Full-frontal nudity is a common theme. There are several scenes of sex and masturbation. All of these risqué moments combined to give The Blue Lagoon an R-rating, something that Kleiser vocally opposed.
In her podcast You must remember this, Karina Longworth highlighted it. Longworth said, "This film is something you could take your kids to." She was quoting Kleiser from '1982 Teen Sexploitation: Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Porky’s and The Blue Lagoon. (Erotic 80s part 5). "I have done some things on Starsky, Hutch which were much more offensive.
It was taken steps to ensure that The Blue Lagoon wasn't classified as child pornography. The movie does however take liberties in this tightrope. For her nude scenes, Shields was in fact assisted by body doubles. Valerie Taylor was 30 years old at the time. This casting choice asks viewers imagine a woman as a child and has them double for her nude scenes.
Shield's casting was another factor. There was never a reason for Kleiser to cast an underage actor in movie with such a mature plot and themes. Shields had an extensive history of movies that sexualize children before this film. When she was just 12, Shields starred as a child prostitute in The Blue Lagoon. She also acted alongside Louis Malle's screenwriter Polly Platt in Pretty Baby. This controversial, nudity-laden movie starred a child prostitute who was the same age of her character in New Orleans' red light district. Critics rejected the claim that Pretty Baby was perverse despite its subject matter. Roger Ebert, a legendary critic, wrote that "it looks soberly and with a lot of compassion at its period in history and those who occupied it," in 1978.
It doesn't matter if this film was morally unacceptable or smartly criticizing how girls are sexualized unfairly. The public saw Shields as being associated with child nudity, pornography and child nudity when she appeared in The Blue Lagoon. This reputation would last when Shields took Calvin Klein photos. One of the most famous advertisements she did was featuring a 15-year old Shields commenting, "You know what's in between me and your Calvins?" Nothing.' It's nothing.
These are just a few of many details about Shields' questionable casting. Longworth has more information in This. This movie's controversy also fails to mention the fact that Shields was a cousin of Atkins. Profits were the main focus. The combination of the film's controversial panning and the scandal led to greater public attention.
The Blue Lagoon made a staggering $58 million, despite having a $4.5 million budget. It was one of the highest-grossing films in the country, earning $58 million against its $4.5 million budget.
Shields wrote about her time in this area of her life in her memoir There Was A Little Girl: My Mother and Me. She credits her work with keeping her sane while dealing with her mother's addiction. It was an interesting disconnect. It's like you become less sensitive to sexual contact. Shields explained that she uses a glue gun to tape her hair and do other things so it doesn't look like I have boobs in Blue Lagoon. I wasn't aware I was doing this because I was still a child. My mom was with me in the cocoon.
Even though we know that the movie did not seem to do much harm to Shields' reputation, it is still hard to watch. In case you're wondering which Netflix movie was the most controversial, this is it.