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THE BEACH

About the Production

When Alex Garland's novel The Beach was published in 1996 it garnered impressive reviews. The New York Times Book Review called it "absorbing" and "a genuine page turner." Booklist said it was an "intensely imagined tale ... a wholly original and unsettling depiction of psyches shaped by the bewildering messages of ‘Loony Tunes,' ‘Apocalypse Now,' Nintendo and the age-old cult of oblivion."

But it was a friend's recommendation that grabbed Danny Boyle's interest. "I was mesmerized by my friend's description of the island and its secret community," recalls the director of "Trainspotting" and "Shallow Grave." "Like the story itself, the book's success lies in people passing the word onto each other," Boyle continues. "We were keen to distance the film from Lord of the Flies, which The Beach has been unfairly compared to. Alex's novel is a wonderful parable of modern life – that nature isn't something we can just waltz into and develop to our taste.

"The film certainly isn't about primitivism. The inhabitants of the island occupy a very sophisticated and developed world. And the violence comes not from some primal urge, but from the highly sophisticated stimuli we surround ourselves with, even in a tropical paradise."

The story's examination of the notion of paradise was another draw. "Searching for paradise is ingrained in many of our psyches," notes Boyle. "But the problem with paradise is that it's exclusive by nature. The characters who live at what they think is paradise – the beach – don't want anyone else coming and spoiling the land. They want it to remain exclusive. And inevitably when they are threatened by new arrivals, they'll do anything, even resort to violence, to protect paradise; that's one of the ironies of the story."

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