Last week I acquired a fairly large sum of vouchers for WHSmith, and decided to treaat myself. They were doing one of those offers "3 DVDs for £18" was this one. Well I pounced on Spiderman and Spiderman II without a second thought, then had to choose a third. My friend got the only The Last Samuri left, so I grabbed The Beach. I vaguely remembered it being advertised a few years ago, and thought it might be worth a shot.
What I expected to see was a cross between Castaway and The Blue Lagoon with a suitable mix of post-modern pseudo-philosophy. It was not what I expected.
This was more a new-generation re-hash of Lord of the Flies mixed in with the hedonistic party-culture of the modern backpacking thrill seeker. An intersting film.
Spoilers from here.
The bit I want to focus on happens around 2-thirds in. Two of the party-lovers on "The Beach" are attacked by sharks whislt swimming. The residents of the Beach have a strict policy about the outside world, so if he wanted medical attention, the guy would have to be taken to the mainland... they would NOT allow medics onto the island. Being attacked by a shark made the guy fear water, so he refused to go. (the other guy was left to die, by the way).
A scene follows called "die quickly or get better". As the health of the man wanned, the residents became more and more dispondant that he was putting a downer on them and that they couldn't have fun while he was around. Eventually, they stick him in a tent in the forest and leave him. Only one of the islanders stays with him.
The main protagonist, Richard (Leonardo di Caprio), says "our actions would be easier to condemn if they hadn't worked. But they did... out of sight really was out of mind." The islanders, with no semblance of guilt, go back to their partying and dope-smoking.
Eventually, Richard's conscience and sensibilities return, but in many ways it is too late.
What is interesting about the story is the blatant disregard for others shown by those seeking the "ultimate adventure." There is very little conscience shown by the islanders until it is too late and things really start to hit the fan for them.
It's certainly an interesting insight into the human condition. Perhaps, to a far more credible and less exaggerated extent, we too put our own fulfilment before others at times. I think this film wants to tell us to change.