The Blue Lagoon (1980)

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Released 22-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Randal Kleiser, Douglas Day Stewart & Brooke Shields
Audio Commentary-Randal Kleiser & Christopher Atkin
Gallery-Photo-Brooke Shields' Photo Album
Featurette-Original Featurette (9:09)
Theatrical Trailer-2:41
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 100:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Randal Kleiser
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Brooke Shields
Christopher Atkins
Leo McKern
William Daniels
Elva Josephson
Glenn Kohan
Case ?
RPI ? Music Basil Poledouris


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.0 L-C-R-S (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

In 1980, when this film was released, there was quite a bit of controversy, most of it ill-founded. There were complaints about incest, but the two children are not brother and sister: Emmeline clearly addresses Arthur Lestrange as Uncle, while Richard calls him Father, so the closest they could be is cousins, and the use of Uncle may have been conventional (indicating guardianship) rather than literal. There were complaints about showing a 14-year-old actress nude, but they used body doubles for all of the nude scenes (Brooke Shields spends some of the commentary pointing which body double was used for which scene).

I'd guess that opinion about this film polarises into about three camps. There are those who are shocked / scandalised (let's hope they don't buy the DVD and be shocked and scandalised all over again). There are those who are titillated by the nudity (such a shock for them to learn that they are looking at a 30-year-old woman, rather than a 14-year-old!). And then there are those who can see past all that to the sweet, innocent love story that the film is really all about.

The plot is fairly straightforward. A man, Arthur Lestrange (William Daniels), is taking two children, Emmeline (Elva Josephson) and Richard (Glenn Kohan), from Boston to San Francisco by sailing ship around the turn of the century (the date is not specified). Because the Panama Canal doesn't exist yet, they must travel right down to the bottom of South America to get around. After rounding the bottom, there's a fire aboard something that is a serious concern, but in this case it is worse, because it is in a hold containing blasting powder, so the passengers are rowed away from the ship. In the confusion, the children are separated from Arthur Lestrange; they end up in a boat with Paddy, the ship's cook (Leo McKern). To make things worse, a heavy fog rolls in, the ship blows up, and they are adrift by themselves.

Luck (and the scriptwriter) is with them, and they awaken within sight of an island. They are very fortunate to discover that this island has fresh water, ample fruit (bananas, papayas, and coconuts, amongst others), and is generally a tropical paradise. Paddy shows them various useful skills, including the construction of a hut, and collection of food, before dying. Now two fairly young children (I'm guessing they are under ten years) are alone. Years pass, and Richard (now Christopher Atkins) and Emmeline (now Brooke Shields) are coping fairly well with the basics of feeding themselves, but they are going through a variety of traumas as their bodies change. Matters like Emmeline's first period are not glossed over it's easy to see how terrifying that could be for a young girl with no idea of what is happening to her. Emotionally, the pair are still children, and they squabble and tease one another just as children do. There are a series of events (nope, I'm not saying what) that split them apart, then bring them back together. Yes, they do learn about sex, and that is also handled sensitively it could have come across as pornographic, but it doesn't, it comes across as tender and caring. The consequences are handled well, too. Bear in mind that these children, back on the ship, were still at the "cabbage patch" stage of sex education...

Providing you have a broad enough mind not to be scandalised by the nudity (which is utterly appropriate to the setting), this is a sweet love story set in a tropical paradise, a study of innocence, with enough drama to add seasoning. Recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio (as discussed on the commentary) was 1.85:1, matted down from a 1.33:1 film frame the video version is open-matte so this was shot using spherical optics.

The image shows slightly variable sharpness, but is generally a little bit soft I'd have thought this was how the film was shot if I didn't have the opportunity to compare it with the Region 1 disc (which offers a noticeably sharper image). There is one out-of-focus shot at 52:45. Shadow detail is limited in darker scenes the film was shot almost entirely with natural light, using reflectors, because large generators for lights weren't practical on the island (the film was shot almost entirely on location on an isolated Fijian island). Film grain is rarely a problem, although we do see traces here and there (47:06 and 78:40, for example). There's no low level noise.

Colour is well-rendered, and vivid (hey, this is tropical sunlight, flowers, birds...). There are no colour-related artefacts, but there is a strange optical effect resulting in a thin blue line down the frame for some seconds around 69:51.

There are some film artefacts, but they are generally small and untroubling. Clearly this print was well cared for over the last twenty odd years.

There's little aliasing, no moire, no shimmer, and no MPEG artefacts. An excellent piece of work in that respect.

There are subtitles in a plethora of languages there are pages of subtitles to choose from, although that fact is not overly obvious from the menu design. Interestingly, both commentaries are subtitled in several languages, but not in English, so our hearing impaired friends are deprived of the commentary unless they read another language that's a shame. I watched the English subtitles, and they are well-timed, easy to read, and about normal in the accuracy stakes.

The disc is single-sided (attractive picture label), RSDL. The layer change is at 59:59. It's not obvious quite a decent effort.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The soundtrack is provided in five languages, with all the non-English soundtracks being Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 kbps. The English is Dolby Digital 4.0 at 448kbps, coded LCRS, meaning that the front soundstage is fully encoded, but the surrounds are given a single track to share.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are no audio sync problems, even though quite a bit of dialogue was looped (the commentaries are rather funny on that subject).

Basil Poledouris provided an excellent score, well-suited to the on-screen happenings. This is a score that enhances the feel of the movie. It was performed by the Australian Symphony Orchestra.

The subwoofer gets nothing to do unless provided with some signal by your amplifier's bass management. The surrounds are used, sparingly, for ambience and score, but there are no significant directional effects. On the other hand, the front of the soundstage shows fine separation.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The menu is easy enough to use, but it's a static image with no sound. I think it's designed for 4:3, but it looks ok in 16:9.

Audio Commentary Randal Kleiser (director / producer), Douglas Day Stewart (screenwriter), Brooke Shields

An excellent, interesting commentary, with good interplay between the commentators. Quite a bit of technical detail, but plenty of human interest, too. Brooke Shields joins the commentary about the time she first appears on-screen. There's an interesting discussion of the underwater photography (shot by Rod and Valerie Taylor). They mention that this film could probably not be made today because of the new rules about the kinds of scenes minors are permitted to act in.

Audio Commentary Randal Kleiser (director / producer), Christopher Atkins

I wasn't expecting too much from this commentary, but it is almost as interesting as the first one. There is some overlap with the first, as you'd expect, but sometimes from a different point of view. It is really worth listening to both commentaries in a short period of time, so you can remember and contrast what is said. I get the impression (not from anything that's said explicitly) that Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins don't get along, and that's why they are on separate commentaries that could be a mistaken impression, though.

Brooke Shields' Photo Album

A total of around 50 images (yeah, I lost count, I think) shot on location. There are some interesting shots, but without captions it's hard to tell the significance of some of the photos.

Original Featurette (9:09)

A short piece, subtitled "An adventure in filmmaking", that's an above-average making of. It offers fairly poor quality video and sound, but contains some interesting information.

Theatrical Trailer (2:41)

An epic trailer, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Filmographies

We get filmographies for:

The Region 1 disc has some short biographical information as well as the filmographies in what it calls Talent Files. There's not a whole heap of difference...

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 version of this movie was released some time ago (the packaging is copyright 1999). It is a double-sided, single layer disc, with a full-frame (open-matte) version on one side, and the widescreen version on the other.

The Region 1 disc is missing:

The Region 4 disc is missing:

In the first commentary, they make mention of being able to see the tape on Brooke Shields' chest in one scene on the open-matte version, and they are right: at 65:54 on the R1 it is quite clear. Other than for that one bit of trivia, the full-frame version is of limited value. However, the R1 transfer is quite noticeably sharper than the R4, even though it is crammed onto a single layer. There are also slightly fewer film artefacts. Shadow detail is no better, but the increased sharpness (not edge enhancement!) makes the shadow detail look better.

I feel compelled to judge the R1 the better disc, but it is not by a huge amount the R4 disc is still quite decent.

Summary

A controversial movie at release, this is now viewed as well-made tale of innocent discovery.

The video quality is fairly good, but the R1 is better.

The audio quality is very good.

The extras are quite interesting, and both commentaries are recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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