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    Blue Freedom

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    Happy Independence Day. The director of Grease enjoyed his personal freedom to pick a passion project following that 1978 musical’s huge success, and Randal Kleiser’s choice was a more scenically gorgeous and more sexually aware adaptation of the 1908 Henry De Vere Stacpoole novel The Blue Lagoon (1980), which opened nationwide 36 years ago over the 4th of July weekend. The ads promised a sensuous story of natural love on an idyllic island between a marooned Victorian-era girl and boy, played by 14-year-old Brooke Shields – already a veteran of R-rated notoriety at age 12 with director Louis Malle’s Pretty Baby (1978) – and screen-debuting 18-year-old Christopher Atkins. Though 1980 already provided two noteworthy R-rated teen-centric examinations of budding sexuality, Foxes (with Jodie Foster) and Little Darlings (with Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol), that were more esteemed by reviewers, The Blue Lagoon would far outstrip them both at the box office ($58 million) and make teen idols of Shields and Atkins for a time. The beauty of the Jamaican and Fiji island locations as captured by Néstor Almendros (soon after his Academy Award®-winning landscape glories of Days of Heaven and striking enough to earn him an Oscar® nomination for his work here) proved a great asset, but the real draw was the countdown to hormonal self-discovery between the two beautiful leads, since a paradisical setting – with a few perilous situations – can take you only so far. In his first of four collaborations with Kleiser (including another vacation-like Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray title, 1982’s Summer Lovers), composer Basil Poledouris captured South Seas-flavored rhythms of youthful exuberance and romantic yearnings. As all these elements were combined, The Blue Lagoon became a fanciful adventure fable, an iconic date movie, a critic-proof guilty pleasure that no sequel or rip-off could ever quite match and emblematic of its era. Adult intrusion was sparse, but Leo McKern as a galley cook initially stranded with the youngsters and William Daniels as the boy’s distraught father searching for them at sea had their moments. But foremost, the film is a celebration of freedom and self-determination that’s not far removed from what we commemorate today. Cast yourself adrift and explore The Blue Lagoon on TT hi-def Blu-ray here: http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/22925/THE-BLUE-LAGOON-1980SPECIAL-PROMOTION/.