Five Plot Point Breakdown: The Blue Lagoon (1980)

Screenplay Genre: Drama/Teen film
Movie Time: 104 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

Richard (Glenn Kohan) and Emmeline (Elva Josephson) Lestrange are two young children living in the Victorian age. They are sailing the South Pacific seas when a fire breaks out on their ship. Richard and Emmeline, along with the ship’s cook Paddy (Leo McKern), seek refuge in a lifeboat. A massive wall of thick smoke envelops the sinking ship and the trio become separated from Arthur (William Daniels), Richard’s father, and the rest of the crew. While drifting on the ocean, they discover an island that appears to be uninhabited. Their safety is guaranteed, for now. (00:10:15)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

While on a drunken binge, Paddy inexplicably dies. When Richard and Emmeline discover his body, they are horrified to see a bug crawling out of Paddy’s mouth. Emmeline faints. With no adults to supervise them, Richard and Emmeline must fend for themselves. The stakes have risen. They will have to learn to tame the wild island in order to muster their own survival. (00:25:33)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

Richard (Christopher Atkins) and Emmeline (Brooke Shields) have grown and blossomed into young teenagers. A sexual awakening awaits them, but for now, Richard and Emmeline have made a comfortable life for themselves on their tropical island. But they long for the world they have left behind.

They have built a cluster of logs to serve as a signal fire in case a ship passes by. One day, a ship appears. It carries Arthur, unbeknownst to Richard who spots the ship from atop a palm tree. Emmeline sees the ship too, but hesitates. Richard comes running onto the beach, yelling to Emmeline to light the fire, but it is too late. The ship has passed. Richard is steamed. An opportunity to leave the island has slipped through their fingers. (00:54:32)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Richard and Emmeline have discovered the joys of sex. Time, and puberty, has caught up to them. The result of their newfound love is a newborn baby, whom they name Paddy. Richard and Emmeline have adapted to their roles as parents. One day, while playing in the mud on the beach with Richard and Emmeline, Paddy utters the word “boat”. Richard and Emmeline look up and see a ship on the water.

But, unlike last time, Richard does not leave the beach enraged. Instead, he walks away, holding Emmeline’s hand while carrying Paddy. (01:31:26)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

Emmeline and Paddy are drifting in their lifeboat in the shallow waters off the island. Paddy knocks one of the two oars off the boat. Emmeline calls out to Richard, who comes to her aid. He swims out to the boat, but suddenly a shark appears.

Richard swims hurriedly towards safety to the boat. In desperation, Emmeline throws the second oar at the shark, buying Richard just enough time to climb into the boat. He is safe, but he, Emmeline, and Paddy are stuck. They have no way to get back to shore. Wind and the uncompromising forces of gravity pull them further away from the island. After eating the never-wake-up berries, the ones the elder Paddy had told them would kill them, they go to sleep, unaware that they will soon be discovered, still alive, by Arthur and his crew. (01:36:55)


 

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