Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In a cheap guest-house Richard, a young Englishman, meets a mentally disturbed Scotsman by the name of Daffy Duck who leaves him a hand-drawn map of some hidden beach inaccessible to tourists, and then commits suicide. Together with a young French couple, Étienne and Françoise, Richard, who considers himself a lifestyle traveller rather than an ordinary tourist, goes and looks for what he believes must be paradise on earth.
On their way to the beach, Richard gives a copy of the map to Sammy and Zeph, two Americans he meets in Koh Samui. When the group finally reaches the beach - after bribing a local boat contractor, taking a long swim and eventually jumping down a waterfall - they are faced with a tightly-knit self-sufficient community which has almost completely shut itself off from civilization and which has developed a sophisticated hierarchy (or pecking order ) under the quasi-dictatorial rule of a middle-aged American woman called Sal and her lover. Newcomers are basically not welcome but are not sent back either because it would jeopardize the secrecy of the project.
After a few months the two Americans and three Germans arrive at the neighbouring island and Richard moves to the perimeter detail to watch them together with the group's guardian Jed, the only one who knows that Rich spread word about the beach.
Because of a free spot in the fishing detail, one of the community members named Keaty moves in and a few days later catches a dead squid that poisons most of the residents. The day after the food poisoning incident only two of the fishing details are still in operation. One of these, consisting of three Swedes who fish outside the safe lagoon area, is attacked by a shark. One of the fishermen (Sten) dies on the same day and the second (Christo) a few days later. The third (Karl), who was not hurt by the shark, suffers a psychotic breakdown and leaves the beach by the only boat a week later. The wounded Swede requires Jed's presence in the camp and this leaves Richard to work alone on the island.
Being alone on the inner-island, Richard has even more day-dreams in which Daffy - the man who gave him the map - appears, along with hallucinations of being in a DMZ in Vietnam. This comes to a peak following the arrival of the American/German group, who are killed by mercenaries defending their illegal drug stash. Richard watches the entire episode and loses his sense of reality.
Not only Richard goes mad. The other beach dwellers, who forced themselves to return to normal life after the burial of Sten, lose their grip on reality. Petty feuds and disagreements are brewing between the residents, but the upcoming Tet Feast - the Beach's birthday - is supposed to be a turning point. During the festival, however, the mercenaries arrive and leave the dead bodies of the American/German party as a warning. Most of the beach dwellers work themselves into a murderous frenzy from which Richard and a few of his closest friends narrowly escape.
In the end they escape to the mainland. Some lose contact with one another, while Richard stays friendly with some.
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The Beach was also turned into a successful film (2000) directed by Danny Boyle and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen. However, some major changes in the plot were made. The song during the travel sequence is "8 Ball" by Underworld.
Parts of the movie were filmed on Ko Phi Phi Lee, an island of Thailand.
Critiques on The Beach
- "[Garland is a] natural-born storyteller" who "combines an unlikely group of influences - Heart of Darkness, Vietnam war movies, Lord of the Flies, the Super Mario Bros. video game - into ... ambitious, propulsive fiction." (Washington Post).
- "A Lord of the Flies for Generation X" (Nick Hornby)
- "Generation X's first great novel" (Sunday Oregonian).
- List of movies - List of actors - List of directors - List of documentaries - List of Hollywood movie studios
- Tourism in literature
- Lord of the Flies (novel)
- On the Beach
- On the Road
- Official Web Site
- Review and information about Garland
- Interview, review and excerpt
- Source for this article (FDL)
- Environmental campaign against the movie
- The complete reference about the movie, with hundreds of pictures, info about the cast, locations, crew, etc.
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