The Beach (2000)
Director: Danny Boyle
The film starts in a dingy hotel room on the notorious backpacker haunt of Koh San Road. Richard is the protagonist, being played by notable actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Here the solo traveller encounters his neighbour whom is staying next door, Daffy. Daffy seems to be a crazy Scot who rambles on about an island paradise that is unheard of. Before he commits suicide he leaves a map for Richard, so he can make the journey there.
‘I just feel like everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same damn thing.’
The film is a book adaptation of Alex Garland’s 1996 novel The Beach. However, the two versions have stark differences. These differences range from Richard nationality being English in the novel but American in the film. To the environment; author Garland wrote about a Philippine island, where as the film is set in Maya Bay, in Thailand. Another point is significant characters being excluded from the screenplay. Most drastic though would be the contrast in endings which I will not elaborate on, at risk of spoiling the plot.
In my opinion, I prefer the book as the storyline is more gripping and poignant. Nevertheless, if you watch the film oblivious to another storyline is it an enjoyable watch that takes you on an adventure to the unknown, with hidden twists appearing along the journey. The films storyline depicts the journey to get to the isolated island, to the finding of the village, through the wild terrain. Its reveals the utopian ideal and how it can get out of hand.
British director Danny Boyle does not disappoint with his depiction of a breath taking visual paradise that leaves the viewer with some serious envy. The soundtrack is one to check out with songs from Moby that compliments the scenery oh so well. Overall it is about a westerner’s quest to find an alternative environment, a different place in which to live that isn’t so predictable and repetitive. It is a must for travel junkies or anyone about to embark on a backpacking trip, especially those who are searching for an unconventional environment. In the end though is it worth the thrill of the unknown?