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“The Blue Lagoon” is a film that first came out in 1949 and was subsequently remade in 1980 starring a then 14-year-old relative unknown named Brooke Shields and a young male lead named Christopher Atkins. In the year it was released, the film grossed nearly $60 million dollars in North America and was ranked 9th out of all films released that year in terms of box office ticket sales.
“The Blue Lagoon” caused a stir on many levels, first and foremost for the shocking amount of nudity and sensuality that it displayed – a phenomenon that is all too common in movies today, but was less so in the year of its release. In fact, the United States later conducted a congressional hearing to determine that the 14-year-old Shields was not exposed to anything indecent or improper during her time on the movie set (it was determined that she had not been). Shields, at that time, stated that during her own topless scenes, her hair was actually secured to her chest with glue and that for the scenes where nudity was required, body doubles were used. However, the film earned its R rating fair and square, which no doubt has lent strength to its continuing appeal over the years – as well as the advent of a new sequel, the relatively squeaky clean “Blue Lagoon: The Awakening,” coming out in 2012.
Many film fans saw “The Blue Lagoon,” heard that it was filmed on Fiji and wanted to travel to Fiji to experience the tropical paradise for themselves. But often there is confusion among tourists arriving in Fiji about where exactly to go to see where the filming took place, as well as how much of the film accurately depicts what Fiji is really like.
The truth is that the filming took place in three different locations, only one of which was in Fiji. The Fiji location was on the small island of Nanuya Levu, a name which translates to mean “Turtle Island.” Nanuya Levu is the place where much of the movie was shot, but the blue lagoon scenes were shot in Champagne Bay, which is part of a volcanic archipelago located in the Republic of Vanuata in the South Pacific. The remainder of the film was shot in various locations in Jamaica, which of course is another popular vacation destination in its own right and partly has the film to thank for it as well.
While most people travel to Fiji so they have a firsthand experience of the natural beauty depicted in the movie “The Blue Lagoon,” some travel as well to see a creature that was unknown to scientists before the film was released. That creature is the Fiji crested iguana or Brachylophus vitiensis, a green creature named and identified by herpetologist John Gibbons in 1981 after he saw the iguana in the film and traveled to Fiji to track it down and study it. While the iguana is native to the island of Nanuya Levu, much of the wildlife and plant life featured in the movie were actually taken from different places around the world, so here the filmmakers took liberties for the sake of art.
While in the movie “The Blue Lagoon” Fiji was depicted as just the single small island of Nanuya Levu, in reality Fiji itself is an archipelago of 332 islands, of which just 110 are currently inhabited by people. The archipelago is part of the country of Melanesia in the South Pacific, and you will also find generous and enjoyable helpings of Asian and Indian culture fused into the local culture. There is so much to see and do in the “real” Fiji and in actuality the entirety of the movie, regardless of the three locations used, revolves around a young couple’s experience as lived within one small area of a small deserted island. In reality, your time in Fiji is likely to be full to overflowing with tours, city life, visits to traditional plantations, the beach, water sports, hiking, a wealth of museums and shopping opportunities, delicious cuisine, visiting volcanic islands and much more.
You certainly can choose to simply park yourself in one of Fiji’s many beautiful “blue lagoons” and sit and relax, but if you want to see and do everything that Fiji has to offer, you will have a great variety of fun options for each day.
Image by Charles McCain from Flickr’s Creative Commons
Martie Markovich is a film buff, plain and simple. She writes for various film blogs.