Film Review: The Beach

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Ok ok I know ‘ugh she’s doing a review of The Beach what an obvious choice’. But what kind of travel blog would this be if I didn’t mention this cult classic, this inspiration for travellers anywhere, this icon?! You’re just going to have to deal with it, sorry. Also Leonardo DiCaprio, I don’t think I need to say anything more.

The film is directed by Danny Boyle, and is adapted from the book by Alex Garland. It stars Leo as Richard, an American traveller who travels to Thailand in search of something different and more exciting than his day to day life and discovers a secret beach, a paradise with a community of other like minded travellers. But to keep it a secret they have to go to deadly lengths.

I’ve actually read the book as well as the film but since it was a long time ago I’m going to leave a book review until later on when I’ve had a chance to re-read it. I’m a fan of both in their different ways but I do feel like if the ending of the film matched up to the ending of the book I would not have been able to watch the film!!!

One of my favourite aspects of the film is probably the sound track, I still listen to some of the songs and they’re on a few of my favourite playlists. All Saints – Pure Shores is probably the best one on there and the scene where it’s used is just dreamy!

So there’s a reason I want to look at this film and to be honest this isn’t so much a review as a thematic pondering. I re-watched it again last night and what struck me most was the theme of how humans are ‘parasites’. That’s right, if you consider it, it’s absolutely spot on. You watch the film with the scenes of travellers partying on Thai Islands, think of the full moon parties for example. Think about how they’ve destroyed local culture, the environment and peace of the residents. Their home is no longer a place for them to live, it’s a dense over populated destination for good-time seekers.

And yet, if you want to travel the world, if you want to see more and you want to feel enlightened you have to essentially become a parasite yourself. How much damage you cause as a parasite is of course up to you. But Richard is right in the film, they look for the next new thing, the untouched paradise and they swarm and they spoil it.

This may sound depressing, and yes it’s a dilemma that I have myself. I’m desperate to travel and experience new things but I know I’m not the only one, there are thousands of people that want to do the same. The only comfort I can give myself, and sometimes even that’s not enough is that I’m trying to be different, I’m trying to think twice about how my enjoyment is going to impact others negatively, and I acknowledge that I won’t always get it right.

Travelling can become a selfish pursuit, it can become a competition. Who has visited the biggest list of countries? Who had the craziest night out? Who can get the coolest photo next to a drugged up wild animal? Who has the coolest story to tell?

Sometimes it’s worth sitting back and thinking about why you’re travelling in the first place. Travel doesn’t have to be so destructive and disrespectful. It’s a beautiful thing that travelling makes you more open minded to different cultures and ways of life and the more we think about hem while we travel the better we can protect them for travellers to come.

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