Danny Boyle : The Beach, the beach hollywood

Danny Boyle : The Beach, la plage hollywoodienne

Yet a new article of Squizzz on the filmography of Danny Boyle. Today he tackles his first work as a american who has not made unanimously. I let you discover his chronicle and wish you a very good read.

The first (and only real) foray Boyle in the universe of the big productions will not be made in the best hospices. More expected as the return of DiCaprio at the cinema after the phenomenon of “Titanic” and preceded by a huge hype, “The Beach” will most rapidly undergo a severe downside. Critical little acclaim, controversy ecological, fans of the director who is too wise, teenage girls who drool in front of Leo but can’t find the film quite conventional… But in terms of the number of constraints that have to be imposed, Boyle succeeds a blockbuster smartphone that is off the beaten path, and which bears a clear imprint. And then he has surely enabled a number of movie-goers of my generation to discover a producer outside the norm, so for that alone…


Made in Hollywood

If Boyle has managed to put his trademark on ” The Beach “, you can’t deny that it has been hindered by the policy of the major american studios. The main example is the imposition of DiCaprio in the role of Richard, to the detriment of Ewan McGregor, the event that will be at the origin of a conflict which still opposed the actor and the director. There is also this desire to make the main character an american, where he was English in the novel, even if this change works pretty well, in the light of the idea of globalisation and the shadow of the Vietnam War hovering over the film. Moreover, the film does vehicle not necessarily a good image of the United States, including through the tourists to whom Richard leaves a map, the portrait is not nuanced like the book Garland. Even though in its realisation Boyle leaves sometimes go to elks major scenes in hollywood (see the sequence of love between Richard and Francis, on which we will return later), he does not hesitate to make fun of the big american productions in the scene where Richard dredge the frenchie Françoise, on a background of starry sky, which is a direct counterpart to the love scene above.

Even on the plan of the scenario, Boyle and Hodge have not had too sanitise the purpose of Garland, if not the realization of the love between Richard and Francis (whose platonism is, however, more interesting in the novel), or a final good more soft (but that would have probably turned to the grand guignol if it had been transposed to the letter). All in all, the film is a very good adaptation of the book, it simplifies cleverly by limiting the number of characters and storylines to develop in less than two hours the multiple themes reflected in the almost five hundred pages of the novel.



The first shot in the film shows DiCaprio has a bus stop, that could be from any city, and then a slow dolly side unveils the statue of a deity thai. This first plan shows the duality of the city, between tradition and openness to globalization and tourism exacerbated. This opposition continues in the sequel of the description of the city, between walking on Khao San Road, street, tourist, and the passage through the bars prohibited where they drink the blood of a snake. Boyle succeeded in a few minutes to immerse the viewer in the heart of Bangkok and Thailand, tourists. In parallel he develops the portrait of her main character, Richard, suffocated by this city and its tourists. The photography is dark, the plans are most often nocturnal and illuminated by neon light aggressive. The mounting is quite dynamic and the music of Leftfield accentuate even more the feeling of oppression of the character.

The evocation of the beach will then sound like the way to escape a dream and the unexpected. It appears as such when the story of Daffy, as if it was Richard who imagined these plans air lulled of clouds, such as an image of paradise. And this despite the obvious cues of danger to come as the character of Daffy and the sequence of his suicide, a murky, almost surreal. There also appears to be one of the main traits of Richard’s character, who tends to take life in a way unreal, like a game. A game in which he did not hesitate to begin to find the hidden treasure at the end.


The quest

When the trio embarks on the quest of the island, the light becomes much more solar, and music full of hope. The thread of the shark appears for the first time, in the form of a joke, showing the state of mind of the characters, quite offhand and sure of themselves, mocking the danger. However, it is present, because the paradise has to be earned. Travellers should, therefore, pass through various tests before it reaches.

The first will be that of the field of cannabis where the trap seems to close in on them, in the image of this travelling fast between the rows of planting, which ends with a closeup on the characters, who find themselves as locked in. The second will be the cascade, of which the discovery is made by a plan in a mini-chopper following the thread of the water. The plan camera to the shoulder dive from the top of the waterfall and the plan crane that goes up from below to bring a side staggering to the stage.

There are natural barriers to the achievement of the beach, but this paradise is also jealously guarded by the members of the community. Evidenced by a set of plans from below through the vegetation like an eye that observes the arrival of the three backpackers. The sequence of the cascade ends by a flagship plan rather evocative, showing the three backpackers who come to jump, with the foreground and back, Keaty, a member of the community, such as the keeper of the gate of paradise. This concept becomes much clearer, when in the last part of the film it is Richard’s responsibility to repel the visitors.


A sensual paradise

The community of the beach is initially represented as an eden on earth. A garden of eden, where everything seems simple, as the simplicity of the beauty of the place, including some plans on the music enchanting Moby are enough to capture all the grace. A garden of eden, where sensuality is king. First under the guise of a Virginie Ledoyen who has managed to keep the power of hypnotizing of the Françoise in the novel. But also in the features of the two male heroes who do not escape to the sequence of affront torsos-naked and sweaty. The culmination of this sensuality is still the sequence of love between Frances and Richard. Of course, it has a very hollywood, with its play of phosphorescence and its background music which is nothing other than the tube, pop of the time (namely, at All Saints in 2000). But on this night american tour under a blazing sun, gives a special atmosphere to the scene, which makes its small effect.


The beginning of the end

Yet the range is perhaps not the paradise we expected. Two sequence shows the limits of eden, which can come both from the inside and the outside. The first is the pulling of a tooth in rule in the absence of the dentist (we note in passing the plan on Sal lying in the position of a divinity, showing the place it wants to occupy in the community). The second is the attack of Richard the shark. However, in both cases, these situations are quickly relegated to the status of anecdotes. The first ends with a drink and a joint. The second, if it begins with a true thriller, quickly becomes a cliché borne of “jaws” to finish in the exaggeration, Richard, transforming itself into a super-hero.

But the community will quickly realize that they can’t forever play God with nature, and that it will quickly catch up. The third attack of a shark, this time fatal, turns the paradise into a living hell. This time the construction of the stage is reversed compared to the previous. Richard is currently playing at the console, and is made up for by the reality at the same time sounded the ” Game over “. But the biggest atrocity happens subsequently, through foreclosure by the community of Christ, wounded and dying. The “paradise” so has a price, that of humanity.


It’s over Now

The preservation of the paradise also passes through the up-regulation of the arrival of foreigners, a task that is going to be a Richard, sinking slowly into madness to force to be carried away by the contradictions of the island. The last part of the film exacerbates the main traits of the character, cut off from reality and having a desire for domination. Fed to video games and films on the Vietnam war, Richard literally dives into his ultimate fantasy.

These two themes are already appearing several times in the film (importance of the Game boy, the sequence of the shark… for the first one ; the projection of ” Apocalypse Now “, the scene of the boat… for the second one), but become ubiquitous in the last part. The wanderings of Richard in the jungle are filmed like a military mission, the guardians of the field of cannabis is likened to the Vietcong, not to mention the multiplication of weapons. About the universe of video games, we can only quote the sequence filmed as such. But there is also this universe, in the manufacture of the traps in the forest, or in the back of Daffy, as if Richard was the hero of the game and that it was Daffy who was holding mannette. The assimilation of the two characters is made clear in the course of a sequence, where the two faces merge together to kick field/counter-field, before Daffy does literally Richard.

The return to reality is going to do to Richard when shooting in the field of cannabis. The photograph is more realistic, with a camera on the shoulder. The splash of blood on the face of the hero sign his return to consciousness, even as the pause in close up on his face in the middle of the mad rush that follows the scene.

The destiny of the beach will it be played behind closed doors in the large check, giving a certain tension to the scene, even if this sense of imprisonment does not seem to offer another loophole that the final end of the community.


Parallel universe

Boyle and Hodge chose to end the film by a plan of a map of the world “computer,” which opens on to a cyber-cafe. End at the same time very ironic, but at the same time realistic enough. Richard, the backpacker, in the quest for the absolute, is to be found behind a computer screen, but a computer that might have more humanity than its eden past, because it is open to the whole world. “The Paradise is not a place that one can look for. This is not the place that counts, it is what one feels at the moment when one reaches “. Well said !


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