The Beach (film)

The Beach
The Beach film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDanny Boyle
Produced byAndrew Macdonald
Screenplay byJohn Hodge
Based onThe Beach
by Alex Garland
Music byAngelo Badalamenti
CinematographyDarius Khondji
Edited byMasahiro Hirakubo
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • February 11, 2000 (2000-02-11)
Running time
119 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$50 million[1]
Box office$144.1 million[1]

The Beach is a 2000 adventure drama film directed by Danny Boyle and based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Alex Garland, which was adapted for the film by John Hodge. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet, and Robert Carlyle. It was filmed on the Thai island of Ko Phi Phi Le.

The film was a moderate box office success but received mixed reviews from critics. DiCaprio was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor (lost to John Travolta as Terl from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Battlefield Earth and as Russ Richards in the Paramount Pictures film Lucky Numbers). In spite of that, All Saints's song "Pure Shores" topped the UK charts.


Richard, a young American seeking adventure in Bangkok, stays in a drab travelers' hotel in Khao San Road where he meets a young French couple, Françoise and Étienne, and he immediately becomes attracted to Françoise. He also meets Daffy, who tells him of a pristine, uninhabited and restricted island in the Gulf of Thailand with a beautiful hidden beach and lagoon. Daffy explains that he and other travelers settled there in secret several years earlier, but difficulties arose and he chose to leave. Daffy commits suicide, leaving Richard a map to the island. Richard convinces Françoise and Étienne to accompany him to the island, and the three travel to Ko Samui. After getting locked out of his bungalow during a thunderstorm, Richard meets two American surfers who have heard rumors of the island, including huge amounts of cannabis supposedly growing there. Before departing, Richard leaves them a copy of the map.

En route to the island, Richard becomes infatuated with Françoise. After swimming to the island from a neighboring one, they find a large cannabis plantation guarded by armed Thai farmers. Avoiding detection, they make their way across the island and meet English cricket fan Keatey, who brings them to a fully functioning community of travelers living on the island, totally in secret. Sal, the community's English leader, explains that the farmers allow them to stay so long as they keep to themselves and do not allow any more travelers to come to the island. Richard lies that they have not shown the map to anyone else, which satisfies Sal. The trio become integrated into the largely self-sufficient and leisurely community.

One night, Françoise privately invites Richard to the beach where she tells him that she is falling in love with him and they make love. Despite hoping to keep it secret, the community finds out. While angry, Étienne says he will not stand in their way if Françoise is happier with Richard. Tensions rise between Richard and Sal's South African boyfriend Bugs; when Richard gains popularity by killing a shark, Bugs mocks him over the shark's small size but Richard mocks him back for his jealousy.

When Sal selects Richard to accompany her on a supply run to Ko Pha Ngan, Bugs warns him to keep his hands off her. While there they encounter the American surfers Richard met in Ko Samui, who are preparing to search for the island and mention Richard's map. Richard lies to Sal that he did not give them a copy, and she coaxes him into having sex with her in exchange for her secrecy despite the two having their respective partners. On their return to the island, Richard lies to Françoise about having sex with Sal and continues his relationship with her. Things return to normal until a shark attack kills one of the community's fishermen, Sten, and leaves another, Christo, severely injured. Sal refuses to compromise the community by bringing medical help, and Christo is too traumatized to travel to the mainland by sea. His worsening condition affects the group's morale, so they isolate him in a tent despite Étienne's objections.

When the surfers from Ko Pha Ngan turn up on the neighboring island, Sal furiously orders Richard to observe them until they cross over, then send them away and destroy their map. She also tells everyone that she and Richard had sex, which leaves Françoise angry and heartbroken causing her to return to Étienne. Isolated from the group, Richard begins to lose his sanity, stalking the cannabis farmers, stealing some of their personal items while they sleep, and imagining that he is conversing with the deceased Daffy. The surfers reach the island but are discovered and killed by the farmers. Shocked at witnessing their deaths, Richard tries to gather Françoise and Étienne to leave the island. Étienne refuses to leave Christo, whose leg has become gangrenous, so Richard euthanizes Christo by suffocation.

Richard is captured by the farmers and brought before the community, along with Françoise and Étienne. The farmers are furious with the community for breaking their deal to not allow any more newcomers. The lead farmer gives Sal a gun loaded with a single bullet and orders her to make a choice: kill Richard and the group will be allowed to stay, or else they must all leave immediately. Sal pulls the trigger, but the chamber is empty. Shocked by her willingness to commit murder, the other members of the community abandon Sal, leave the island, and go their separate ways.

Later, back in the United States, Richard receives an email at an Internet cafe from Françoise with a group photograph of the beach community in happier times. The purpose of the email does not suggest Françoise is trying to resurrect her relationship with Richard but rather to suggest nostalgia.


  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Richard, a freelance traveler who is the film's main character
  • Tilda Swinton as Sal, the leader of the beach community
  • Virginie Ledoyen as Françoise, the girlfriend of Étienne, and Richard's love interest
  • Guillaume Canet as Étienne, the boyfriend of Françoise
  • Robert Carlyle as Daffy, the eccentric former member of the beach community
  • Paterson Joseph as Keaty, a member of the beach community who loves cricket
  • Lars Arentz-Hansen as Bugs, Sal's boyfriend and the beach community's carpenter
  • Daniel Caltagirone as Unhygienix, the beach community's chef
  • Staffan Kihlbom, Jukka Hiltunen, and Magnus Lindgren as Christo, Karl, and Sten, the beach community's Swedish fishermen
  • Victoria Smurfit as Weathergirl, a member of the beach community
  • Zelda Tinska and Lidija Zovkić as Sonja and Mirjana, two beach community members who come from Sarajevo
  • Samuel Gough as Guitarman, the beach community's residential guitarist
  • Peter Youngblood Hills and Jerry Swindall as Zeph and Sammy, two Americans whom Richard meets in Ko Samui
  • Saskia Mulder and Simone Huber as Hilda and Eva, two women who accompany Zeph and Sammy to the island and are killed by the farmers
  • Peter Gevisser as Gregorio, an Italian member of the beach community
  • Abhijati 'Meuk' Jusakul as the leader of the cannabis farmers


The paradise location, Maya bay in Ko Phi Phi Lee
Ko Phi Phi Leh

Ewan McGregor was cast as the main character before leaving due to disputes with the director. It was speculated that Boyle was offered additional funding under the condition that DiCaprio be cast and his character made American.[2] Whilst promoting T2 Trainspotting, the dispute was discussed in more depth, with McGregor stating "It was a mis-handling and a mis-understanding over the film and it's a big regret of mine that it went on for so very long... and it didn't matter about The Beach, it was never about that. It was about our friendship. I felt like Danny's actor and it made me a bit rudderless." Boyle stated, "I handled it very very badly and I have apologised to Ewan for it. I felt a great shame about it and how it was handled."[3]

Members of the cast and crew were involved in a boating accident during production. It was reported that the incident involved both Boyle and DiCaprio. No one was injured.[4]

The beach seen in the film is not the same as in real life. There is a gap between mountains on the actual beach in Thailand. The special effects crew digitally added some of the surrounding mountains during the post-production phase.

Boyle has been cited saying that the look of the jungle scenes in the film was inspired by the Nintendo game Banjo-Kazooie.[citation needed]

The waterfall scene, where DiCaprio and others jump from a high cliff to the water below, was filmed in Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand, at the Haew Suwat Waterfall.

The map in the film was illustrated by the author of the book that The Beach was based upon, Alex Garland. He received credit for this as the cartographer.


Damage to filming location

Controversy arose during the making of the film due to 20th Century Fox's bulldozing and landscaping of the natural beach setting of Ko Phi Phi Leh to make it more "paradise-like". The production altered some sand dunes and cleared some coconut trees and grass to widen the beach. Fox set aside a fund to reconstruct and return the beach to its natural state; however, lawsuits were filed by environmentalists who believed the damage to the ecosystem was permanent and restoration attempts had failed.[5] Following shooting of the film, there was a clear flat area at one end of the beach that was created artificially with an odd layout of trees which was never rectified, and the entire area remained damaged from the original state until the tsunami of 2004.

The lawsuits dragged on for years. In 2006, Thailand's Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling that the filming had harmed the environment and ordered that damage assessments be made. Defendants in the case included 20th Century Fox and some Thai government officials.[6]

The large increase in tourist traffic to the beach as a result of the film resulted in environmental damage to the bay and the nearby coral reefs, prompting Thai authorities to close the beach until 2021.[7]

Portrayal of Thailand

After the film premiered in Thailand in 2000, some Thai politicians were upset at the way Thailand was depicted in the film and called for it to be banned. The depiction of the drug culture was said to give Thailand a bad image and having a statue of Buddha in a bar was cited as "blasphemous".[8]


The Beach: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedFebruary 21, 2000
GenreElectronica, ambient, rock, Britpop
ProducerPete Tong
Danny Boyle film soundtrack chronology
A Life Less Ordinary
The Beach: Motion Picture Soundtrack
28 Days Later
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars link

The soundtrack for the film, co-produced by Pete Tong, features the international hits "Pure Shores" by All Saints and "Porcelain" by Moby, as well as tracks by New Order, Blur, Underworld, Orbital, Faithless, Sugar Ray, and others. Leftfield's contribution to the soundtrack, "Snakeblood", was found to have sampled Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "Almost" without permission, leading to a lawsuit; band member Neil Barnes said he forgot to remove the sample from the finished track.[9] The songs "Synasthasia" by Junkie XL, "Out of Control" by The Chemical Brothers, "Fiesta Conga" by Movin' Melodies, "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley, "Neon Reprise" by Lunatic Calm and "Smoke Two Joints" by Chris Kay and Michael Kay were also included in the movie but omitted from the soundtrack. The teaser trailer for the film featured "Touched" by VAST.

The film score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti, and a separate album containing selections of his score was released as well.

Track listing

1."Snakeblood"Neil Barnes, Paul DaleyLeftfield5:39
2."Pure Shores" (from Saints & Sinners, 2000)William Orbit, Shaznay LewisAll Saints4:24
3."Porcelain" (from Play, 1999)MobyMoby3:58
4."Voices" (from Sunmachine, 1998)Stephen Spencer, Paul Geoffrey Spencer, Scott RosserDario G featuring Vanessa Quinones5:19
5."8 Ball"Rick Smith, Karl Hyde, Darren EmersonUnderworld8:51
6."Spinning Away" (originally performed by Brian Eno and John Cale)Brian Eno, John CaleSugar Ray4:24
7."Return of Django" (originally performed by The Upsetters)Lee "Scratch" PerryAsian Dub Foundation featuring Harry Beckett and Simon de Souza4:17
8."On Your Own" (Crouch End Broadway mix)Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, Dave RowntreeBlur3:32
9."Yé ké yé ké" (Hardfloor edit)Mory KanteMory Kante3:55
10."Woozy"Sister Bliss, Maxi Jazz, Rollo ArmstrongFaithless7:53
11."Richard, It's Business as Usual"Barry AdamsonBarry Adamson4:17
12."Brutal"Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Gillian GilbertNew Order4:49
13."Lonely Soul" (from Psyence Fiction, 1998)Richard Ashcroft, Wil Malone, DJ ShadowUnkle featuring Richard Ashcroft8:53
14."Beached"Angelo BadalamentiOrbital and Angelo Badalamenti6:45
Total length:76:53


Region Certification Certified units/sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[10] Gold 7,500^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


The film opened February 11, 2000 in both the United Kingdom and the United States.[11]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 20% based on 117 reviews, and an average rating of 4.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Beach is unfocused and muddled, a shallow adaptation of the novel it is based on. Points go to the gorgeous cinematography, though."[12] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[13]

Critics suggested that DiCaprio's fame post-Titanic might have contributed to the financial success of this film, which came out less than three years after the James Cameron blockbuster. CNN's Paul Clinton said "Leonardo DiCaprio's main fan base of screaming adolescent girls won't be disappointed with The Beach. The majority of the film displays the titanic-sized young heartthrob sans his shirt in this story about the pseudo-angst and alienation of a young man from the United States escaping civilization and his computer-obsessed generation." He agreed with most others that The Beach was "nothing to write home about". DiCaprio was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actor for his work on the film.

The budget of the film was US$50 million. The film opened at number 2 at the box office in both the UK and the US, with a weekend gross of $15,277,921 in the United States and Canada behind Scream 3, and a gross of £2,418,321 in the United Kingdom behind Toy Story 2 .[11] Global takings totaled over US$144 million, of which US$39 million was from the United States and Canada.[14]

Director Boyle spoke negatively of the film, telling a Philadelphia audience in 2017 that he realized halfway through filming that he "didn't like any of the characters."[citation needed]

Home video

The film has been released on VHS and DVD. The standard DVD release included nine scenes that were deleted from the film, including an alternative opening which to an extent resembles the one in the novel, were later included in a Special Edition DVD release, along with Danny Boyle's commentary on what might have been their purpose. There is also an alternative ending which depicts Sal committing suicide and everyone loading up on a boat from the raft.

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Beach". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ "Ewan McGregor discusses why he fell out with Danny Boyle for a decade". The Independent. 2016-05-09. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  3. ^ Ewan McGregor and Danny Boyle didn’t speak for many years – The Graham Norton Show 2017 – BBC One - YouTube
  4. ^ Reddit AMA with Tilda Swinton
  5. ^ Vidal, John. October 29, 1999. DiCaprio film-makers face storm over paradise lost, The Guardian, retrieved on November 03, 2017
  6. ^ "Filming 'damaged beach'". Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  7. ^ Karla Cripps; Kocha Olarn. "Thailand bay made popular by 'The Beach' to remain closed for two more years". CNN. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  8. ^ BBC, March 9, 2000. Thai MPs call for Beach ban (retrieved on December 3, 2000).
  9. ^ "One half of Leftfield, Neil Barnes, tells why he can't wait to give Rockness a blast of the coolest sounds down memory lane". The Scotsman. May 25, 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  10. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Various Artiss – The Beach". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Weekend charts from February 11 to March 6". Film Review. May 2000. p. 17.
  12. ^ "The Beach (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  13. ^ "The Beach reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  14. ^ "The Beach (2000)". Box Office Mojo. 2002-08-28. Retrieved 2011-04-20.

External links

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