Film Friday: The Beach

Looking for a summer watch recently we settled on revisiting The Beach, a film I’ve loved for a while, along with the book. Richard goes looking for paradise, for a new kind of life, something more beautiful, more exciting… more dangerous…

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It’s not long before he hears about a secret beach on an island off the coast of Thailand, and hooking up with Françoise and Étienne he heads off to find this idyllic place, and the community who live there…

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I have often thought of this as a Prodigal tale, someone leaving home and going hunting for a better life. I thought initially that it would be about Richard and his mates living a debauched existence on booze and drugs. But that is not really the case. They find a peaceful community with an organised way of life and a work ethic. Appreciating the privacy and beauty they have found here. However when two of the ‘family’ get attacked by a shark the rest don’t deal well with them, refusing to take them back to the mainland for treatment. It seems as if all is well as long as all is well. When weakness disrupts the idyll it is not really tolerated. Other problems creep in and before long the life starts to crumble.

It put me in mind of the true tale of the six boys stranded on a rocky island just off the coast of Tonga in 1966. These young men quickly developed a way of life which included keeping the fire going, a proper work ethic, and dealing with conflict in a healthy way. They began and ended each day with song and prayer, having built their own guitar from driftwood, a coconut shell and steel wires from their wrecked boat.

In The Beach Richard epitomises the hunger for more, for a better life. For adventure, colour and a deeper reality. Breaking out of the dull. Something perhaps that many of us relate to from time to time. I think that’s a sign of the God-given longing we all have, a divinely inspired restlessness. This present reality is not perfect (even on an idyllic beach) and we have a sense that we were made for more. For a better kind of good. That’s what the prodigal is looking for in Luke 15, and when he finds it he discovers it in an unexpected place. To quote T.S. Eliot – ‘the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.’ In a sense we prodigals come home again each day, finding help, home and a welcome in the embrace of a generous father who loves us radically and passionately. Smiling from his heart, and hurling himself towards us arms wide open, as he catches the first glimpse of us limping home again.

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  1. Dave Manuel says:

    Brilliant words Dave and a brilliant analogy with the prodigal, thanks so much for this it reminds me of my own path to seek the best pleasures in life only to finally realise God

  2. Dave says:

    Thank you Dave, I appreciate your encouragement. Glad it was of some help.

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