What You Need To Know:
(V, N, S, O, M) Murder, brief scenes in which a man hit overhead with harpoon and another man is eaten by a shark; naked female breasts; temptation to commit adultery, attempted rape; pagan tribe, brief pagan ritual and sacrifice to pagan gods; and natural man portrayed as basically good whereas industrialized society is evil.
Marooned on an unspoiled tropical island, young Lilli and Richard innocently grow up without the evils of society, enabling them to discover love within the context of marriage until their blissful paradise is disrupted by the lure of adultery and a boat trip back to civilization.
Set in the late 19th Century, their journey begins when Sarah Hargrave, the widow of an evangelical minister, sails home from Tahiti to San Francisco with infant Lilli, her daughter. Their ship encounters a tiny boat, containing a dead couple and their 2-year-old son, who is miraculously alive.
Nursing the boy back to health, Sarah names him Richard. Meanwhile, cholera breaks out on the ship, and the young woman and children set off in a rowboat to avoid certain death. After days adrift, they reach a lush deserted island.
Over the next eight years, Sarah educates Richard and Lilli in survival, the Christian faith and sexuality. Enjoying a direct relationship with nature, they consume saltwater fish and island fruits such as coconuts, papayas and mangoes.
Nurturing their spiritual growth, Sarah also teaches the children how to read from the Bible and sings hymns. Her faith, sprinkled with Victorian modesty, is also evident as she answers Lilli and Richard’s questions about genitals, female menstruation and child birth.
When Sarah dies of pneumonia, the children must grow up without parental guidance. Before her death, however, Sarah writes a touching eulogy and prayer, admonishing the children to keep the faith and maintain their school lessons. She reminds them that they will eventually be rescued and return to the civility of their former life in San Francisco.
Even so, Richard and Lilli enter adolescence by themselves. As their bodies develop, Lilli starts menstruating and moves her bed to another part of the hut. Richard is embarrassed by his first wet dream. Although their bodily discovery is modestly veiled, moviegoers will roll their eyes at the inordinate emphasis that is placed on such activities.
Later, Richard and Lilli get into an argument. Storming off to the island’s forbidden north side, Richard encounters a ritualistic pagan tribe yet manages to escape by camouflaging himself with mud smeared on his face and body.
Returning to the hut, Richard and Lilli promise each other they will never fight again, kissing passionately for the first time. “I feel like crying. I think we should be husband and wife,” says Richard.
At Sarah’s tombstone, they recite marriage vows and exchange bamboo wedding rings. Shortly thereafter, their marital bliss is disrupted when a ship lands on their island, forcing Richard and Lilli to contend with the evils of civilization.
Aboard the ship is a professor and his daughter, Silvia, a pampered blue-eyed blonde who tries to tempt Richard to commit adultery. When Lilli confronts Richard, he confesses that he wants to see her naked. However, in the heat of the moment, Richard refuses Silvia’s advances, insisting that following his heart means being faithful to his wife.
Also enticed is Lilli, who bathes topless underneath the waterfall and is almost raped by one of the ship’s mates. The couple rejects the crew’s gracious offer to sail back to San Francisco. “I want to stay here, where there are lies and no guns,” says Lilli.
Ultimately, RETURN TO THE BLUE LAGOON implies that Lilli and Richard are basically good teenagers who maintain a clean slate on an island that protects them from societal contamination. This concept, when viewed from a biblical perspective, emphasizes that we are created in the image of God but negates the truth of man’s fallen nature and Christ’s redemption for our sins.
Scripturally, the original garden of God was destroyed (along with innate goodness) when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. For this reason, mere isolation will not keep Lilli and Richard from missing the mark. Truthfully, to live without sin is to be with Jesus in heaven.