First of all, FORGET THE MOVIE.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STAND CLEAR OF ANYONE OR ANYTHING THAT MENTIONS THE MOVIE IN A POSITIVE WAY.
There is absolutely nothing good about the movie, The Beach. Forget drooling over Leonardo or Virginie Ledoyen in my case and just stay… don’t even, yulk, thinking and writing this gives me the shivers.
Now, on the other hand, the book, by the multi-talented Alex Garland is in a league of its own. While you might be aware of Garland as an author, it doesn’t surprise me one little bit that he is also behind some captivating and brilliant screenplays such as that of Sunshine, 28 Days Later, Dredd, and most recently he wrote and directed Ex Machina, a movie that was both critically and commercially well received.
Garland’s claim to fame, in the 1990s, still remains that one book – The Beach – which in my mind is partly, if not completely, responsible for the backpacking craze going commercial.
The story of a British backpacker, Richard, discovering a hidden, Utopian island in Asia and the relationships that are formed and lost as a result makes for a gripping and very realistic, in a dreamy sort of way, read. Although the story is fictionalized, it has enough elements in it that makes is come very close to the truth of the backpacking world.
The Beach is a story about dreams and about living life in the present. There are a lot of life lessons that get thrown about via the numerous characters all of whom bring uniqueness to the story, but if a hint of spiritualism and gyan is not your cup of herbal tea, then there is enough “entertainment” – shark attacks, drug dealers, jumping off cliffs – mixed with sex and drugs to keep you interested. Obviously, no story is complete without some romance and relationships woes that often follow us, even on the road of self-discovery.
For me, it is the characters of the story that makes this read fascinating and absorbing as Garland manages to bring together a number of personalities and international “travelers” together in one spot and then drops in his protagonist amidst this setting to see if a utopia is even possible or just a dream we all want to be a part of.
The Beach has for the longest of time been a book that I often gift to people. It is a book that most travelers would have read – if not, then they should – as it combines together an element of thrill along with a compelling story that lingers on in the depths of any adventurous heart, pounding on it, making you and I want to get up, get out, and explore this world and the people that inhabit it.