“The Beach” is a recent movie that has been released on videocassette. The movie starts off with a young man traveling around the world in pursuit for a perfect society. During his journey he visits Bangkok, Thailand where he meets a rather unstable and somewhat insane man. Throughout their conversation, the insane man kept referring to an island of paradise. On this island, there are beautiful waterfalls, crystal clear water, and enormous fields of marijuana. The exact environment the young man was searching for. However, the man refused to tell the young man where it was. The next day, the young man found a map under his door leading to the enchanted island. When the young men went to the guy’s house he found him in a pool of blood, dead from suicide.
Before the young man left for the island, he did make a copy of the map and left it to a couple of guys he had met while in Thailand. (This copy would eventually lead to his downfall.) On his journey to this island, he had to take a plane, a private boat, and lastly to get to the actual island he had to swim around 2 kilometers.
Once he arrived at the island, he came across a small society completely hidden from the present world, as we know it. The society was made up of about 30 people. These people came from a variety of cultures, but one characteristic was common throughout. All had been travelers searching for paradise at one time in their life. Also, the young man learned that a group of natives on the opposite side of the island had given them permission to stay so long that they don’t tell anyone else. The natives farm the marijuana fields and then take it to the mainland to sell and trade. If their island didn’t remain a secret, not only would they be out of a career, but would be sent to prison.
The young man’s life was perfect now. He had found paradise. However, after time he finds out that paradise wasn’t all he had expected. They were never allowed to leave the island, fearful that someone might tell their secret. Much of their food was gathered amongst themselves. They didn’t have extensive medical equipment. And shelter was constructed themselves out of material from the island. Needless to say, all were still very happy in the structure of their society and their living conditions.
Until one of the people were bitten by a shark. The victim was in severe pain for weeks. Nobody would allow a doctor to come to the island or for him to leave. His leg was bitten severely and he needed medical attention. Eventually everybody got sick of him ruining their “paradise” environment and took him into the woods and left him. Some were against this decision, but the next day they were enjoying paradise once again.
Near the end of the movie, the young man’s acquaintances, he had given the copy of the map to, arrived at the island. They came upon the fields of marijuana and were gunned down by the natives. The natives found the copy of the map and went to the small society of people. They instructed everybody to leave and to never tell anybody about this place. However, many refused the natives claiming it was there home. I’m not going to spoil the end, but nearly all the people end up leaving the island by their own free will.
The people that made up this society had different statuses or positions to ensure tasks would get done. Some of these positions were: the leader, fishermen/food gatherers, the carpenter, the medic, etc. Each played an important role in surviving on the island with what they had.
I think this society is a perfect example of Ralf Dahrendorf’s theory of conflict theory and authority. The natives are the authority, and the society forms around the rules given by the natives. Do not bring any more people to the island! Knowing they might lose their perfect homes they wouldn’t let anything or anyone ruin it for them. For example, they pulled bad teeth with a pliers and no anesthetic and they left a good friend in the woods to die because he couldn’t go to the mainland to get help.
The most recognized person and considered the leader was a middle-aged woman. She was the second person who arrived on the island. (First being the insane guy in the beginning.) She influenced the behaviors, opinions, and attitudes of everyone. She was the one who communicated to the natives and went to the mainland once a month. She abused her authority by pressuring sex upon the young man and making people kill friends to keep their paradise. She was a very instrumental leader making sure everybody got tasks done.
All in all, “The Beach” was an excellent example of society and conflict. It shows that even what is thought to be the perfect society and environment has its downfalls. I also think this movie shows how dull and negative most of our societies are today. Overpopulation, pollution, and numerous other “potential” problems are dealt with everyday. People will do whatever it takes to live in a perfect society.