Castaway (1986)

Amazing true story

The film Castaway from director Nicolas Roeg reminds me of the saying-‘truth is stranger than fiction.’ Based on a true story, it’s the tale of a British writer Gerald Kingston (played by Oliver Reed) who conceives of the brilliant plan to cart himself off to a desert island–with a suitable woman in tow–with the idea that he will write a bestseller based on his ‘back-to-nature-Adam-and-Eve’ experiences. Good plan, and it certainly smacked of a possible salacious bestseller. So middle-aged Gerald advertises for a wife, and is thrilled when young, blonde, and beautiful Lucy Irvine (Amanda Donohue) responds to his advertisement for “wife wanted.”

A man–a woman–alone on a tropical island in the South Pacific–well one thing leads to another, and Gerald and Lucy are soon lovers. Then the story becomes extremely interesting when the idyllic scenario shifts and the practicalities begin to set in. Both Gerald and Lucy begin to suffer from a variety of health problems related to their deprivations, and soon they are at each other’s throats.

When Lucy Irvine told her story to the British press, it created quite a scandal for some time in England. The irony, of course, is that Lucy Irvine wrote the book Castaway which detailed the plan for the bestseller, Gerald’s behaviour, and the inevitable disintegration of their relationship. The film does a rather nice job of contrasting all the hopes and dreams of the island life with the harsh realities of malnutrition, illness, and isolation. Both Donohue and Reed were perfectly cast in their roles–their initial passion is believable, and the disillusionment inevitable and well done.

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