Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Alex Garland’s The Beach is not a great film. The book, on the other hand, is essential reading. If The Beach is to be remade, then it has to be on TV. And it has to be brilliant. It has to be worthy of the source material this time.
We all know how it feels to have a book you love ruined when someone tries to turn it into a film. The anticipation and the expectation when they announce the adaptation is almost too much to bear. You have your imaginings. You want to see your favourite parts of the book respectfully brought to life on the screen. Then they blow it.
It shouldn’t have been this way. Danny Boyle is a wonderful director when he is at his best. His adaptation of Trainspotting is arguably better than the source material. However, somehow Boyle managed to turn my favourite book into a frequently cringe-worthy film.
But now, 18 years since the film, and after re-reading the book more times than I could count on the fingers of one hand, The Beach is heading towards a remake. The Beach author turned Ex Machina and Annihilation film director Alex Garland said “someone very talented is currently working on a possible adaptation, so I’m really interested to see what they write”. Please, I’m begging that powers that be, make it a mini-series. Give it the time it deserves.
The Beach needs at least 6 hours, but I reckon you could really do it justice with 10 hours of TV. Book adaptations can’t be rushed. Especially, a book as rich and wonderful as this. It needs time to soak in the sights and sounds of the Khao San Road in Bangkok. I needs more time to explore the journey of Richard, Étienne and Françoise to the secluded island at the end of an archipelago. It needs time to introduce a wealth of characters that live in the hidden beach community. And most importantly it needs the time to make us believe that Richard is slowly but surely losing the plot.
While we’re at it, forget the unnecessary Americanisation of the film. Get rid of Leo whose too old now anyway. Make Richard British again. Give Jack O’Connell a call.
Then bring back the character of Jed. The film made a terrible, unforgiveable mistake by losing this essential character. If Jed was cut for reasons of time, then expanding the adaptation to 10 hours of TV leaves no excuses. If time is still an issue, be sure to scrap the stupid sex scenes from the film that completely ruined the unrequited love aspect of the novel.
The Beach needs time to be explored. Its characters, its community, its beauty, its danger and its ultimate demise. All deserve hours of your time. All deserve hours of great TV. If they keep anything from Danny Boyle’s film, it should be a few of the songs on the soundtrack. Otherwise, go back to the book, and make this a mini-series worthy of the novel.
What do you think? Should they be remaking The Beach?