Salon on “The Beach”

Our coverage and criticism of Alex Garland's bestselling 1997 novel and its 2000 movie adaptation.

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As the film adaptation of Alex Garland’s “The Beach” storms theaters
throughout the country, Salon Travel & Food storms back. With a
barrage of thoughtful criticism, far-flung reportage, cultural analysis
and starry-eyed gazing at the movie’s bulky-come-lately star, Leo
DiCaprio, we take
stock of what the project says about — and does to — the evolving
realm of international travel.

From Rolf Potts’ clandestine dispatches about the filming of the
movie in Thailand — he crashed the set, or rather, swam to it — to
our interviews with Garland, to our critiques of the novel and the
film, we offer an eclectic mix of responses to “The Beach.” And
should any of these get your blood pumping, we encourage you to dive into
the lively conversation in Table Talk, our freewheeling discussion area.

“The sightseer,” Walker Percy writes, “should be prepared to enter
into a struggle to recover a sight from a museum.” Does “The Beach”
qualify as sightseer or museum? How is today’s traveler to respond?
What effects will the book/movie combo have on Thailand, and on the
general character of travel? Read on, and enjoy the storming of “The
Beach”!

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I N_.S A L O N

The movie

The Salon Arts & Entertainment review
No phone, no lights, no motorcar — not a single luxury! Leonardo DiCaprio and the “Trainspotting” creators can’t
rescue Alex Garland’s trouble-in-paradise bestseller from trite moralizing.
By Stephanie Zacharek – 02/11/00

View the trailer for “The Beach.” Choose your connection speed below.
28.8K | 56.6K | 100K - RealVideo
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Salon goes behind the scenes

Storming “The Beach”
A backpacker in search of adventure in Thailand puts the moves on Leonardo DiCaprio.
By Rolf Potts – 02/09/99

Backstage on “The Beach”
A backpacker’s quest to storm Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie set ends in an epiphany that won’t play in Peoria.
By Rolf Potts – 02/10/99

A spy on “The Beach”

Our correspondent reports from behind the scenes of Leonardo DiCaprio’s new movie.
By Rolf Potts – 05/04/99

The place

Live from the trans-global Beach Nation
Leo’s new movie may be fiction, but its portrayal of a crowded travel world is based in fact. Our correspondent reports — from the unlikeliest of places — on just what is happening.
By Rolf Potts – 02/11/00

Goodbye, Khao San Road
After “The Beach” hits the theaters, Thailand’s budget travel scene will
never be the same again. A meditation on the last days of the middle-class
travel revolution.
By Rolf Potts – 10/12/99


Rolf Potts Travel Diary/Vagabonding Archive

Don’t get off the elephant!
Exploring the hill tribes and opium fields of northern Thailand on
foot sounded like a great adventure. It wasn’t.
By Karl Taro
Greenfeld – 07/22/97

Ways to disappear
Three new friends on the Thailand-Burma border
teach a traveler about gaining and losing.
By Adam Bluestein – 04/24/99

Walking on silk
A massage teacher in Thailand changes a Westerner’s life.
By Thomas
Golembeski – 02/22/99

“Earth Odyssey”
Bangkok’s ceaseless traffic congestion and deadening pollution are only the
most visible of the Thai capital’s many ecological problems.
By Mark
Hertsgaard – 01/21/99

Deep in the heart of Thailand, Texas
An expat watering hole called the Texas Lonestar offers a raw and raucous
slice of America — deep in the heart of Bangkok.
By Roger Beaumont – 01/27/99

The book

Beach nut
An interview with Alex Garland, bestselling and occasionally controversial author of “The Beach.”
By Sue Wheat – 02/11/00

Beach boy
26-year-old Alex Garland, author of the harrowing novel “The Beach,” talks about the quest for mystery in a world that’s too well known.
By Dwight Garner – 02/11/97

“The Beach”
Alex Garland’s astonishing first novel
echoes “Dog Soldiers” and “Lord of the Flies” in
its discovery of the hell that lurks in paradise.
By Richard Gehr –
02/11/97

Bitch: An excerpt from “The Beach”
“The first I heard of the beach was in Bangkok, on the Ko Sahn Road. The Ko Sahn Road was backpacker land…”
By Alex Garland – 02/11/97

Leonardo DiCaprio

Salon Media: Old age and treachery defeat youth and beauty, again!
How Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar was stolen by senile old sea-lions protecting their unhappy harems.
By Liesl Schillinger – 03/17/98

Salon Entertainment: King of the beasts
Not even Leonardo DiCaprio’s pin-up charms can save the loutish “The Man in the Iron Mask.”
By Stephanie Zachareck – 03/13/98

Salon Entertainment: Glub, glub, glub — “Titanic” goes under
James Cameron’s new disaster movie deserves a watery grave.
By Stephanie Zachareck – 12/17/97

“THE BEACH” IN TABLE TALK

Lord of the flies in the blue lagoon
Does “The Beach” have anything new to offer?

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Elsewhere on the Web

The Official Leonardo DiCaprio Homepage

Footsteps on the Beach
Since filming began, this student-operated Thai site has been the most
extensive and well-linked site on the Web for “The Beach” movie, novel and
Leonardo DiCaprio fan information.

The 20th Century Fox official movie site for “The Beach.”

A 1998 draft of John Hodge’s adapted screenplay for “The Beach.”

Lonely Planet guidebook author Joe Cummings comments on the cultural
accuracy of Alex Garland’s novel.

“The Beach” on the Internet Movie Database

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