Island in the Sun: 11 Movies About Islands
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Island in the Sun: 11 Movies About Islands

By Amanda Mae Meyncke | Seriously Random Lists | December 11, 2012 | Comments ()


I'm in the Caribbean. I know. It's for work, I'm writing a series of articles on traveling and being alone. ("Alone. Alone, alone, alone. Alone. Alone." - Renee Zellweger, Jerry Maguire) No, I know. I was on various planes for nine hours in order to get here. I'm only half complaining, mostly because it's my natural state. In the dark of the red eye flight from Los Angeles I woke up to the sound of myself loudly saying "No!" to a quiet and sleeping plane. I didn't shout, but I felt hysterical in that moment. As corny as it sounds, as we finally lifted down through the clouds to St. Maarten, the cold grip of stress began to relax and slip slowly away, my fears subsiding for a moment, worries looped forward for another day.

I'm surprised how warm it is here, the sands are white, the water is turquoise, the mountainsides green and resplendent. We're on a nervous first date, the island and I. "You look a lot like your picture," I stammer, taking in the scenery and nervously downing a cocktail. The waves roar gently in response. Later on as the sounds of a reggae cover band and wild tourists dancing the night away ooze into my room I get demanding, petulant. I tell the island, "Listen, I don't know how you can stand those people. Yes, those people. You're too good for them." It begins raining gently, the island cries at my disapproval and the crowds dissipate, seeking refuge at the bars.

I'm laying in bed at the Oyster Bay Resort on St. Maarten, fantasizing about finishing Jonathan Franzen's Freedom later. I keep imagining Connie Britton in the role of Patty and maybe like a young Al Brooks as Walter, and I think Bill Callahan or a much older Geoffrey Arend as Richard. All the younger people in the book are a wash to me, their faces continually changing, but the older people in the book are so clear, so defined, it's hard not to see them.

The ocean outside is roiling, I've left the sliding glass door on the balcony open, trusting that no errant bird or debris knocked loose by the winds will filter in. The waves sing a little song, you-are-free-you-are-free-you-are-free.

Cast Away

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Tom Hanks stars as a FedEx employee who is caught up in a horrible plane crash and stranded on a deserted island for years. As we flew away from Puerto Rico straight into the sunny skies towards St. Maarten, I started to panic, looking at all that water. Too much water. Water everywhere as far as the eye can see. Reminded me of the difficulties faced by Tom Hanks in attempting to escape with his trusty volleyball, Wilson. Then I got caught up on thinking about Cloud Atlas and the true true, so Cloud Atlas is a subsection in this paragraph on Tom Hanks and island movies.

Swiss Family Robinson

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The ultimate tree house of all time ever. Every kid I knew (I didn't know many, I guess, because musing back on this that seems sort of a rare thing) really loved Swiss Family Robinson and the wondrous tree house they lived in, and the animal races, and really every lovely little thing about this '60s Disney film. If you haven't seen it, you must! Yes, it's dated. Who cares, it's magical.

The Island


How come nobody likes this movie? Starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett "The Former Mrs. Ryan Reynolds" Johansson, this film follows an entire world of worker bees who are fed on promises of "The Island," a mythical place they'll get to go to eventually if they fall in line and work quietly. Actually, I was surprised that "Cloud Atlas" stole this trick too. Though the Sonmi storyline is the strongest, this felt so blatantly rehashed it was boring.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall


This movie is worth a watch for several reasons, including the mind blowing puppet opera at the end. While the raunchy comedy isn't for everyone, there's plenty of laughs and Jason Segel and Russell Brand nail it.

Blue Lagoon


This movie is diiiiiiirty. Even as a young teen this film struck me as sort of prurient in its eroticism. If you're gonna make a movie about banging, make a movie about banging, you know? This shocker follows two young kids who are shipwrecked and grow up alone on an island paradise, fending for themselves and falling in love without realizing it. Tremendously sad in a way (no friends! no community!), idyllic and dreamy in others (no credit cards! no people!).

The Beach


I can't remember what this movie is about other than Leonardo DiCaprio is on a beach, and there's a map and he goes there with some other people, and everything is not what it seems. I remember the beach being in Thailand? Near Thailand? So beautiful.



One of the most overpowering scores in all of film, the camera lingers obsessively over, and endlessly worships the shapely form of Brigitte Bardot, who plays wife to a screen writer sent to spruce up a classic telling of Odysseus. Love and marriage all gone wrong in the space of a few hours.

Jurassic Park


Uh, the ultimate island movie! Dinosaurs! On an island! Trapped with the dinosaurs! Dinosaurs gone wild! Dinosaurs gone wild on an island you can't get out ha ha ha! Also can we talk about how Jeff Goldblum is at a very specific stage of ripeness in this film? Put that in a brown paper bag, it'll be ready for your lunch tomorrow. I was watching this trailer before Skyfall a while ago and thought bitterly to myself that if they made it today Megan Fox would definitely be in it.

Shutter Island


One man's journey to uncover the truth about a mysterious island where a prisoner has made his daring escape leads to fear and neurosis and Mark Ruffalo absolutely killing it in a detective's hat. Wouldn't you pay like, at least 5 dollars to watch a video of Ruffalo trying on different period costumes and hats? I want to Kickstart the crap out of that, who do we call?

Muppet Treasure Island


Not the best Muppets, but this goofy take on Treasure Island is pretty funny. I haven't seen it since it came out, so I guess take that with a grain of sand.

The Pirates Movies


Yar. Filmed on every bloody island from here to Timbuktu. Which isn't an island, actually but a town in the nation of Mali. There, you learned something. You already know everything you need to know about the pirates movies, right now.

There's a bunch of other island themed beauties, like Cool Runnings. Also a few duds, like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, Weezer's album Island in the Sun, and then there's a bunch of movies that I can't stand, like 50 First Dates, Just Go With It and Couple's Retreat, that all are filmed on islands. Yes, I get it, but c'mon. Blech.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • whirligig7

    Swiss Family Robinson was filmed in my home country of Tobago --- the house is still used as a restaurant I believe!

  • hasshole

    John Sayles' Limbo deserves a spot. especially for it's "ending"

  • zeke_the_pig

    'Wouldn’t you pay like, at least 5 dollars to watch a video of Ruffalo trying on different period costumes and hats?'
    Yes, I absolutely would. In fact not just hats, but as wide a variety of looks as possible. I think Ruffalo is sorely underrated as a chameleon actor and I would like ot see thsi redressed.

  • Kate

    Cloud Atlas the novel from which the movie Cloud Atlas was adapted was published in 2004. The Island was released in 2005.

    Not sure how you can suggest that the Somni plot "rehashed" a plot that hadn't been released yet. Unless you think David Mitchell stole a script.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Good catch. No idea. Time travel?

  • Kate

    It's really not funny (or professional) to accuse people of "stealing" in a published piece. A minute of research is all that's needed.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I actually just meant the literal way it looked in both movies. I read the book but didn't even think of "The Island" until I saw a trailer for "Cloud Atlas." I guess my poorly worded point is there is nothing new under the sun.

  • Idle Primate

    The Hurricane (1937), by John Ford was an amazing adventure/disaster/romance islands movie. The thrilling hurricane sequence stands up still today too.

  • Semilitterate

    Just because something takes place ON an island does not mean that the something is ABOUT the island----ergo, misleading headline

  • Melissa D

    This probably seems cliched, but Anne of Green Gables. I know it's a miniseries, but I'm from the Island and whenever I feel desperately homesick I watch this movie (or read the book). I miss home.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    It's my very favorite! I never thought of it, but it's perfect. Thank you.

  • Melissa D

    Just remember, that all the movies after the first one, especially the horrifyingly AWFUL third movie, are abominations. Stick to the first!

  • Tinkerville

    Dude, rewatch Muppet Treasure Island right fucking now. It's hilarious, meta, and utterly amazing. It has Billy Connelly warning against running with scissors on his deathbed, Tim Curry's operatic voice, and Mr. Bimbo, who lives in Fozzie's finger. Also, how can you not love a movie that has the line "Satan is HATIN'!"

  • dagnabbit

    Another lazy-ass article from Pajiba

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Yeah, screw those fools.

  • Bandit

    'Contempt' couldn't be a more fitting title. Le Mépris is one of the most pretentious, pompous, trite, overdone, boring films I ever had the misfortune of watching. However, I have never seen a more stunning film. You just cannot doubt the genius of Godard.

  • ThePhantomGuinness

    Umm, Pappilon? Great story, great acting, and it is actually about Devils Island. This is in contrast to The Island, which was in the New Mexico desert. Clutch part, being surrouded by actual water.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Damn good book too.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Adding it to the queue or whatever the kids do these days. Thanks for the heads up!

  • pumpkin

    Such a great movie!

  • googergieger

    Doesn't The Island lose points for ripping off an MST3K movie?

    Anywhoots. Castaway On The Moon. Blood Rain. Bedevilled.

  • Kelly Anne Williams

    A friend and I Netflixed "The Decoy Bride" with a bottle of wine recently and loved it despite ourselves. It's a silly bit of a film, but it takes place on a fictional island in the Hebrides and damn if listening to Kelly MacDonald describe its bleakness in her lovely Scots accent make me want to move directly there.

  • Dave Margolis

    I'm okay with Amanda Mae Meyncke believing that writing means telling the world as many things about Amanda Mae Meyncke's thoughts and experiences and about how clever Amanda Mae Meyncke is, but shouldn't Amanda Mae Meyncke know that one doesn't "lay" in bed, one "lies" in bed? Lying is something one does to one's self, while laying is something one does to something or someone else. And I'm guessing Amanda Mae Meyncke does more lying than laying.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    So weird, your mom never seems to complain about whether we're lying or laying together.

  • Skyler Durden is not logged in

    I will never understand why ZOMG ALONE freaks people out. I have been to Europe twice in the past two years-alone. It is the only way I ever want to travel. I can't wait to go back next year. It is the ultimate liberation. Why is no one sending MEEE on a trip? I'll write your piece!

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I love being alone and traveling alone, which is why I pitched the idea. You should write about it too!

  • Archie Leach

    "Hawaii" and "The Hawaiians"? And, uuuhhhh, yes it is embarrassing to admit to knowing about the two.

  • pockets full of stones

    "The Descendants." Everything in and about that movie was so distinctly island-y. Also have to say this: I adore whatever Amanda writes and hers quickly became the name I click on first upon my arrivals to the glorious island of Pajiba.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Thank you for your kind words! I love that movie, and can't believe I forgot it.

  • Isn't The Dark Knight Rises technically about an island? Gotham is basically NYC and Bane keeps everyone from leaving by destroying the bridges. It's not as overt an island story as the ones listed. But this gave me a reason to talk about Batman, which I'll take advantage of most of the time.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    From what I hear, you take advantage most of the time. Heyyyy oooooh, self high five.

  • Repo

    Not to be that guy, but Island In The Sun is a song not a album, off of Weezer's S/T "Green" record.

    On topic, I vote The Perfect Getaway as a island movie. If only for the fantastic banter between Olyphant and Zahn. And the batshit ending of course.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Repo! You're right. I guess this is what happens when you drink too much champagne and then stare into the abyss. Everything after Pinkerton is pretty muddled for me as far as Weezer goes anyway.

  • VonnegutSlut

    I friggin' love that movie--if for no other reason than we get to see Olyphant get shot in the head, survive and then promptly fold his scalp back over his skull and secure it with a bandana like it ain't no thang.

    That man is lithe walking badassery.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    The Island is the best Michael Bay movie ever, I know that's not saying much, but it's ironic that is was his biggest flop. Maybe this is why he just makes crap all the time? He knows crap sells.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    No The Rock?

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I'd never even heard of this movie. :bashes head against rock:

  • Bert_McGurt

    Well, she did her best.

  • mograph

    Her besht?

  • Natallica

    Let's add "The rock" featuring Sean Connery's grunge hair. Ok, maybe not

  • Natallica

    Oooops, seems the above commenter had the same idea. Grunge hair is powerful, indeed

  • VonnegutSlut

    Not that it really matters, but I gonna go all nerd-anal on you & point out that the picture you chose for JURASSIC PARK is actually from JURASSIC PARK III.

    I only mention this because I recognized Michael Jeter's glorious bald spot running for his life amidst the, I miss that guy. Even in shitshows like JURASSIC PARK III.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    Haha. Sigh. You are right.

  • NateMan

    I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated Shutter Island, and I am mildly angry at you for putting that piece of drivel back into my head. 10 minutes into the movie I turned to my wife and whispered "If it turns out he's really a patient I'm walking out." As soon as we got to the reveal I was in the lobby. HATED IT.

  • Amanda Meyncke

    I wanted so badly to believe it wasn't as stupid as all that, that I convinced myself I didn't understand it and there was some further twist upon a twist upon a twist. Everyone felt bad for me working so hard to make it make sense.

  • Nat Kittyface

    My mom decided that he was actually right and that it WAS all an elaborate conspiracy like the doctor lady in the cave said, and that the ending was them finally breaking his psyche and making him believe the lies.

    It's a way more fun movie if you read it my mom's way, so I totally do.

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