Watch Paradise

"If only it could have been forever."
  • R
  • 1982
  • 1 hr 40 min
  • 4.9  (2,884)
  • 20

Paradise is a 1982 adventure romance set in an exotic locale and directed by Stuart Gillard. With a title that evokes images of a utopian sanctuary, the film weaves a story about discovery, survival, and the blossoming of young love against a backdrop of sun-soaked vistas and challenges of the natural world. The heart of Paradise lies in its two young stars, Willie Aames and Phoebe Cates, whose on-screen chemistry provides the central narrative drive. Aames portrays David, a resourceful and adventurous young man driven by an innate sense of curiosity and a strong will to survive. Phoebe Cates, in one of her early screen roles that predates her rise to stardom, plays Sarah, an innocently beautiful and intelligent young woman who finds herself unexpectedly thrust into an environment that tests both her wits and her will.

The third pivotal character, played by Tuvia Tavi, adds another layer to the storyline with an imposing presence that introduces elements of danger and the unpredictability of human nature when pitted against the forces of nature and the innate drive for self-preservation.

Set in the early 1900s, the narrative begins with Sarah traveling to meet her father in a Middle Eastern country. However, when tragedy strikes her caravan, she finds herself stranded in the desert with only David, whom she had met on her journey, by her side. Unprepared but not entirely unequipped, the duo must navigate the unforgiving landscape, finding their way through treacherous sand dunes and scorching heat, all the while developing a deep bond that carries the hallmarks of a first love.

As David and Sarah travel together, they are challenged to use their ingenuity and burgeoning knowledge to find food, water, and shelter, often relying on each other for emotional and physical support. Throughout their quest for survival, they encounter not only natural obstacles but also fellow travelers and natives, each introducing new interactions that test their resolve, their understanding of the world around them, and their commitment to each other.

The cinematography of Paradise is one of its defining features; the stark, yet beautiful natural landscapes serve almost as a separate character that influences the direction of the film. The camera captures the serene beauty of the environment, the vibrant flora and fauna, and the sometimes brutal elements that the characters must endure. The film's setting is as much a canvas for the story as it is a crucible for the characters' development.

The movie captures the essence of the coming-of-age genre, tracing David and Sarah's journey from innocent naïveté to mature understanding. It's a tale of personal growth and emotional discovery, punctuated by moments of danger, action, and the poignant realization of a first love capable of inspiring both characters to rise above their circumstances.

In terms of production, Paradise features a blend of drama, action sequences, and romantic interludes that work together to create a narrative that is both engaging and visually appealing. The film's score, reflective of the era it portrays, complements the narrative, echoing the adventure and the romantic undertones present throughout the story.

Stuart Gillard's direction ensures that the film maintains a balance between its more intense action-driven scenes and its quieter, more reflective moments. His ability to contrast the struggle for survival with tender interludes of youthful exploration of affection allows the viewer to become invested in the characters’ odyssey, keeping the audience rooting for the protagonists’ safety and their fledgling love.

Even though Paradise was made in the early 1980s, the timelessness of its themes—self-discovery, the resilience of the human spirit, and the power of human connection—endows it with a resonance that can still be appreciated by contemporary audiences. It's a thematic ode to the age-old narrative of humans versus nature, with the added dimension of a tender love story that unfolds in the least expected circumstances.

Despite facing mixed reviews during its release, the film found a place in the pantheon of early '80s cinema and is noteworthy for showcasing the talents of Aames and the debut of Cates, who would both go on to attain greater fame in their careers.

Paradise touches on the notion that even in the harshest conditions, where the very term seems to contradict the reality, the concept of a paradise is not necessarily a place, but perhaps a state of being—one that is achieved through love, connection, and the overcoming of monumental challenges. It is this search for paradise, both literal and metaphorical, that continues to make the film an intriguing piece of cinema history.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 40 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    4.9  (2,884)
  • Metascore