Castaway (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byNicolas Roeg
Screenplay byAllan Scott
Based onCastaway
by Lucy Irvine
Produced byRick McCallum
CinematographyHarvey Harrison
Edited byTony Lawson
Music byStanley Myers and Hans Zimmer
Distributed byColumbia-Cannon-Warner Distributors[1]
Release date
  • 20 February 1986 (1986-02-20)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1 million (UK/US)

Castaway is a 1986 British biographical-drama film directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Amanda Donohoe and Oliver Reed.[2] It was adapted from the eponymous 1984 book by Lucy Irvine, telling of her experiences of staying for a year with writer Gerald Kingsland on the isolated island of Tuin, between New Guinea and Australia.

Real life inspiration[edit]

In 1981, Lucy Irvine responded to an advertisement placed by writer Gerald Kingsland, and they became self-imposed castaways for a year on the isolated and uninhabited island of Tuin, in the Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia. Chosen by Kingsland from over 50 applicants, Irvine agreed to marry him to satisfy immigration restrictions before they travelled to Tuin. She was 25 years old, and he was 49. After a year, they returned home, and in 1983, she published her account of the experience in Castaway, which was later used as the basis for the film.

When Irvine met director Nicolas Roeg, he felt her story was perfect material for telling a relationship between an older man and a younger woman. It never was intended to be exactly like her experience, as Roeg felt Irvine would be too personally involved then. Irvine was positive about the film, stating she was pleased with Donohoe, Reed and Roeg.[3]


In 2011, Donohoe recalled her experience working with Reed, stating: 'Well, naked on a desert island with Oliver Reed – it was a tabloid fantasy, wasn't it? He was an alcoholic and his behaviour was erratic, but he was always a courteous and good actor. His personal life wasn't working but he never crossed any lines professionally.'[4]


The film opens with a song by English artist Kate Bush, "Be Kind to My Mistakes". A slightly edited version later appeared on the 1997 re-release of her album Hounds of Love. The soundtrack begins with a different version of the same song, which was also released as a 7-inch single. The rest of the soundtrack album is instrumental and composed by Stanley Myers. It received a limited CD release in 2013.[citation needed]


Box office[edit]

The film grossed £440,281 in the United Kingdom.[5] Including its gross from the United States, the film grossed over $1 million.

Critical response[edit]

The movie received a mixed reception from critics.[6][7][8][9]

Leslie Halliwell said: "Extended absurdity uncharacteristic of its director."[10]

The Radio Times Guide to Films gave the film 2/5 stars, writing: "Both Amanda Donohoe and Oliver Reed cope well with their roles as the castaway and the sex-mad, middle-aged man who is her companion, but in the end you can't help feeling the nudity is only there to spice up a tale of two selfish people who probably deserved each other."[11]

Variety wrote: "Newcomer Amanda Donohoe spends most of the pic displaying the absence of bikini marks on her body (palm trees always seem to obscure the vital parts of Oliver Reed as Gerald Kingsland), and she copes well with a character whose motives and methods for going to the tiny desert island remain dubious. Reed gives the performance of his career as a sexually frustrated middle-aged man in search of sun and sex, and is admirably complemented by Amanda Donohoe as the determined but fickle object of his lust. Photography is excellent (especially underwater scenes) but though Castaway is a great ad for the tropical Seychelles, it won’t be remembered as a Nicolas Roeg classic."[12]


  1. ^ "Castaway (1986)". BBFC. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  2. ^ "Castaway". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  3. ^ Irvine, Lucy. "Lucy Irvine FAQ". Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Donohoe discusses getting naked with Oliver Reed". GetSurrey. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Market profile: UK". Screen International. 7 May 1988. p. 334.
  6. ^ Coto, Juan Carlos (10 December 1987). "'CASTAWAY' PLOT LEAVES FILMGOERS SHIPWRECKED". The Sun-Sentinel.
  7. ^ "MOVIE REVIEW : 'CASTAWAY' PUTS A ROMANTIC CLICHE INTO FOCUS". Los Angeles Times. 4 September 1987.
  8. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (7 March 1986). "AT THE MOVIES". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "SUDDENLY A FRENZY OF FALL FILMS". Los Angeles Times. 17 August 1987.
  10. ^ Halliwell, Leslie (1989). Halliwell's Film Guide (7th ed.). London: Paladin. p. 180. ISBN 0586088946.
  11. ^ Radio Times Guide to Films (18th ed.). London: Immediate Media Company. 2017. p. 160. ISBN 9780992936440.
  12. ^ "Castaway". Variety. 31 December 1987. Retrieved 19 November 2023.

External links[edit]