Middle-aged Gerald Kingsland advertises in a London paper for a female companion to spend a year with him on a desert island. The young Lucy Irvine takes a chance on contacting him and after a couple of meetings they decide to go ahead. Once on the island things prove a lot less idyllic than in the movies, and gradually it becomes clear that it is Lucy who has the desire and the strength to try and see the year through.
Castaway is a 1986 adventure-drama film starring Amanda Donohoe and Oliver Reed, and directed by Nicolas Roeg. It was adapted from its namesake 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.
The film features a song by English artist Kate Bush, “Be Kind to My Mistakes”, that later appeared on the 1997 re-release of her album Hounds of Love.
In 1981, Irvine responded to a “Writer seeks ‘Spouse’ for year on tropical island” advertisement placed by Kingsland in the London magazine Time Out. Chosen by Kingsland from over 50 applicants, Irvine agreed to marry him to satisfy immigration restrictions before they travelled to Tuin. She was 25 and Kingsland 49.
After a year on the island, she returned to England and wrote her memoirs. 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.”
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
Starring: Oliver Reed, Amanda Donohoe, Georgina Hale, Frances Barber, Tony Rickards, Todd Rippon, Virginia Hey, Sorel Johnson
Screenplay by: Allan Scott
Production Design by: Andrew Sanders
Cinematography by: Harvey Harrison
Film Editing by: Tony Lawson
Costume Design by: Nic Ede
Art Direction by: George Galitzine, Stuart Rose
Music by: Stanley Myers
Distributed by: Cannon Films
Release Date: February 20, 1986