Controversy: Island

A Controversy …

I respectfully disagree with assessments that the film indicates forced sex or rape. (These words have been applied by viewers of the film … not by the author of the book.)

Even though at my first viewing I had not yet read the book, I never felt that Calum went that far. Though he was certainly aroused, it simply wasn’t in his character to be violent unless provoked. I know the fade-to-seashore many times does indicate a consummation … however, in this circumstance I felt that a different dynamic was taking place and that it did not.

The author is characterizing an innocent … a man, who at 24 years of age, is still unaccustomed to any physical relationship with the opposite sex … a young man who has learned none of the usual filters acquired in growing up normally, and who has absolutely no idea that a sibling relationship exists. She is worldly; he is not. She understands what she is doing; he does not. Later, I read the book and felt my impression had been correct. I wish this had been made clearer in the film. (The film makers did say they intentionally left this scene less ambiguous than in the book.) However, I did really like the film and felt Natalie’s portrayal, provoking her innocent brother in order to exact revenge upon her mother, was very true to the spiteful nature of her character.

It would seem enough to leave it as it was in the book: the fluid was on her jeans and not in her … a premature ejaculation from an aroused young man. Yes, he had been forceful with her after a certain point, but I would not call it “forced sex”, if by sex we mean intercourse. In the film she encourages and returns his kisses, not just once, twice or three times … but beyond his limits. In the book also, she plays upon his liking her to bring him very close, enticing physical intimacy until hormones and urges take over, leaving him without conscious intent, and, as Nikki later says, (in the book), … I egged him on … I drew him in … he did nothing wrong … he attempted only what nature intended him for …. Afterward she was never accusatory nor even angry with him, as she would have been had she been forced to completion. In fact, she was angry with herself. She was in control, until she led him to the edge; she knows this. He is abjectly remorseful, tearful, and painfully unhappy that he may have hurt her. I must say that Colin’s performance carried with it every bit of that emotional turmoil.

I believe the author of the book implied an act of impulsive, uncontrolled passion on Calum’s part … it was the film that carried it further. “Rape” implies a violent intent, and there was none here. So, I guess ambiguous pretty well describes it. In any case, this is not a story about incest between siblings.

These two lonely people are slowly forming a bond … the really important part of the story. I particularly like the scene at the end of the film … she places her arms around him and strokes his arms and his hair … the big sister comforting her younger brother.

Ultimately, in the book and in the film, the coming together of these two characters is a positive thing. Unfortunately forced sex is such a loaded phrase that it has distracted many from the truly redemptive story of Nikki’s leaving her anger behind … which is brought to light by her intended sacrifice to save Calum from a prison which would destroy him.




12 comments on “Controversy: Island

  1. leahluna55 says:

    Totally agree with you!
    As you well said “Rape” means violence but also it’s about power and this is not the case.
    Calum is a simple soul, with his head full of stories and fairy tales. He plants and tends his vegetable garden and roams around the island looking for objects and things brought by the sea that he calls “his treasure”. He is like a free spirit!!!! For others he is strange because he sees the world in a different way and lives in a dream, which reminds me of an autistic child, and of course has no control of his emotions, specially rage.
    In this incident Nikki knew what she was doing, she knew he was her brother and she was using Calum to punish their mother, making him like her and go away with her.
    So, she tempted him openly and gives him hope of something that could never be:

    (extracted from the book)

    He was sitting with his legs drawn in front of him. I raised my foot and pressed it gently against his shin. I could make him do anything.
    “I like you,” he said.
    Of course he liked me.
    “Can I marry you?”
    Bull’s-eye in one! “When we go to mainland-maybe we could talk about it….”
    “I do like you”.
    “I know”.

    When the inevitable moment came she realized that she did not want it to happen. Too late! she wasn’t in control anymore and nature followed its course.
    Both suffered, both cried and felt sorry. Never happened again.


    Not only this moment is ambiguous in the film, also the ending is.
    If you haven’t read the book immediately you think they continue in an incestuous relationship….completely wrong. They kept themselves as brother and sister like the tale of “Fir Apple”.
    I personally love this last scene of the film, think it is beautiful….Calum/Colin’s blue eyes full of tears and innocence, hopeless and also full of remorse for what they’ve done.
    That moment also represents Nikki’s redemption and her transformation, trying to protect her brother.
    And the emotion of saying each other, as an oath, the words of the first tale named Fir Apple :

    “If You don’t leave me I’ll never leave you”.
    ” Not now, nor ever”.

    And so they did.

    This is not a single story, there are many stories in it that are related between them.
    I’m convinced that those tales are connected in some way to the characters.
    Wisely done by the author!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Leah, If I could give you a thousand “likes”, I would. Do you know how wonderful it is to meet someone who sees subtleties and innocence? And Colin conveys it as no one else can. I am sure you are right about those who believe (or want to believe!) that these two continued in an incestuous relationship. That possibility, honestly, never occurred to me. I love the last scene as well and felt Nikki / Susan’s gesture to Calum was a comforting and sisterly one.

    Calum’s words, “If you never leave me, I’ll never leave you”, linger in my mind, so beautifully and soulfully spoken. And her response … “not now, nor ever”, completed their commitment to be there for each other.

    An incredibly powerful and moving story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. leahluna55 says:

    This story (book and film) touches my heart, and the way the film was made is Simply BEAUTIFUL!
    He gave us a remarkable, a clean and flawless and a sincere performance ( always from his heart ). For sure, when he was filming, “Calum’s heart was beating inside of him”, as he said about Victor in a ToY interview.
    Colin might be in big movies, great series, on stage, even win a BAFTA, an Oscar or a Golden Globe etc… but for me (this is very personal) his performance in this independent and small film is his testament of what a GOOOOD!!! actor he is. After I saw the movie, the first time, I spent months watching the ending, just to listen to their voices and see those teary blue eyes…..Can’t express my feelings!.
    The same I felt the first time I saw the Last Dragon Lord (Merlin), at the end, when he screams to the Dragon with his eyes full of tears and despair: ” Go,…….” that scene is priceless !

    I’ve watched Island with some of my friends and they questioned the ending…….and here I come with my book and explain. That’s why I added that moment as a 2nd controversy, they really thought that relationship would continue in the other way.

    Sometimes, we are so blind and with our mind full of stereotypes that we cannot appreciate the poetry and the beauty of certain moments!

    Can’t wait to see Colin as Sean MacDiarmada in the Rising.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As to the Last Dragon Lord … again, you have mentioned one of the episodes in Merlin that I cherish. I have a page on Merlin pages waiting to publish my impressions, written three or four years ago. You are inspiring me to get busy on that one. Have a wonderful day !!!

      (It seems we are of the same heart about Colin. How lovely it is to share with you!)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Sometimes, we are so blind and with our mind full of stereotypes that we cannot appreciate the poetry and the beauty of certain moments!”

    Yes, it is truly spoken. I have struggled with friends; I have really wanted them to see the beauty here; I cannot understand how it can escape them. And, here you are! a Treasure!

    There is one person comes to mind who had refrained from seeing the film because of their fear of where they believed the film leads. I used all my persuasion, going to the lengths of spoilers just to attempt to convince them to try. I was not successful. So, there is an avid Colin fan out there who will never be enchanted by Calum. How sad that is to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leahluna55 says:

      Yes! there are many persons out there that will never be enchanted by Calum even though they are Colin’s fans, and some of them are my good friends.
      “People do not change their thoughts unless they want”. I just let them flow….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Twosocks says:

    Since the discussion is here, I figured it was okay to comment here. Finished reading the book while waiting for planes and since a little snowed in today, rewatched the film–and paid attention. Reading the book definitely helped. Just understanding what was being said and several places where there was a bit more in the book to help understand what was happening.

    I found myself more sympathetic to the women’s stories, also. We are humans and we often deal with life circumstances in wildly odd and and unexplainable ways–even to ourselves. We are not machines. We have a dark side and refusing to acknowledge it does not make it go away. Let’s stop sugar coating life. Doesn’t that devalue it? Aren’t we stronger than that?

    So to the scene that seems to be upsetting. I never saw it as rape–no matter how far it went. Calum is a grown man and Nikki is not an innocent child. Two people in a very complicated relationship. Why do we have to pretend that sex is some kind of polite, formal, tea party? It’s not. But it is part of who we are and acting like we are always in control of that part is only hurtful. We need to look in the mirror and see what’s really there. Calum and Nikki just might help us to do that. And, maybe in the end, finding someone we care about is the important part. They became brother and sister, each giving something the other needed, not lovers.

    I will definitely be returning to this film and the book again. A lot here that I didn’t understand or expect to find before. So this is one Colin fan who is enchanted by Calum and his wonderful stories. (Think I may go back and dig up “Women Who Run With the Wolves” and Loren Eisley.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is the perfect place to comment, Joan. When the discussion has to do with a post, then let’s put it with the post, as you did here. The Chat Room is good for the miscellaneous stuff. Suntse


  6. leahluna55 says:

    Twoosocks, I’m glad you see the real dimension of this story. What you said about the women is true, they’re are constantly struggling with themselves as every human being on earth.
    Colin as Calum is superb, as I said before Colin is Calum and Calum is Colin. He is a natural storyteller!
    Merlin came first but it was through Calum that I really fell in love with him.
    Welcome to the club of “fans enchanted by Calum”.
    The book you mentioned (Mujeres que corren con los lobos de Pinkola) is really good! It was an eye opener for me using Colin’s words.


  7. Twosocks says:

    Leah–I actually read the book quite a while back, but think I will take another look. Looks like she also has a few new ones that look interesting. Thank you, Colin, because that stack of books I need to read keeps getting bigger! And seeing Colin in all these different roles seems to add new dimensions to each of them.

    Somewhat prided myself that I could translate most of that title! There was a magazine that I used to see in the supermarket racks called Siempre Mujer (sp?), I think. Always a Woman? Forever a Woman? The Forever Woman? I know they were probably just selling cosmetics, etc., but I liked the title!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Twosocks says:

    Suntse–hoped this was the right place. Really enjoyed reading both yours and Leah’s posts and finding that I was in total agreement with everything you both said. Best part of this blog–so much to think about. One of the great things about what is called “mindless knitting” is that your hands can be busy while your brain just goes anywhere it wants! I like where mine has been going lately.

    Liked by 1 person

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