Way back in 1966, documentary filmmaker Bruce Brown followed two young surfers around the world in their quest for the perfect wave. It seems as if it were just the three of them - the two surfers and Bruce Brown who filmed that magical year with a hand-held Technicolor camera with no sound. Later, he edited the film and narrated it and his is the only voice we hear in addition to some original music by "The Sandals". There are no sounds of the surf, no remarks from the two surfers and we never hear the voices of all the colorful characters they meet along the way.
The concept was to surf on beaches that had never been surfed before. This led them Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti. And, naturally California and Hawaii. Sometimes the surf was to their liking. Sometimes it was not. But always it was an adventure, the kind of adventure that I quickly got caught up in even though it all seemed like a home movie and the camera was old fashioned. I remember one spot where there is a long smooth wave to ride and the narrator notes that the wave was so long that he ran out of film, stopped shooting, changed the film, and was able to continue filming the surfer on the same wave.
As the film was made in 1966, it expressed a view of the world that is not politically correct today. For example, there are a lot of little jokes about the "natives" in an African tribe. But in spite of the words, it was obvious that everyone in the tribe enjoyed watching the surfers. Later, with the help of our surfers, these "natives" tried it themselves and soon were improvising their own surfboards.
There are a lot of beaches in the world. But the sport was perfected in Hawaii as pure recreation. That's the way the Hawaiians lived for centuries. Our two surfers came from California, a place very much influenced by Hawaiian surfers.
Other details about 1966 stood out and made me smile. For example, a luxury hotel in Senegal cost $30 per night, which they thought was outlandishly expensive. Gas cost $1.00 a gallon in Africa, a very high cost. And the hairstyles of the two light-haired and sometimes sunburned surfers were short and slicked back with lots and lots of grease. Also, the bodies of the surfers did not look like the surfers today. The two men had narrow chests and the musculature in their arms and legs was just enough to handle their surfboards. Obviously, they never worked out in a gym. They just rode those waves. And loved every minute of it.
This is a film that was made with the pure love of the sport. It is indeed a classic. And a "must" for anyone interested surfing.