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Pure joy all the way! And absolutely great photography!
on July 10, 2004
It's not likely I'll every step onto a surfboard. But I do love to live vicariously. I was able to do that with this 2003 surfing documentary. Splendidly!
Written and directed by Dana Brown, the son of Bruce Brown, who created "The Endless Summer" in 1966 (and who appears in this film), the words that roll out with the opening credits are "No special effects. No stuntmen. No stereotypes". How refreshing!
The sport of surfing has come a long way since it started to become popular in the late 1950s. It was started in Hawaii, of course, hundreds of years ago. It was then, and always has been, purely recreational.
This film is about the pure joy of the sport and this comes through loud and clear in every frame. We see children having a blast. We see professional surfers. We see the fun a group of big beer-bellied guys in Sheboygan Wisconsin have when they put on wet suits and surf the small waves in the muddy waters of Lake Michigan as well as and surfers who actually surf in the waves made by oil rigs in Texas.. We see what is called the "pipeline" in Oahu and watch the experts in serious battle with nature. Here, the surfers know that injury is almost inevitable and they just hope that when it happens it is something that can be fixed. Later, we meet a young man whose neck was broken while surfing. He's paralyzed from the waist down but he still rides a surfboard on his belly.
It must be quite a thrill. And scary. Surfers say they think "I'm gonna die" often. But still they surf.
It's impossible to paddle out to the really big waves. The surfers need a buddy on a "ski tow" for this. This is a dangerous job because the guy on the ski tow has to rescue the surfer when he falls off his board.
We meet Dale Webster, a man who works in a fast food restaurant but who made a commitment to surf three waves every single day. He's been doing this for 25 years and will likely continue for many more, always supported by his family who understands his need to surf.
We meet the three Molloy brothers from California. They travel to Ireland, where their grandparents came from Here, they put on wet suits and surf the cold and dark turbulent waters. The locals are delighted, especially when they teach the children from both Catholic and Protestant schools to surf. The children are wonderful to watch and they enthusiastically speak on camera to the filmmakers.
We meet the men, now in their 60s, who were the original surfers in "The Endless Summer". One of them lives in Costa Rico now and he surfs with his grown son. We meet Australian champion surfers and learn what creativity in surfing is all about. Some of the surfers we meet are women who are wonderful athletes but tend not to go for the really tremendous waves.
Then there are the GIGANTIC waves. We follow a group of four surfers who have to take a boat 100 miles into the Pacific to catch these waves. Wow! There is a great shot of them surfing in a wave a full 66 feet high.
The cinematography is absolutely fantastic. Later, in one of the DVD's extra features, we meet the photographers and learn about the excitement and the danger of their craft. They have specially made housing for their cameras and do not have a lens to look through.. They have all been injured and recovered and came back and took more pictures. They specialize in surf photography because they, too, share the passion for the sport.
Yes, passion is what it's all about. I felt it while watching this film. And I stayed up way past my bedtime to watch all the fascinating extras. There's even a lesson on how to surf.
I give this film one of my highest recommendations. It's pure joy all the way.