Saturday, July 9, 2011

Endless Summer (1966).

One of the most iconic summer films is the surf doc "Endless Summer" filmed in 1966. These early surf enthusiasts traveled from Africa to Australia, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii and beyond in search of the perfect wave. Its a beautifully chill film, filled with blissful sunset shots of beach and ocean. The title comes from the concept that with enough time and money, one could spend his or her life chasing summer around the globe, constantly escaping the winter season. It boasts a surf-rock soundtrack by The Sandals. And the now classic "Theme to the Endless Summer".

The story of how the film came about is quite remarkable. In the winter of 1958, director Bruce Brown went to Hawaii to do some filming of the surf scene. On the plane ride, the novice filmmaker read a book about how to make movies. Brown said, "I never had formal training in filmmaking and that probably worked to my advantage".  After a series of small surf films and traveling around the world he edited his best footage into "Endless Summer" and took copies to several Hollywood studio distributors. Each one rejected the film because they claimed it lacked mainstream appeal.  In January, he took The Endless Summer to Wichita, Kansas to run in a local theatre for two weeks. Moviegoers lined up in snowy dead of weather and it sold out multiple screenings. Distributors were still not convinced and Brown rented a theater in New York City where his film ran successfully for a year proving the appeal of chilled out surf footage and soundtrack. 

Reviews for the film were as buoyant as the film itself.  Ebert said of the film:  "the beautiful photography he brought home almost makes you wonder if Hollywood hasn't been trying too hard". A Time reviewer wrote, "Brown leaves analysis of the surf-cult mystique to seagoing sociologists, but demonstrates quite spiritedly that some of the brave souls mistaken for beachniks are, in fact, converts to a difficult, dangerous and dazzling sport". And the New York Times reviewer said, "the subject matter itself — the challenge and the joy of a sport that is part swimming, part skiing, part sky-diving and part Russian roulette — is buoyant fun."  The film's legacy remains,  the then-unknown break off Cape St. Francis in South Africa is now one of the world's most famous surfing sites after it was shown in the film and the the United States National Film Registry has preserved the film, deeming it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Its a great film to watch on some lazy, warm summer evening. 


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