Monday, June 20, 2016


This is one of the first films to break out of the commercial doldrums of the documentary genre to become widely popular with film audiences. Unfortunately, it's not a great film, and time has not been kind to its patronizing views of women and native peoples. Director Bruce Brown, a surfer himself, follows two surfers, Robert August and Mike Hynson, on their trek to experience an endless summer by jetting the globe and surfing wherever they can. The two visit (moving eastward from the United States) Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. In Africa, they find at least one beach with good surf where they become the first people ever to ride the waves. Also in Africa, they (or at last Brown, the narrator) take a rather backward attitude to the natives who are friendly but, to them, hopelessly primitive. They treat the village children and adults pretty much all as children--it's cute when they can't quite fathom how to surf. The boys also complain about how much it costs to stay at local hotels and how difficult it can be gain access to good surf. There is less of this as the journey progresses, though Brown also expresses amazement that women can surf--to be fair, not many did back then. The photography is lovely throughout, and occasionally the trip is interrupted by "flashbacks" to Hawaii. I'm not a surfer and am not especially interested in the sport--except insofar as I get to see well-built young men in swimming trunks--though even I was amazed at the risks these guys and their fellow surfers take sometimes. The film is entertaining and fast-moving enough, though the lack of actual recorded sound on location means the only voice we here is Brown's narrating after the fact, and he is, on balance, likably laid-back. Interesting for one visit, though I don't I imagine I'd re-watch this. But I wouldn't mind seeing seeing a current-day take on this subject. [DVD]

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