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Wednesday, August 3, 2011



"Sharks and porpoises have yet to integrate in South Africa."
-- Narrator

The Endless Summer is a 1966 documentary directed by Bruce Brown that focuses on two friends' worldwide trip to find the perfect wave. When Robert August and Michael Hynson decided to travel around the world in the hopes of finding new places to surf, Brown happily agreed to tag along in order to document their adventures. The gang travels from Africa to India to Australia to the shores of Hawaii in search of that rare perfect wave. Along the way, they introduce a number of locals to the sport of surfing.

I watched this film on the recommendation of a friend, who has consistently pushed me to give it a view. I finally broke down and did just that, and I do have to say that it's a rather entertaining flick if you've got some time to kill. I've always been fond of surfing-centric movies - growing up near the beach probably draws me towards these types of movies - like the 2004 documentary Riding Giants or the 2007 animated film Surf's Up. Fortunately, The Endless Summer proved to be no exception, even if it's a very different type of surfing movie than I have ever seen.

Because the film is of an older generation, there's a very different feel and vibe to its entire production. In a way, the movie itself is attempting to do what August and Hynson manage to accomplish by taking their talents around the world: they introduce surfing to the indigenous populations of a number of countries and societies. The narration and "storyline" of this documentary is so simplistic that it almost insults the intelligence, but I think that's what makes the movie all the more appealing. It's a very simple film, chalk full of beautiful images and scenery, providing a very visual experience that enhances the beauty and nature of surfing.

There's three facets of this film that make it a success. First and foremost is the cinematography. Rather than taking a massive amount of equipment on their worldwide tour, Brown chose to limit his filming equipment only to what he could carry. Still, he found a way to capture the beauty and essence of the sport and the scenery around it. At times, you can almost feel like you're right there with August and Hynson, surfing these exotic locations with them.

One of the more appealing parts of the film is actually the narration provided by Brown. At the beginning of the film, I was a little put off by what he was saying because it sounded a little bit dorky and out-of-context. He would make seemingly terrible puns that could only result in groan after groan (for an example of such, check out the quote at the beginning of this post). However, after a little while, you get used to Brown's narration, and it almost gives the film a more authentic feel. Rather than trying to sound official, Brown chooses to convey his own personality through his narration, and I think that ultimately benefits the movie's overall vibe.

Finally, I can't say enough about the film's musical score, crafted by the surf-rock band The Sandals. I'm sure they could have grabbed any surf-rock band to compose the music for the film and it would have been effective, but The Sandals do a very good job providing the atmosphere for the film as a whole. Here's a snippet of the score, in case you're interested:

Overall, The Endless Summer is a fine documentary that definitely provides an ample amount of entertainment. If you're into surfing or anything in relation to the ocean, this is definitely a movie for you. It's good, mindless fun, so don't expect anything over-the-top or exciting. We're just getting a great view of the start of surfing's reach across the world.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B+
1.5 Thumbs Up

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