Surf films have changed throughout the years, from Bruce Browns seminal flick, "The Endless Summer", which features two travelling Californian longboarders chasing warm water, sunshine and perfect waves around the world, to Noa Deanes' latest hi-fi masterpiece, "Head Noise", that closes with one of the meanest alley oops ever captured on camera.
One thing that has remained the same though is the power of surf films to stir our imagination, top up our froth 'O' metres and whisk us away to dreamlike destinations that range from the tropical (Indonesia) to the remote (Africa) and the sharky (Australia) to the downright frigid (Iceland).
But surf films can also be shit. I still remember taking my surfing girlfriend at the time to see "Blue Crush". She was the local hottie, responsible for many crispy socks throughout the town I'm sure. Young and eager to please, I thought this act of romance would kill two birds with one stone. My initiative would pay off in the form of a kiss and perhaps even some innocent over-the-clothes fondling. She'd be excited to watch a movie about female surfers charging Hawaii. We sat up the back and I put my arm around her. No yawn maneuvre necessary.
All was well in the world... until the film actually began. 5 minutes in was all the time I needed to realised it was a disingenuous massacre of surfing's image. An image I worshipped. I wanted to chew my arm off to get out of there, but saner minds prevailed.
I learnt two things that day. One, sacrifice is a necessary part of every relationship, and two, I'll never watch another surf movie out of Hollywood ever again. I can't even remember if I scored a kiss.
My point is, surf films have to be authentic. Sure, they can also be wondrous, informative and entertaining, but for me, they need to be real first and foremost.
With that being said, here are the five surf movies that occupy a permanent place on my computer's hard drive and in my mind's eye. Enjoy.
1. The Endless Summer II - Bruce Brown - Watch it here.
The Endless Summer II is a certified classic with loveable characters, tongue-in-cheek narration from the director, Bruce Brown, and of course an exciting story that takes us around the world on the hunt for the perfect wave. If you haven't seen it, I'd argue that you're life is by default, less enriched than mine.
2. Young Guns 2 - Quicksilver - Watch it here.
What is Young Guns II? Well, if you took a large boat, a few jetskis, a helicopter, a firing-on-all-cylinders soundtrack (Wolfmother!) and a tropical surf playground, then threw Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds, Ry Craike, Fred Patacchia, Troy Brooks, Jeremy Flores, Alain Riou, Clay Marzo and Julian Wilson into the mix, you'd get Young Guns 2.
A surf movie to watch if you ever find yourself going on a trip to the Ments... or when you just want to watch some seriously high-performance surfing in quality waves. If I recall, it was also free when it came out. God bless you Tracks magazine.
3. Strange Rumblings in Shangri-La - Joe G - Watch it here
From the frosty shores of Iceland to the seductive coastline of Mozambique, to Brazil, Europe, Indonesia and god knows where else. This film is a vessel for the profound message that surfing is all about adventure. It's a dead set work of art and the world is better for its release.
I fell into a blissful slumber after watching it for the first time and awoke to find I'd rendered my mattress a sticky mess. I blame that Greenbush section for this wet, wet dream.
4. 3 Degrees - Matt Gye - Watch a clip here
3 Degrees put the "Cooli Crew"consisting of Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Dean "Dingo" Morrison on the map. It was an announcement to the surfing world that Australia's future was bright and starry. My mates and I used to throw this on after a session at our local and drool over the no holding back surfing that features throughout the film.
The heavily Aussie influenced soundtrack also helped inject a bit of attitude into every frame. Actually, can we have another surf movie just about Australians with just Australian music again please?
5. Castles in the Sky - Taylor Steele - Watch the trailer here
I love Castles in the Sky because it captures the beauty of the journey as its relates to surfing. It shows the flying, walking, driving and sailing we do to find the best waves, and it does this by using incredibly moving cinematography and an apt, if sometimes haunting soundtrack. Castles in the Sky is a celebration of the peripheral experiences that come with being a travelling surfer and a movie I turn to time and time again when I'm on the road.
Dane Reynolds in Iceland. Rob Machado in Peru. Dave Rastovich in India. Jordy Smith in Africa. Need I say more?
These movies are up there too, I just don't have any of them on my computer. Most are available online to watch for free if you're keen to rekindle your love for some old classics, or, fall head over heals for a couple of epic new clips. Except North Shore Doc, that thing is a relic!
Doped Youth, Campaign 2, Windows, North Shore Doc, Seperate Volume, Dear Suburbia, Lost Atlas, 7 Days 7 Slaves, Blue Horizon, First Chapter