Top Ten Surf Movies - Part One - Kenzine, the Kenzo official blog

You are looking at all posts filed under: movies see all posts

Load previous posts

Sun, sand and surfing make one immediately think of California, our key inspiration for the KENZO Spring/Summer 2014 collection. Guillaume Le Goff presents the second part of his list of top ten surf films from the past 50 years. 

read more

 

"Lords of Dogtown" (2005)

“They came from nothing to change everything…”: that's a fact, there was a ‘before’ and ‘after’ the Z Boyz. "DogTown & Z-Boyz" (2001), was initially a documentary film about the birth of skateboarding in a beach and surf culture era, more precisely around Venice Beach (aka "Dogtown") and Santa Monica. The documentary was directed by Stacy Peralta, narrated by Sean Penn, and with original contributions by Zephyr Skate's co-founder Craig Stecyk and legendary photographer Glen E. Friedman. Brilliantly executed and a huge success worldwide, it spoke about the emergence of skateboarding in ‘70s Dogtown and the dominating role of "local surf and skate heros" such as Jay Adams, Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta from the Zephyr skateboard Team (or Z Boys). Along with board designer and manager Skip Engblom, these vanguards really shaped the surf/skate transition and contributed to spread the word of skateboarding by riding the streets, schoolyards and of course, all those empty Californian pool bowls – the promised land.
The film "Lords of Dogtown" (2005), directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Stacy Peralta, is based on the original story. With a side dish of Hollywood drama, a neat screenplay and to the mellow sounds of Neil Young, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, it brought the Californian skate genesis to the eyes and minds of millions of people around the world.
 

 

"Chasing Mavericks" (2012)

 

Also based on a true story, "Chasing Mavericks" was the latest big surf blockbuster to come out of Hollywood. 8 year-old Jay (James) Moriarty is rescued from drowning by big wave surfer Frosty Hesson, who some years later takes on the role as James's mentor, and coaches James to his extreme limits in order to achieve his lifetime dream: surf Mavericks, a legendary spot that nobody thinks is even real. Mavericks is one of the biggest waves on the planet, created once a decade by the Northern Californian winter swells at half Moon Bay, near Santa Cruz, California. After months of intense and emotional preparation, one day the wave arrives. Before a large crowd gathered on the beach and on boats, James, after a memorable wipeout at first attempt (caught on camera and making the cover of Surfer magazine), gets back on his board and finally conquers Mavericks at only just 16. His legend lives now forever.
 

 

"Endless Summer" (1966)

 

A cornerstone of the surf film genre, "Endless Summer" introduced the real surfing experience to a broader audience, and inspired the birth of the phenomenal ‘surf lifestyle’:  going to ride around the world just for the pleasure of being on a beach, in the sun and living it up with friends.
For the first time on screen, filmmaker/narrator Bruce Brown, a passionate Californian surfer himself, follows two young local surfers, Mike Hynson and Robert August, willing to experience an endless summer in search of the perfect wave. To accomplish their dream, they travel to new surf spots (most of them never seen and ridden before) including Ghana, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand or the famous Cape St. Francis break in Cape Town. Along the way, they enlist famous surf figures like Rodney Sumpter and Nat Young, as well as local heroes who become friends for life. Upon its release, Time magazine described it as “a dazzling ode to sun, sand and surf”, while The New Yorker offered it as a “brilliant, perfect movie”. With a beautiful original soundtrack by The Sandals, it's often considered the best surfing film of all time; a key to understanding the culture of surf and most importantly, about feeling good.
 

 

"One California Day" (2007)

 

Rebuking the trend for surf documentaries that were dealing with increasingly trendy new destinations, "One California Day" is a collection of stories, experiences and surf spots woven together into an enjoyable film by directors Mark Jeremias and Jason Baffa, both Cali born and raised. Superbly shot in 16 mm color film, it captures beautiful locations from Crescent City in the North to Imperial Beach in the South near San Diego. For Jeremias and Baff, there’s no need to go far to experience the fun and freedom offered by short or long board riding: California's beaches and coastal spots, with its charming people, traditions and original history, has everything to offer for those looking for a good day of surfing. Shooting with top surfers Joe Curren, Lance Carlson, Alex Knost and Joel Tudor, they even caught a Big Wednesday historical swell of the decade up North; thus making One California Day an epically perfect one.
 

 

"Little Victories"(2013)

 

"Little Victories" is a simple and joyful 30 minute surf film directed by Perry Gershkow (a filmmaker from Marin County, CA) that conducts us along the California north coast in search of new terrains to explore. Here, every single wave conquered is a "little victory" for the protagonists: a bunch of good friends who live for surfing with smooth style and great tricks, including some local rippers like Tyler Payne, Colin Dwyer, Bryce Adams and Jordan Stern. Watch this humble piece, appreciate its beautiful vibe and great rock soundtrack and there are high chances that you will think about booking a ticket to Santa Cruz or San Francisco to finally witness this cool madness for yourself.

 

Other films & documentaries to watch :


"Thicker Than Water" (2000)

"Momentum" (2001)

"Step into Liquid" (2003)

"A Broke Down Melody" (2004)

"These are Better days" (2004)

"The Seedling", "Sprout", "The Present" (2007-2009)

"Stoked & Broke" (2010)

"The Ductumentary" (2013)

"Secret Sound" (2013)


 

California's long coastline means that surfing has been a quintessential part of the culture since the 1960s. In additon to California being Carol and Humberto's home state, the almost-mythical power of 'big waves' inspired one of our key prints of the KENZO Spring/Summer 2014 collection. For those of you who have not yet had the chance to experience the California surf lifestyle for yourselves, let Guillaume Le Goff transport you there with his selection of ten great surf movies. 

read more

 

"Big Wednesday" (1978)

 

"Big Wednesday - the story of every generation growing up…" went the tagline when the film first came out; one of the first major surf movies and the work of director John Millus – a native of California. The film spans a decade in the life of three young, talented Californian friends and surfers: Matt Johnson, Jack Barlowe and Leroy Smith. To each his own personality and experience but what they have in common is a destiny: to one day ride the world’s biggest wave. From ‘62 to ‘74, through early youth, the Vietnam war and subsequent loss of innocence followed by transition into adulthood, ‘Big Wednesday’ invites the audience to classic Californian beach spots in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Malibu, and Hawaii (Pupukea). In the end, Matt, Jack and Leroy reunite for the ‘74 Great Swell. They’re going to face the biggest challenge of their lives, and risk it all on this unique and long-awaited "Big Wednesday". With incredible surf images and a strong plot, BW was predicted to achieve the success of Star Wars or Jaws by Spielberg himself but failed to gain the recognition it deserved. At last, it is now a cult surf movie.

 

 


 

 

"Point Break" (1991)

 

“100% Adrenaline” was how Point Break was presented upon its release. Faithful to the word, the movie won over audiences and critics alike with its memorable surf (and sky-diving) sequences, legendary casting and a fast plot. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Point Break was the film that launched then-rookie actor Keanu Reeves to stardom (he was subsequently awarded "Most Desirable Male" at the 1992 MTV Movie Awards). First titled "Johnny Utah" (after Reeves’ character’s name in the movie) then "Riders on the Storm" (after The Doors song), "Point Break" was finally chosen by the producers as a clear reference to the surf world. Indeed, Point Break tells the story of two cops hunting down a bunch of Californian surfers who rob banks, the "Ex-Presidents": more in search of adrenaline than money. The closing scene of the "50-Year Storm" (in Victoria, Australia) presented some of the biggest waves ever seen on screen… And, thank God, Keanu is still a surfer today.
 

 

"In God's hands" (1998)

 

After Point Break's success, Hollywood wanted to offer an even bigger surf movie to the public. Along came "In God's hands", produced by actor Charlie Sheen and singer/actor Bret Michaels, and directed by Zalman King (9 1/2 Weeks, Wild Orchid). IGH tells the story of a group of big wave riders looking for the ultimate ride of their life. Hopping between the most dangerous and exotic spots around the world (Bali, Madagascar, Hawai, Mexico), three young pro surfers Shane (Patrick Shane Dorian - who spent 11 years touring the Surf World Championship Tour as a real pro surfer from Hawaii), Mickey (co-script writer Matt Georges) and Keoni (Matty Liu) are living fast but never lose sight of their ambitions: surfing the biggest waves on earth, that is until the dramatic (but happy) ending. On-the-water footage was shot by notorious director of water photography Sonny Miller (Die Another Day), whose exceptional angles add a nice twist to “In God’s Hands”.
 

 

"Once Upon a Wave" (1963)

 

Shot in color by Walt Phillips (Sunset Surf Craze…) between 1959 and 1962, "Once Upon a Wave" takes you on a 48 minute tour along the California coast, introducing some of the region’s best waves and most stylish riders.  Enjoy Dewey Weber, Miki Dora or Lance Carson perfecting a line on Surf Rider Beach; big wave riders Fred Van Dyke, Peter Cole and Ricky Grigg on Sunset Beach (Huntington) and legends like Mike Doyle and Robert August, who in their quest for the ultimate ride, show us how to control a board in such locations as Steamer Lane (Santa Cruz) or Haleiwa (Oahu North Shore, Hawaii). Considered a vintage surf safari, "Once Upon a Wave" is a testimony of a purer time – gone, but never forgotten.
 

 

"Riding Giants" (2004)

 

Written and directed by Stacy Peralta (Lords of Dogtown) and the first documentary to ever open the Sundance film festival, "Riding Giants" is an impressive piece about legendary pioneers surfers who dedicated their lives to Big Wave riding: among them Greg Noll, Gerry Lopez, Jeff Clark, Mickey Munoz, or more recently Laird Hamilton.  "Before mankind ever walked on the moon, a few young men stepped off the ledge of the earth and carved out a new way of life…” This is how the opening line of "Riding Giants" sets the scene, before charting how those incredible characters - real “water astronauts of their era" - living on nothing but their raw passion came to defy the forces of the ocean to invent a whole new lifestyle. Starting from Waimea Bay, Hawaii (where it all began) in the ‘50s and ‘60s, to Mavericks in Northern California in the ‘70s and ‘80s, they set up the big wave blueprint for generations to come.  As Greg Noll recounts in the film, they didn't care about dying; they just lived to surf the biggest wave. With a deep spirit and vision, a lot of archive footage, interviews and amazing surf scenes, "Riding Giants" remains today an essential reference.