The Endless Summer
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They call it The Endless Summer the ultimate surfing adventure, crossing the glob in search of the perfect wave. From the uncharted waters of West Africa, to the shark-filled seas of Australia, to the tropical paradise of Tahiti and beyond, these California surfers accomplish in a few months what most people never do in a lifetime... They live their dream.
Director Bruce Brown creates a film so powerful it has become a timeless masterpiece that continues to capture the imagination of every new generation. When it first played in theaters, audiences lined up to see it again and again, spellbound by its thrilling excitement and awesome photography. But in fact, what's most compelling about the film is the sport of surfing itself, and once you've seen it, you ll never forget why.
Brilliant, a perfect movie, a great movie --The New Yorker
A dazzling ode to sun, sand and surf! --Time
Breathtaking! Sweeping and exciting! --Newsweek
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Top Customer Reviews
This was a low budget affair, but the camera-work and richness of color is quite impressive. Most of the footage was shot silent with sound-effects and narration and occassional music added later. Don't expect to hear the Beach Boys, or the Ventures or even Dick Dale on the soundtrack--you won't. You won't get MTV fast edits, or occassional messages about pollution, over-population, or politics either.
Most refreshing of all is that you won't see a lot of ads for sneakers or cars, or sporting goods plastered all over the surfboards or cars of the surfers either. It was a less chaotic, simpler time.
The movie follows two young surfers Robert August and Mike Hynson as they follow Summer around the world. First after leaving their native California and the crowded beaches of Malibu, Santa Cruz and Newport Beach (the Wedge) they travel to Africa and surf places probably no one has ever surfed before (and have to be careful not to step on dangerous and lethal stone fish). The natives are fascinated by the California surfers and their sport. Soon Robert and Mike are giving surf lessons to the natives. They hitch a ride with an African Game Hunter and travel along the coast with a perfect tour guide. They find the perfect wave. In Australia, Mike and Robert don't have good luck and are told the best time to surf in Australia isn't in the Summer (which is the U.S.'s late fall, early winter), but in the winter. They have a little better luck in New Zealand, and as they go off to Tahiti they are told there is very little to surf in Tahiti. Ah but there turns out to be plenty to surf in Tahiti. Then Mike and Robert are off to Hawaii for two months where water and air temperatures are 75 degrees.
While there will be a few folks who will find Bruce Brown's narration (Bruce an early surfing enthusiast wrote, directed, photographed, edited and narrated this film) annoying, most will find his disarming, tongue in cheek humorous laid back narration utterly charming. And there are no contests or points or organized competitions taking place. It's simply a film about two surfing dudes in 1965 travelling around the world to catch a wave.
28 years later, Bruce Brown would make a well produced sequel to this documentary Endless Summer 2. It's got better production values, more exciting surfing action.... but it lacks the simple purity of this film.
A gem. If I've sparked any positive curiousity in you about this film, you'll enjoy it. ...
The plot, while not very important, follows surfers Bruce Brown (director, writer, and narrator of the film), Mike Hynson, and Robert August as they travel around the world in search of "the perfect wave". Key spots include Hawaii, California, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti. The title derives from the idea of following the summer around the world.
It should be noted that knowledge of surfing is NOT required to enjoy this film (I, for example, knew nothing about the sport). This aspect is Bruce Brown's greatest achievement. The film is incredible in it accessibility. Brown narrates, and from the get-go, he is welcoming, light-hearted, and occasionally quite funny. The soundtrack for the movie is provided by The Sandals, and their music, including the film's now iconic theme song, sets the perfect mood. It also doesn't hurt that the sport of surfing is hypnotic and very fun to watch, especially with the great talents Brown is able to capture (Butch Van Artsdalen and Miki Dora are definite highlights). The film is beautifully shot, usually from the shore, but every once in a while from the surfboard itself.
I hesitate to call The Endless Summer a "great" documentary in the same class as Crumb, For All Mankind, Gimme Shelter, Dear Zachary, or the films of Allan King. It's kinda one-note, probably runs a good 15 minutes too long, and isn't exactly deep. But then again, it doesn't really have to be. What Bruce Brown exceeds at is capturing a mood and sense of fun. When Mike or Robert pull off a great ride, teach a few natives how to surf (in one of the film's most hilarious, though not exactly politically correct scenes), and of course, finally find that perfect wave in Southern Africa, you're just as excited as they are. No, The Endless Summer is not profound or thought-provoking cinema, but one aspect of it is undeniable: It's fun. Sometimes that's more than enough.