We’re halfway through July. This week I’ll be continuing my spotlight on essential summer movies. My selection this week is a documentary. If you love catching waves, then you must see the documentary The Endless Summer. It’s a great look at surfing and surfing culture.
The Endless Summer was directed by Bruce Brown. He also serves as the film’s narrator. The documentary follows two surfers: Mike Hynson and Robert August as the embark on a surfing trip around the world. What makes the film so compelling isn’t just seeing the surfing footage. It’s the way we really get to know the two main characters, including their personalities and get involved in their world.
The film starts off in California, where Mike and Robert enjoying surfing in the balmy temperatures. But once they embark on their international trek, things get really interesting. They get challenged by the elements, especially when they hit cold ocean currents. The cooler currents make the beaches inhospitable during the winter months. It’s interesting seeing how these Californian’s react in the cooler climates.
Another reason to see The Endless Summer is the exotic locations. Mike and Robert travel to a great range of places: New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Ghana, and South Africa, to name a few. The location photography of all the locations is absolutely stunning to look at. And we also get to see the protagonists surf while experiencing new cultures. As a bonus, the film has cameos by other important surfers of the time: Mike Dora and Phil Edwards.
Most documentaries are very formal. But The Endless Summer mixes formal interviews with more casual ones as we get immersed in the world of the surfers. And the film wisely lets the wry humor of its characters come through. You come for surfing footage, but end up getting complete portraits of the surfers themselves.
The Endless Summer also benefits from a fun soundtrack by The Sandals. And it’s worth mentioning that when it was released, it helped birth the surf and travel culture, encouraging people to surf while meeting new people and finding perfect waves the world over.
I have to confess I have never gone surfing or had any desire to try it. But I was absolutely enthralled by The Endless Summer. I enjoyed seeing all the great locations and getting to understand what it is that draws people to the sport. Even if you’ve never picked up a surf board in your life, you should still see The Endless Summer. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it.