Classics you cannot miss . . .
Infinite Catalyst | Monument, CO | 06/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These films are like the 80's movies that made everything that mattered happen. Ferris, Goonies, Breakfast Club, etc . . . except they are surfing classics, epic documentaries if you will. **Bruce Brown has the classic surfer aesthetic, and narrates each film poignantly and humorously. Endless Summer 1 is the classic older film, paced a little more slowly and fun-lovingly. It sets a great preface to Endless 2, an incredible multi-hemisphere journey. Both films have excellent cinematography as well as dialogue and interplay between characters. Endless 2 is as goofily trivial as it is deep, as beautiful as it is mundane. . . There are gorgeous scenery shots that do Cape Town, Indonesia, Figi, (my fav) and Alaska, justice as incredible places not only to surf, but also to just be. Our two fascinating and yin and yang protagonists, 1, a Pat O'Connell gives suffusively satisfying short board licks, and 2, a. wing-nut supplies all of the long board smoothness to coalesce. Five stars, in my to 25 of all time. A truly beautiful film made by those who love life."
More than surfing
David Rylander | Texas | 08/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fascinating collection of films that span several decades. Of course, this is a must-see for anyone interested in surfing. However, it also has value to people who might never set foot on a board.
Endless Summer I was filmed in the early 60s, when most of the world was unaware of surfing. Two young surfers set out on a bold journey around the world to find new places to surf. Much of the entertainment in this film comes from the different cultures and characters they meet around the world. One of my favorites was an intriguing experience with an African village. This film is considered a classic documentary in the surfing world, and it probably had a lot to do with the spread of surfing around the world.
Endless Summer II was filmed almost 30 years after the first one, but it was filmed by the same man and includes one of the original surfers from the first film. Modern advances in surfing and filming are quite evident after watching the two films together. ESII has some dramatic surfing video, including remarkable footage from some of today's most famous surfers. Two new young surfers follow a similar path to ESI, including visits to some of the same places along with new places (e.g., Costa Rica). As with ESI, the film is as much about the characters and cultures as the surfing.
The third part of The Endless Summer Collection is a nice follow-up to the first two documentaries. You get a lot of behind the scenes stories about the films and how they came to be. If you enjoyed the Endless Summer films, you will be interested to see what has happened to some of the characters and to learn more about the story behind the films.
I don't know how you can watch this collection without wanting to go out to the beach and get on a board!"
Fine Gifts, But Not The Finest, From One of Surfing's Ambass
J. E. Barnes | Bayridge, Brooklyn, New York | 06/18/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Bruce Brown's 'The Endless Summer' (1964) was his first nationally distributed surf film, and also the first on which he spent more than six months on the filming and editing. After a slightly shaky start, 'The Endless Summer,' which features a haunting instrumental theme by the Sandals, eventually became a worldwide hit both critically and commercially, and is recognized today as a sports documentary classic.
However, 'The Endless Summer' isn't necessarily better than Brown's excellent, if more amateurish, first five surf films ('Slippery When Wet,' 1958, 'Surf Crazy,' 1959, 'Barefoot Adventure,' 1960, 'Surfing Hollow Days,' 1961, and the compilation film, 'Waterlogged,' 1962), which have only recently found wide distribution via The Bruce Brown Golden Years Of Surf Collection 1958-1963.
In fact, Brown's earlier efforts are in many ways somewhat better. Though 'The Endless Summer' is more professionally filmed, more tightly framed by the quest alluded to in the title, and somewhat more polished and 'dignified,' it also has some faults the earlier, more exuberant films lack.
The most pronounced of these are the scenes filmed in Accra, Ghana, where Brown's narration as the surfers interact with the African natives often comes across as smarmy at worst and awkward at best, even for those [thankfully] politically incorrect times.
Brown was used to publicly poking good-hearted fun at his surfing buddies, but he intermittently falls on his face when applying the same Westernized cultural formula to pass judgment on a people "who had probably never seen a white man before." Suggesting that the Ghanese fishermen might be cannibals, for example, was both too obvious a bad joke and simply in poor taste (to be fair to Brown, he says that many viewers have told him that the Ghana scenes are among the film's most memorable).
Additionally, the scenes filmed in equatorial Africa simply aren't very interesting, having, as they do, less to do with actual surfing and more to do with the group's understandable culture shock at their immediate immersion in an utterly strange civilization. Brown should be commended for the honesty of his approach and observations; nonetheless, it's unfortunate his narration on this segment wasn't somewhat more sophisticated.
Once Brown and fellow surfers Robert August and Mike Hyson reach Cape Town to rendezvous with notable local surfer John Whitmore, the film brightens considerably, presumably because Brown, or the entire trio, was back on more comfortable footing. The portion of the film set in South Africa, culminating of the trio's discovery of Cape St. Francis and its "long, utterly perfect waves," is the highpoint of 'The Endless Summer.'
Tall, dark-haired Robert August was the affable, 18-year old son of well-known surfer Blackie August, and had already worked extensively with Brown in earlier films.
Why Brown specifically selected Mike Hynson remains a mystery, though the shorter, blond Hynson certainly made a strong visual contrast to August. There's something slightly off-putting about Hynson, who would go on to have a troubled life but also become a respected board shaper. Presumably, sunnier personalities Brown had used in the past, such as Henry Ford, Kemp Aaberg, or Mike Diffenderfer (or the poker-faced Del Cannon) were unavailable for the extended travel necessary to make the film (scenes of Cannon establishing a record by becoming the first person to surf Japanese coastal waters were filmed for 'The Endless Summer,' but eventually edited out).
'The Endless Summer' additionally takes its audience to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and, briefly, to California and Hawaii. Among the well-known surfers briefly seen are Miki Dora, Nat Young, Phil Edwards, Greg Noll, Corky Carroll, and Butch Van Artsdalen.
Thirty years later, Brown apparently came out of filmmaking retirement to make 'The Endless Summer II' (1994), which features Pat O'Connell and Robert "Wingnut" Weaver on a similar trip in search of the perfect wave while chasing the shifting summer around the globe.
While fairly spirited and clearly well-intentioned, 'The Endless Summer II' is, like Philip Boston's 'Billabong Odyssey' (2003) and Dana Brown's 'Step Into Liquid' (2003), but unlike Stacy Peralta's 'Riding Giants' (2004), too slick and soulless for its own good, and lacks most of the simple charm and vision that made Brown's earlier films so immediate, warm, and three-dimensional. Paradoxically, rarely do technological advances in photography make for better or more evocative surfing documentaries.
The Endless Summer Collection is rounded out with the interesting 'The Endless Summer Revisited' (2000), which features abundant footage of Brown, his son, Dana Brown, Greg Noll, Robert August, Dale Velzy, Nat Young, Hobie Alter, Pat O'Connell, Wingnut Weaver, and other legends of the sport discussing the creation of the films and their impact upon surfing as well as on the larger world."