23 September 2017



TIME MAGAZINE: "Brown leaves analysis of the surf-cult mystique to seagoing sociologists, but demonstrates quite spiritedly that some of the brave souls mistaken for beachniks are, in fact, converts to a difficult, dangerous and dazzling sport".

ROGER EBERT: "The beautiful photography he brought home almost makes you wonder if Hollywood hasn't been trying too hard".

I wouldn't normally choose to watch a film about surfing and surfers, but Bruce Brown presents his material in such a casual, easy and funny style that you can quite easily watch this movie and enjoy it, without being battered over the head with too much technical lingo, details or facts at all.

Therein lies the strength of the film-maker, a man who apparently didn't go to film school or have much formal training in the trade at all. This makes his finished product all the more incredible. It's as polished and flawless a surfing film as you're ever likely to see and, speaking for myself, I've only ever seen the one. This one, haha. Luckily, it's a good 'un.

Bruce Brown, born in 1937 and still alive, fair play to him, was an early pioneer of the surfing film, but he's also famous for having made ON ANY SUNDAY, a film I reviewed recently about motorcycling. Before watching this one, I would have put motorcycling on a par with surfing (lol!) as being, like, the most boring sport known to man, but this film was actually fascinating.

Co-produced by and featuring Steve McQueen, a passionate (and extremely sexually magnetic) motorcycle enthusiast in his day, it showed the viewer an amazing glimpse into the lives of men who follow the major motorbike racing events and competitions around the United States and even around the world at large.

They're the guys who, on any Sunday, could be found tinkering about with their bikes and breathing in the testosterone-fuelled smells of motorbike oil and other men. It seemed to me, though, as if these blokes weren't just devoting Sundays to their grande passion but every other bloomin' day of the week as well, making a mockery of their marriages and their relationships with their wives, girlfriends and kiddies.

Seemed to me, also, as if every single one of these blokes would have chosen their bikes over their wives any day of the week but, hey, what do I know? I'm just a woman. I only run on love and anxiety and worry and heartache and real human emotions, not motor oil, so my opinions couldn't possibly matter to anyone who ever lovingly polished a fender with a stinky bit of chammy leather, so there...!

Anyway, we're meant to be talking about surfing here, and in particular THE ENDLESS SUMMER. It feels sad to me to be reviewing this documentary movie now in mid-September, when the pathetic few rainy weeks that passed for our own Summer this year are pretty much a distant memory at this stage. (I'm actually a Winter-and-Autumn-loving gothic type myself, but I pretend to like Summer to fit in with everyone else. Is it working...? Can you tell...?)

Still, THE ENDLESS SUMMER kind of makes you feel like Summer is still a possibility, however distant. You should watch it if you feel like bringing a bit of sunshine back into your life. It does for surfing what ON ANY SUNDAY did for motorcycling and it probably is the most famous movie about surfing ever made. Don't ask me how many there are. I've already told you that I've only seen this one, haha.

It was a huge commercial success when it was released anyway, proving that more people than just surf addicts went out and paid good money to watch it. Bruce Brown and his camera are basically following a pair of young male American surfers, Mike Hynson and Robert August,
around the world as they discover new and exciting and even dangerous places to surf.

The idea of THE ENDLESS SUMMER is an appealing one. The idea is that, if you were possessed of enough money and free time, you could actually follow the season of Summer around the world, going seamlessly from, say, a Californian Summer to an Australian one. That way, you could avail of good surfing all year round without having to sit out any miserable cold Winters, hugging your precious surfboard and tub of surfboard-wax with a big long face on you.

Bruce Brown follows the two lads as they travel to the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa in search of the so-called perfect wave, which apparently does in fact exist. Although I must point out that the odds against finding it are, like, a million to one. It says so in the film so it must be true.

What normally happens to surfers, as well, is quite funny. When they turn up anywhere for a good old surf, they're invariably told that they've just missed the really good surf by, like, a day. 'Aw man, you guys really missed it! You should have been here yesterday...' Apparently, that happens to surfers wherever they go. Quite the annoying little head-wreck, eh?

Anyway, while the lads are there, they introduce any willing or curious locals to the sport of surfing, they check out the local flora and fauna, including the women in their bikinis, and generally act as good-natured, enthusiastic and all-American ambassadors to surfing, which has been described by TIME magazine as 'a difficult, dangerous and dazzling sport.' It's not just about a load of beach bums dossing about on the beach in their knickers trying to avoid gainful employment. Real, serious surfing, done well, is an art like any other.

I loved the bit where the African chief had a go on one of their boards. And you can't very well ask an African chief to hurry the f**k up and give you your goddamned board back. You just gotta wait till he's good and done. The lads had to be careful not to violate any local or religious taboos while they were in places like Africa. Upsetting the natives when you're that far away from home might ensure that you end up in the hot water. With pepper and salt and a few nice spices for tasting, haha.

I learned quite a lot about surfing from this film. More than I'll ever need to know, if I'm honest, but so what. It was good fun picking up all the tips, like, an unattended surfboard coming at you at full power can cut you in half, it's easy to be distracted by lady surfers in teensy-weensy yellow polka-dot bikinis and, in certain parts of the world, you gotta watch out for 'the men in the grey suits.' Can you guess who these are? Funniest line in the whole thing, this, next to the film-makers thanking 'old King Neptune' in the credits for 'providing the waves in this film...!'

THE ENDLESS SUMMER is available to buy now from SECOND SIGHT FILMS in conjunction with AIM PUBLICITY, along with some terrific extra features. So too is ON ANY SUNDAY, a motorcycling documentary also by Brian Brown. Described by THE NEW YORKER as 'the perfect movie,' THE ENDLESS SUMMER is considered to be the definitive surf movie of all time. Again, don't ask me how many others there are, I've only ever seen this one...!



Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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