Long before the days of shortboards, jetski tow-ins and video clip editing Bruce Brown made a classic surf movie and called it The Endless Summer.
ES is a documentary that follows two amicable young Americans, Robert August and Mike Hynson, as they travel the globe in search of perfect waves, uniterrupted blue skies and good, clean, old fashioned fun.
Watching ES in the year 2001 one rapidly becomes aware of how far surfing and movie making have come and how much surfing culture has changed since the year it was made, 1966. The contrast between ES and contemporary surf videos with their split-second edits, hard rock soundtracks, g-string clad girls and obscene language and behaviour, is
immense. ES portrays surfing as a wholesome pastime practiced by equally wholesome young people and Rob and Mike are perfect at perpetuating this ideal. In all the situations that they encounter, whether it is laughing with native people in Africa or making small talk with beach-babes in Australia our endearing duo are always cheerful and
gentlemanly. Atleast that's what Bob Brown's narration would have us believe.
The success of The Endless Summer owes much to the narration. Bob Brown's smooth Californian drawl gives the film a laid-back feel and although the jokes are corny there is no denying their good natured intent. Despite the relaxed pace ES still manages to take us to over a dozen locations - from California, to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and of course Hawaii.
The quality of waves and cinematography throughout ES is consistently high. Although Rob and Mike don't get perfect waves in every location they certainly get their fair share, if not a little more. And it is refreshing to watch old fashioned footage where the shots are long and
the frames aren't too close up. Bob Brown's frames take in the whole scene, as if you were watching from the beach. Giving us more of the scenery than just the surfer and immediate few metres surrounding him allows us to get an idea of the whole land/seascape and transports us
with Rob and Mike on their travels. Many modern surf movies fail to do this as they simply throw flashes of surf action at you without involving you in the whole experience.
A number of the locations visited are of particular interest to surfers due to the fact that they have changed so much since this film was made. When Rob and Mike visit South Africa they are joined by a handful of local surfers, some or whom have travelled hundreds of miles to meet them.
Bob's narrative explains the difficulty of finding someone to surf with along the huge stretch of southern coast. This is hard to imagine now that places like Jeffrey's Bay are inundated with the inhabitants of an ever expanding surfing community and visiting surfers by the plane
load. Rob and Mike find a spot called Cape Saint Francis with small but perfect right-handers peeling faultlessly across the bay and of course, nobody else for miles around.
The last stop before surfing's Mecca is Tahiti. Rob and Mike are apparently told that there are no waves in Tahiti. How absurd this seems now that we know this island to be the home of Teahupo'o, one of the world's meanest, heaviest and biggest waves. Our travellers manage
to find some small waves but nothing that hints at the magnitude of things to come.
Once again, one has to take into consideration the age of the film. Given this, the sound quality is perfectly respectable. No, the soundtrack won't give your sub-woofer a floor shaking workout, nor any sound from the surrounds. What we have here is 1 channel mono and that's all it really needs.