10 surf movies you should definitely watch
Sometimes, when you’re stuck at home and can’t travel, all you want to do is escape to a place far away that is preferably very warm. So let me introduce you to my personal list of the 10 surf movies you should definitely watch.*
*I started this list in August after attending the Berlin Surf Film Festival, so this post has been a long time coming. But it’s December, so if you’re living in the Northern Hemisphere, you probably desperately need a break from winter. So essentially, perfect timing. 😉
1. The old, the Young and the Sea (Spain, France, Portugal)
The Old, the Young and the Sea tells the story of the lifestyle and the ideas behind surfing from different perspectives. Starting from the beginning of the surf movement in France and Spain in the 1950s, the movie tells the story of hobby surfers, expats, professional surfers and, scarily, big wave surfers along Europe’s Atlantic coast. If you are into the whole culture behind surfing and want to hear more what motivates people to always follow the perfect wave, this is the movie for you.
2. El Mar mi alma (Chile)
El mar, mi alma is a love song to the waves, land and people of Chile. Entirely shot in 16mm film and featuring some of the most accomplished surfers, the movie moves along the Chilean coast from north to south. The movie is also beautifully scored and will have you in complete raptures before the movie is even over. The story is told almost entirely without dialogue or voice-over so it might not be for those of you who are easily bored or just not that into traveling and surfing. If you are into both, however, then just sit down and enjoy the beautiful imagery.
3. 180° South (USA-Chile)
180° South – Conquerors of the Useless – is about two sets of travelers. The first is Jeff Johnson and his friends, a surfer and a passionate rock climber, who set of from California sailing down to Patagonia in order to climb the Corcovado Volcano. The second are Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, the founders of Patagonia, who had done a very similar journey in 1968. Jeff Johnson is ultimately retracing the steps of Chouinard and Tompkins but he encounters his very own set of obstacles along the way. The movie is beautifully shot and doesn’t gloss over any of the problems Johnson encounters. The surf scenes are as fascinating, as the rock climbing and landscape shots.
4. The Fisherman’s Son (Chile)
The Fisherman’s Son tells the story of the rise of Roman Navarro to surfing fame – from an unknown surfer in Pichilemu to the winner of a surf competition in Hawaii. The movie has another message as well, though, and that is that Punta de Lobos, the most famous surf-break in Chile is in danger from land developers. Unfortunately, that also gives the movie a commercial twist because it was essentially filmed to ask for donations. The goal was to raise enough money to buy the land around Punta de Lobos to save it for future generations of surfers and the people living there. It’s a good cause, so view that as you may. I liked the movie, a friend of mine didn’t. So I’m curious to know what you think of it. You can find the whole movie (which is only 30 minutes) here.
5. Gauchos del Mar and Tierra de Patagones (Chile and Argentina)
Gauchos del Mar and Tierra de Patagones are two separate movies that follow the journeys of two brothers. In Gauchos del Mar, Joaquin and Julian Azulay travel from California back to their home in Argentina along the Pacific coast. While in Tierra de Patagones, the Argentinian brothers set of from Buenos Aires to explore the surf in Patagonia. Both movies are captivating in their own right and show the character of the different oceans.
6. Uncharted waters (Australia)
If you think about Australia, you’ll probably think about surfing. And Uncharted Waters follows the life of one of Australia’s great surfing icons: Wayne Lynch. It’s pretty much a straight up surf movie about one man’s love for waves and surfing and about the lifestyle that comes with it. I loved just escaping the “real” world for a little while, while watching this movie and that’s why I included it. The movie also includes great scenery shots of Australia.
7. Last Paradise (New Zealand)
New Zealand is well known for being the home of some of the most insane sporting endeavors, so it doesn’t surprise that someone has made a movie about it. Last Paradise is an adventure movie and tells the story of the people who, in the 1960s, went out and made New Zealand the place to be. The movie not only talks about surfing but it also talks about Bungee Jumping (even though that was developed on the Pacific Islands and was only professionalized in New Zealand) and the other adventure sports that are now a staple for (almost) anyone going to Queenstown today.
8. Splinters (Indonesia)
Splinters is about the evolution of indigenous surfing in Indonesia – from belly surfing to professional championships. The movie gives you a great insight into how the introduction of the surfboard has changed this group of people. Ultimately, though, the film is about more than just surfing because it also looks at how the culture of these indigenous people influences their surfing and the way they approach surfing competitions. Have a look at the trailer below and you’ll know what I mean.
9. Spirit of Akasha (set around the globe)
Spirit of Akasha is really an ode to surfing. Incredible surf shots, incredible stunts, incredible scenery and all that to an amazing score that will make you forget the world around you. It’s definitely a movie for a big screen though, so that you can really take in every hair-raising and heart-stopping move.
Celebrating Morning of the Earth, the movie follows well known surfers like Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore to different surf locations around the world. The scenes are set to the music of the likes of Ben Howard, Angus Stone, Wilco and Group Love while being filmed by some of the greatest cameramen. All this makes Spirit of Akasha one of the most expensive surf movies in years. But I have to say, it really paid off.
The only downside to this movie is that it is very long. Two hours without dialogue or voice-over is a long time and, if you watch it after already having seen 4 other surf movies that day, it begs the question how many more incredible surf scene you can take in.
10. Morning of the Earth
This is the classic. The classic I haven’t actually seen I might add. But it’s hailed to be the mother of all surf movies and so it’s bound to be amazing. If you can confirm that, please let me know. I will try to get my hand on the movie asap.
So what about you? Have you seen any of these movies or are you going to? Let me know in the comments, alongside any additional movie recommendations.