The Endless Summer is documentary filmmaker Bruce Brown’s movie about the search for the perfect wave, and how the ultimate achievement is to get covered by the wave, as if you’re riding through a tube. In addition, you want an ‘endless summer’, i.e. to have the warm water and waves, but without the crowds. The only way to do that is to take a world trip, following the weather as it goes.
How they stay on their boards, I have no idea, but the narration from the director introduces us to body surfing, those heading for a wipeout, overcharging hotels, great surfers of their day including Australian Nat Young and American Butch Van Artsdalen, and even surfing on sand dunes?!
I often hear about how this is billed as one of the ultimate documentaries. Perhaps for the hardened surfer, but as a casual viewer of documentaries, and whilst I loved both surfing-based films Big Wednesday and Point Break (the original, not the terrible remake), apart from the occasional amusing moment as Mike and Robert interact with other people on their trip, including how they pack for the trip – swimming trunks, board wax and – in case of injury – one Band-aid. Outside of that, it feels fairly pedestrian (even though pedestrians walk, while this pair are surfing).
It does feel a bit racist when Bruce Brown, who has a fairly flat delivery, mocks the language spoken in Africa simply because he doesn’t understand it, although (a) it was filmed in the ’60s, and (b) he states that the only English that the two travelling round the world know is “Hang ten”.
The background audio felt like jaunty sitcom-style music, but I learned soon after that Brown just played surf records and narrated over the top of those, as he didn’t have any audio on the original footage.
I understand the film was shot in 16mm in a theatrical ratio of 1.66:1, but is slightly cropped top and bottom, here, to fill a 16:9 (1.78:1) screen. Yes, you can easily accept that the footage was shot 50 years ago, so won’t be as pristine as a modern movie, but beyond that, the print is nice and clean, showing off the bright, sunny locations with ease.
The audio has a dual mono and a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio option. I chose the latter, but given that it’s a mix of music and narration in both cases, I certainly didn’t get anything other than what was expected from my viewing.
The extras are a number of present-day featurettes, the first few of which could form one big ‘making of’ but which have been separated into individual pieces:
- Bruce Brown introduction (1:00): A brief intro from the main man, himself. You can watch this before the film without any spoilers.
- Directing The Endless Summer (4:36): How Bruce got into surfing, then take pictures with an 8mm camera to show his mum. There’s also chat from his son, Dana Brown, who also makes films.
- Producing The Endless Summer (13:44): with producer Bob Bagley.
- Surfing The Endless Summer (10:23): Mike Hynson gives his thoughts on the film and surfing in general.
- The Endless Summer Revisited (1:11:50): Footage shot for this film, the sequel and Bruce Brown’s early surfing films and home movies from 1952-1961, with a lot of the footage airing for the first time.
Fans won’t be chuffed to learn that this lengthy piece isn’t chaptered. That is a definite omission from Second Sight.
- Artwork from around the world (1:58): Movie posters
- Bruce Brown timeline (4:20): A brief run-through of Mr Brown’s movies, plus achievements along the way.
The main menu features a short piece of the theme set against clips from the film, with the chapters divided up into individual locations where they filmed the footage, so that’s 16 plus the one for end credits. Subtitles are in English.
The Endless Summer Special Edition is out today on Blu-ray, DVD, and a Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Boxset, which also includes 4 Exclusive Production Stills Postcards. Also, check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 92 mins
Distributor: Second Sight
Released: August 28th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Bruce Brown
Producers: Robert Bagley and Bruce Brown
Screenplay: Bruce Brown
Music: John Blakeley, Gaston Georis and Walter Georis (as The Sandals)
Narrator: Bruce Brown
Principal surfer: Mike Hynson
Principal surfer: Robert August
Himself Lord James Blears
South African guide: Terence Bullen
Himself – Bodysurfer at the Wedge with ‘rigor mortis of the stomach.’: Chip Fitzwater
Himself – Bellyboarder at the Wedge throwing board over wave: Chuck Gardner
Himself: Wayne Miyata
Himself: Steven R Davis (uncredited)
Himself: Mickey Dora (uncredited)
Himself: Phil Edwards (uncredited)
Himself: Greg Noll (uncredited)
Himself – Charlie: Dave Thynell (uncredited)
Himself: Butch Van Artsdale (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.