There have been many attempts over the last 70 years to tell the story of surfing on the big screen. It all started in the late fifties with the Gidget movies that were all big boards, corny gags and bikini’s. Things got serious in the eighties with films like SUMMER CITY (which featured a very young Mel Gibson), PUBERTY BLUES and the Hollywood blockbuster BIG WEDNESDAY that told the story of Matt, Jack and Leroy and their surfing escapades over three decades.
Things got very silly in the eighties with the cult classic NORTH SHORE and the plain terrible SURF NAZIS MUST DIE which film reviewer Roger Ebert walked out on after the first 30 minutes.
Australia has had a bit of a crack again at telling a good surf story in recent years. CAUGHT INSIDE (2010) is a genuinely scary surf film about a surf boat trip in paradise that goes horribly wrong. THE DRIFT (2010) was okay and had some amazing surf sequences.
BREATH is in the cinemas now and it is the latest attempt by filmmakers to tell a good surf yarn. The film is based on the award winning book by Tim Winton, a lover of the ocean and surfer himself which is a good start. He knows his subject matter.
BREATH is set in the seventies on the south-west coast of Western Australia. A time when surfers were still shunned by the mainstream, leg-ropes weren’t cool, wetsuits were plain black and kombi’s were the main vehicle of choice for the hard core surfing set.
The film evolves around two young boys (Pikelet and Loonie) who are drawn to the ocean by the waves and ‘coolness’ of the surf scene. They soon meet former pro surfer and surfing legend, Sando played by the director Simon Baker and as they say… their lives are changed forever.
BREATH is more then just waves and surfing. The surf scenes are amazing and the scenery stunning but it’s the relationships between the boys, then Sando and then the girl(s) that generate a strong narrative about what its like to be a male growing up.
If you get a chance, check out this film which is currently showing in and around Geelong. It is more then just a surf film… it’s a film about people and growing up. The acting is first class, it’s a fantastic script and it will make you want to book your next holiday to Western Australia.
It seems that after 70 years someone has finally created a decent surf film for the big screen.
Written by John Foss