10 Surf Films You Need To Watch Before You Die

What do you mean you've never heard of Five Summer Stories?

6. Morning of the Earth

Directed by Albe Falzon and released in 1972 against the backdrop of Vietnam War conscription and the implosion of the so-called Summer of Love, Morning of the Earth provided a new wave of inspiration for would-be drop outs, creatives, surfers, and anyone else looking to skirt the mainstream path.

“A new wave of inspiration for drop-outs, creatives, surfers and anyone looking to skirt the mainstream path”¬†Filmed along Australia’s New South Wales north coast, southern Queensland, Indonesia and Hawaii, it not only showed the world’s best surfers, such as 1966 world champion Nat Young and the underground hero of the time, Michael Peterson, performing their hitherto unseen dance atop the waves – but offered a snapshot of a way of life that would become one of this nation’s most defining.

All of it set to remarkable soundscape that remains one of Australia’s most cherished.


7. Spirit of Akasha

Billed as the sequel to Morning of the Earth, and made to be released on the film’s 40th anniversary, Spirit of Akasha has proved a worldwide surf movie hit.

The idea, according to the film’s director Andrew Kidman, was not to try and create something that stood up to the original Morning of the Earth, rather put it out there to anyone who was influenced by the film and see what the result was.

“That’s sort of what made the project really valid to me. It was just all these people giving back to what the original thing was,” says Kidman.

One of the first to answer the call was three time world champion Mick Fanning. “I was honoured,” he recalls. “The whole spirit of the original is inspiring and the soundtrack is still one of my favourites.”


8. Second Thoughts

Long before the GoPro epidemic, Travis Potter, Timmy Turner, and Brett Schwartz travelled deep into the depths of remote Indonesia and used handheld cameras encased in chunky fibreglass waterhousing to film inside the barrel.

“The footage caused a mini-revolution in surf filming”

They would paddle into the wave, clenching the leash between their teeth before negotiating the take off and filming popping coral heads through long psychedelic sequences of tube.

The footage caused a mini-revolution in surf filming. When combined with some amazing storytelling and a killer adventure tale, it became the feature film, Second Thoughts, considered the first exploration of surfing’s “feral” subculture.

Watch the full movie above.


9. Sea of Darkness

Sea of Darkness, the greatest surf film you’ve never seen, tells the story of G-Land pioneer, Mike Boyum and his merry band of drug smugglers who operated throughout Indonesia and the Pacific in the late 1970s.

“This is the greatest surf film you’ve never seen…”

It’s no secret that surfing and drug culture intersected pretty heavily over the years. A lesser known fact is that many high profile surfers in the late seventies were actually big time drug smugglers, moving commercial quantities of drugs across borders.

Boyum was the mastermind behind much of the drug smuggling. He was also one of the first to surf the now world famous G-Land aka Grajagan before starting a surf camp there.

He was forced to flee Indonesia, however, after he became the target of numerous drug investigations. He later did time along with a number of other figures in this controversial film.

Mysteriously, the film was never released internationally. The reasons for which have never been made public.


10. Strange Rumblings In Shangri La

This modern epic from the creative genius, Joe G, is a kitsch, fun, hi-fi extravaganza that could be described as equal parts Endless Summer, a Wes Anderson film, and a modern athletic masterpiece.

The film takes the world’s best surfers – Creed Mctaggart, Dion Aigus, Nate Tyler and Brendon Gibbens – from Iceland to Mozambique, Brazil, and Sumatra, all of it hilariously narrated and layered with heavily stylised sets and settings.

It’s as quirky a take on pro surfing as has ever been made, and a surefire hit. It’s premiering around the world as we speak.

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