Preview by: Jack Foley
BILLED as a sort of follow-up to the successful Dogtown
and Z-Boys documentary, about skate-boarders, etc, Riding
Giants follows the same sort of format in terms of big wave riding.
And, according to distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, there
is no way to tell such a story without relating the story of surfing
itself - a sport that has become one of the world's most potent
symbols of youth, romance, adventure and freedom.
The sport’s history actually provides a sharp contrast
to surfing's vital, contemporary appeal, dating back way further
than the Beach Boys and ‘Surfin' U.S.A’.
In fact, surfing is an ancient sport, tracing its origins back
over 1,500 years, to ancient Polynesia.
This is where Riding Giants begins, taking viewers from surfing's
early Polynesian roots to its rebirth in the early 20th Century,
to the development of a fledgling surf culture along the coast
of Southern California in the 1940s.
This new ideal, with its romantic form of dynamic bohemianism,
took root on the US Mainland, where the modern surfing lifestyle
A hybrid archetype that blended one part Polynesian waterman,
one part American frontiersman and one part Peter Pan, by the
late 1940s surfers soon found themselves at the cultural vanguard,
kinetic Beat poets long before Kerouac, hippies long before Woodstock,
adventure athletes long before the X-Games.
It was during this period that a
group of extraordinary adventurers emerged: surfers who, not satisfied
with the mere recreational and social aspects of the sport, began
searching for bigger and bigger waves, pushing the boundaries
of performance like so many watery test pilots as they explored
this new ‘unridden realm’.
Riding Giants is the story of these big wave riders, of where
and how their quest began, of the classic characters who throughout
the eras chased their dreams out into the blue water, and of the
surfers who still do today, riding 50, 60 and even 70 foot waves
in a manner once considered the realm of fantasy.
Chief among them is Greg Noll, the pioneer, whose relentless
push into Hawaii's ‘unridden realm’, in the late 1950s
and '60s, earned him the nickname ‘The Bull’.
Then there's Jeff Clark, Northern California's lone frontiersman
who, after discovering the massive waves of Maverick's, near San
Francisco, rode there alone for over a decade.
And finally Hawaii's Laird Hamilton, the prototypical ‘extreme’
surfer, a rare breed of athlete/innovator considered the best
big wave rider who ever waxed a board.
In turns funny and spirited, often poignant and dramatic, their
stories are the heart of Riding Giants.
Yet in the telling comes a picture of not only these extraordinary
characters, but authentic insight into the birth, development
and ultimately the global appeal of the romantic, culturally significant
surfing lifestyle itself.
The film opens in America on July 9 and should follow in the
board-steps of Step Into
Liquid, as a must-see for any fans of surfing culture.