It's about life - not "lifestyle"
THE FAR SHORE
A FILM BY GREGORY SCHELL
|THE FAR SHORE is a surf documentary which rivals THE ENDLESS SUMMER for capturing the essence of surf travel, camaraderie, adventure, and action. Unlike ENDLESS SUMMER, this has been created in retrospect, giving it a truly unique perspective. The fact it has been done so well makes it an absolute gem of a picture, one which surfers of any age, gender, or equipment preference should enjoy.
Surfers over the age of 30 might remember reading about the exploits of Californians Craig Peterson, Kevin Naughton, and cohorts in several articles printed in SURFER magazine. True to the spirit of the 70's, in these articles surf spot names were not mentioned and country names divulged only reluctantly. While this film investigates the realities of world surf travel when few went to these lengths, in many ways it is also about the California of that period, where a combination of population increases and localism was beginning to rear its head in the land of Good Vibrations. This same cloud eventually appeared in other world locales, perhaps sending Peterson and Naughton to even more extremely remote climes. Media cause and effect perceptions are examined a bit here too - good for the youth of today to see how things were before everything was prepackaged for credit card consumption. This is also a great look at surfing before money rose to be such a dominant sub sultural preoccupation - maybe some of the surfers who today go on all expense paid tropical boat trips replete with air conditioning, hot and cold running water, refrigeration, Playstations, pornographic videos, faxed weather and surf forecasts, semi-gourmet chefs, and team managers to handle their every whim might think twice before snickering at some of their elders once they've seen an African beach camp, 70's style.
These two guys took less with them for a year in Central America or Africa than the average surfers of today take to the beach for one day. This was life in another age, before electronic entertainment overkill became the norm, when books and people and social skills were not things to be mocked, judged, and dismissed by those sitting on piles of money or credit. THE FAR SHORE reflects this well.
Those who do remember the articles might wonder how this subject translates into "the cinema", and to this I must say the cache of Super-8 movies which the duo took are what make THE FAR SHORE the movie it is. This was filmmaking before The Logo became star. If you want to see some first class down the line single fin speed surfing, this delivers. Anybody currently into retro board designs ought to get off on seeing the real thing - it wasn't about the beavertail wetsuits. We are also provided with a very quick glimpse of why kneeboarding was more than tolerated in those days (Peterson - carrying on the kneeboard/photographer tradition of the Greenoughs, Crawfords, and Brewers). Mixed with select stills and current video interviews, it's a wonderful blend.
To be sure, this isn't anything like a modern "surf video". It isn't designed to amp you up for yet another crowded go-out. I haven't seen LITMUS, SHELTER, or THICKER THAN WATER, all recent videos which I have heard good things about in a similar vein, so I can't draw comparasions to them. What THE FAR SHORE has is excellent, unseen footage of waves, places, people, and surfing action (20-30 years old for the most part), and a soundtrack carefully put together to be evocative of the locales and eras shown. That doesn't mean any of it is out of date, nor does it mean the music is comprised of wretched oldies. Mixed in with the archival footage are the reminiscences of Peterson and Naughton, plus some of the people whom they had met up with along the way, and some current shots which range from simply providing then-and-now contrast to a backyard barbeque walk-through which to me is absolutely haunting. It is anything but elegaic. Rather than a nostalgic experience, THE FAR SHORE is an exercise in inspiration, applicable to life as well as to travel and surfing.
Plans are to have the video available for purchase online and at surf shops by the middle of June 2002 (http://www.thefarshore.com), a limited series of California screenings featuring the film and select bands in October 2002, with a movie soundtrack being released after the tour. Given the recent success of DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS, THE FAR SHORE could have a successful film festival life as well. In his choice of subject matter and execution, Gregory Schell has made a valuable contribution to our culture. It speaks of the surfing life, both to us and for us, in the same authentic voice as THE ENDLESS SUMMER did almost 40 years ago.
|Text copyright (C) 2002. All rights reserved.