Monday, December 12, 2005

Riding Giants

Director Stacy Peralta's first major film was the documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys", a film detailing the history of skateboarding in America and how the big skating boom came about and those pioneers of which he was a member. Peralta followed up
"Dogtown" with "Riding Giants", a film which is semi-related in theme because "Riding Giants" traces the history of Big Wave surfing with a look at the early pioneers as well as where Big Wave is today.

There are really two kinds of serious surfing. There is the short wave surfing which we may see on television and competitions where there is a lot of flash and tricks and perhaps this is even where the glory is (movies like "Blue Crush" cover this end of the surfing world). Then there is Big Wave surfing where the surfer needs to get farther off shore to catch a wave that crests higher and breaks harder and may have another wave just as big right behind it so you better not mess up. Peralta tracks the origins and history of Big Wave surfing where guys (it is usually men) are constantly seeking a better wave, a more perfect challenge. They first just paddle out to deeper water and the narration mentions a time where two men paddled out for two hours to reach the spot where they could catch the wave they wanted. Then Peralta shows how Big Wave has changed with different surfing locations and when Jet Skis were used to start towing the surfer into the wave.

I imagine that most people know very little about surfing or Big Wave surfing. I freely admit that nearly everything that I know about surfing came from "Blue Crush" and maybe one or two broadcasts of a surfing competition on television. There are two ways that "Riding Giants" is a success as a film. The first is that the documentary is informative while being entertaining about the history and the present and possibly the future of Big Wave surfing. It's a world, a lifestyle, and a culture that I had never considered. The second way is that this is a beautiful looking movie. The sight of these big waves rolling in and the men attempting and in many cases succeeding in surfing the waves is incredible. This is fairly short documentary, perhaps an hour and a half, so there is not a large time commitment and I think it is one worth making.

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