The greatest surf films are those that stand the test of time to be watched again and again by surfers and non-surfers alike. They not only chronicle events as they happen, but also make history through their massive impact on the world of surfing. The best of them is undoubtedly Keanu’s tour-de-force Point Break, or Kate Bosworth’s epic Blue Crush. However, if we discount these, and other Hollywood “masterpieces”, then which are the best three surfing films?
The below films, in reverse order, represent the surf world’s finest efforts in cinematography and substance. With such a wealth of great films to choose from a favorite is always hard to pick, however, these are the three greatest surf films of all time.
Third on our list is Taylor Steele’s breakthrough hit Momentum, which defined a surfing generation that would later bare its name. The world’s best young surfers, Rob Machado, Shane Dorian, Taylor Knox and a 19-year-old Kelly Slater, reinvigorated the industry with a non-stop, high action, surf spectacular. Set to a punk rock soundtrack, the film has an energy and formula that scores of filmmakers, including Taylor Steele himself, have attempted to reproduce ever since. Since 1992, each of Steele’s film have given us a snapshot of where surfing is, and his latest offering, Stranger than Fiction (no, Will Ferrell has not learned to surf) is as watchable as ever.
It remains to be seen whether number two on our list stands the test of time, we believe it will as it is the most enjoyable film made in recent years. The documentary Riding Giants begins with a brief history lesson, before unleashing phenomenal footage of three generations of surfers riding unbelievable waves, or giants, as the title suggests. Historical footage of Greg Noll in the 50s, Jeff Clark in the 70s and Laird Hamilton in the 1990s, demonstrates just how far big wave riding has come since its origins.
The Endless Summer
As for the best surf video of all time, well, our list must follow suit and agree with every other top five, ten or twenty list that has been compiled over the last thirty years. The Endless Summer is a genre-defining original that has yet to be surpassed–a classic that changed the face of surfing forever. Forty years after two Californian longboarders, Mike Hynson and Robert August, chased summer around the world, this is still the greatest surf film ever made.