If you are a surfing fan, then Big Wednesday, and Endless Summer, are some of the movies you might like. But, Riding Giants is one of those movies that you will simply fall in love with. It is a documentary style film that attempts to shed light on the art of surfing like no other movie has. The art of riding big waves makes for the central idea of the movie. Directed by Stacy Peralta, the film takes you through the origins of surfing with legendary surfers like Mickey Munoz, Jeff Clark, Greg Noll, and so on, appearing throughout the movie. The aim of the movie is to equip the audience with all there is to know about big wave riding. Riding Giants not only points out the large waves that the surfers ride on, but also showcases their larger than life images.
The movie starts its journey with an animated movie that takes the audience through hundreds of years of the evolution of surfing until 1950. This is when the sport became popular, and the people who were good at it, started to earn a name for themselves. The Hawaiian coast is at the center of all the action, where slowly and steadily big wave riding was becoming popular. Many tourists were trying to ride bigger waves. Then, there is the discovery of the Mavericks in the northern part of the state of California.
Three important figures in the history of surfing are seen in the movie narrating, telling stories, and so on. Of course, the daredevil and one of the first celebrities of the sport, Greg Noll does appear in the flick. The movie also pays tribute to Laird Hamilton, who has to be credited for progressing the sport of surfing and to make it as we know the sport today. Originally from Hawaii, Hamilton introduced the concept of jet skis and team games to push surfing into its final form. He is one of the most charismatic of all the speakers. His journey through the world of surfing is inspiring and his contribution immense. Then, the film also covers the discovery of a dangerous, yet hugely popular surfing site, the Mavericks. Jeff Clark, the professional surfer, is credited with the discovery of the site and known to have surfed there alone, even before the news broke out about its existence.
The unique feature about the movie is that it does not try to include everybody attached to the world of surfing and get as many opinions as possible. Instead, the movie has kept a small crew which speaks at length about their experiences at the sea. This allows the audiences to connect with whoever they are watching, and feel the emotions they are going through, instead of just going through a string of interviews typical of news channels.
As the interviews come up, you will catch on the infectious enthusiasm that their voices have, when they talk about surfing. It is not just a sport or a leisure activity for them, but a religion, which they do not take lightly. The narration from Stacey Peralta is minimal and is included in places wherever absolutely necessary. His voice also keeps the momentum of the movie going as it has the same spirit as those of the professional surfers.
Moreover, the movie is interspersed by the technical aspects of the sport of surfing. As it follows the sport to its current waves, Ridding Giants also makes a stop to understand the major milestones that brought about the innovation in the sport and the invention of the equipment that are in use today.
The director, Stacey Peralta is not new to this genre of films. He has been behind the movie, Dogtown and Z-boys, a movie that was dedicated to the history of skateboarding. Interestingly, Peralta himself was an integral part of the history, being an ardent skateboarder himself. So, when the producers had to put their money on this project, it was kind of obvious that they chose Peralta to see it through the finish line.
The spirit of the movie is just complimented by the sheer talent that is the director, Stacey Peralta. You have to watch the shots to know what it is like out in the sea and riding a giant wave. The high definition shots of the waves are awe-inducing and will leave you wanting for more. Waves are the heroes of the ‘Riding Waves’ and they are put forward in their majestic glory by the impressive shots of the director.
The stories told by these surfing stars are amazing. Peralta has done justice to his role in the movie by exhibiting his heartfelt respect for them. He has tried to not only capture the waves, but also the story behind the sport too. The director has tried to answer and in many ways succeeded in making his audience understand why the sport ticks. The movie successfully communicates the dangers involved in the sport, the power of the huge waves, and the sheer fear while making the drop to ride a wave. The movie is also able to put through the level of skill, physical fitness and focus that the sport demands. Stories of the surfers who lost their lives while at sea are also included. It does add the hard-hitting reality that the sport is not all fun, but there can be fatal consequences.
However, despite all the risks, even to their own lives, surfing is a religion for these surfers. Here, they have come forward and told their story of why they do this every day? The audience is able to peek into what goes inside the head of a surfer, when he waits patiently for hours just to get those minutes of exhilaration of riding a wave. What makes them stake their life for it? All these questions and more are successfully answered in the movie.
The music of the movie has also been thoughtfully composed and intelligently weaved into the scenes. It is able to generate the emotion the director wants you to experience. From being awestruck at seeing a huge wave, to becoming emotional at the story of a surfing star, the music holds it all together.
It is amazing how the entire history of the sport has been so remarkably summarized in a two-hour movie. It does pass the emotion on. Those who surf or have an interest in the sport will absolutely love it. Those who don’t will also find themselves connecting to the contagious enthusiasm of the various personalities who talk in the movie. Even the tone of the movie is hard to escape. You can watch the movie for just the waves and to see what passion looks and feels like.