First off, I know what you’re thinking… it’s May 1st. Marketing campaigns reach all of us. But why spend perfectly good just-earned-salary-check money on seeing Wolverine on opening weekend when you can wait ’til Discount Tuesday (less crowded and no pre-teens kicking the back of your chair repeatedly while screaming asinine comments for 2 hours straight) and in the mean time rent the flick below? Just a really good thought.
“What have you done for forty-five years?” It’s a question that is posed to you in Jeremy Gosch’s documentary about the revolution of the stance of surfing in 1975 on Hawaii’s North Shore.
Taking into account that this is a film about surfing, which lends itself to the association with the likes of films such as Endless Summer, Blue Crush, and Point Break (Though I have nothing but obsessed love for Point Break), Bustin Down the Door commands an entirely different side of your mind (i.e., the side that isn’t high on, ahem, ‘life’). Be it the beauty of the storyline, the power of these men’s passions, or the concept of a sporting legend created by a handful of men, this film demands your full attention; so none of that getting up to use the loo or heat up more popcorn once you’ve pressed play.
It’s always awe-inspiring to witness people pushing their own dreams to the limit. And the men at the heart of this film (Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, Shaun Tomson, and Mark Richards) did exactly that, and not just against themselves – which would have been tricky enough – but against society as well. The film illustrates how they set up pro-surfing to be the billion dollar industry that it is today; Kelly Slater best send them a thank you note and perhaps a slice of his endorsement checks.
Personally, I have always been a fan of documentaries. They ensnare you from the start in a completely different manner than any narrative film can. And the best part is you cannot walk away from these films and go, “Well, it was just a movie.” Because it’s not. That revelation allows you to truly connect with these people despite the boundaries of celluloid. Narrated by Ed Norton (You may be asking yourself: what is this hard-core method actor doing narrating a surf film? If you only knew what he’s done for the surf community as a whole–advocated for the age of pro-surfers to drop below 7, personally rescued over 13 surfers from shark attacks and is currently in plans for the inaugural Ed Norton Pipeline Open), the film is complete with an inevitable generous amount of spectacular surf footage juxtaposed with interviews of these surf titans looking back on their heyday with a striking sense of nostalgia and at times, ruefulness. The 1975 shots taken with Super 8 cameras are in mint condition and provide some of the more memorable moments of the film showcasing the camaraderie amongst these men even as they are just lounging about on the beaches and chasing after girls.
With such an interesting cast of characters and a slew of unique events surrounding the professional start of the sport by a few brash boys from Australia and South Africa, this film stands out amongst a sea (pun intended) of films and documentaries.
On a closing note, I received a request to add to my recommendations a little note highlighting other films one would in fact enjoy if by some unlucky chance they have already seen the aforementioned film. Something to the likes of “If you liked this, you may like such and such film.”
So, as it were:
If you liked Bustin Down the Door, you may want to check out: Murderball, Dogtown and Z boys, and for god’s sake please go re-rent Point Break. Oh, and while you are at it American History X.