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Film / The Endless Summer

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The Endless Summer is a 1964 documentary film (nationally released in 1966) about surfing produced, written, directed, and narrated by Bruce Brown.

This film is responsible for bringing the surf movie genre to the mainstream and popularizing the sport around the world. The bulk of the movie follows two California surfer dudes, Mike Hynson and Robert August. After it starts to get cold in California in the fall, Hynson and August go on a quest around the globe, traveling to the Southern Hemisphere in search of an "endless summer". The film showcases places where surfing is popular as well as cultures who have never seen a surf board. Occasionally the journey of Hynson and August is interrupted by interludes showing surfing in California or the north shore of Oahu.

Brown made a sequel, The Endless Summer II, in 1994. His son Dana continued the genre with The Endless Summer Revisited (2000) and Step Into Liquid (2003).

Not to be confused with the 1974 Greatest Hits Album Endless Summer by The Beach Boys, or with the visual novel Endless Summer (or with Everlasting Summer, for that matter), or with tropes such as Endless Winter or It's Always Spring.

This film provides examples of:

  • Cult Soundtrack: Provided by the instrumental surf-rock group The Sandals. The soundtrack actually began life as an unrelated album released under the title Scrambler! in 1964; it was repackaged as the soundtrack album when the film was nationally released in 1966.
  • Darkest Africa: Implied multiple times in narration during the scenes in Africa. As the film was released in 1964, Brown's views on Africans are often unenlightened, to say the least, though usually good-intentioned. In one scene the narrator suggests that the American surfers visiting Africa worry about getting "speared by a native." The word "primitive" is used a lot, there's a joke about cannibalism...on the other hand, Bowen in his narration is bowled over by the skill of Ghanaians trying surfing for the first time. He's especially impressed when one man manages to briefly stand upright on the board while riding his very first wave.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The narrator gets pretty snarky at times. "No place more then this 'secret spot': Malibu Beach, California, famous for its Malibu Outriggers, surfing, and girls."
  • Distracted by the Sexy: One scene in Australia has both Mike and Robert falling off their surfboards because they are too busy ogling a very sexy local girl named Pearl who is surfing with them.
  • Documentary: Of early 1960s Malibu surf culture.
  • Failure Montage: Brown defines the term "wipeout" and then provides a whole montage of surfers wiping out and falling off their boards.
  • Implausible Deniability: There was an idea that there was no surfing in Tahiti because of the coral reefs. Despite this Mike and Robert find an area with no coral reef area and surf the heck out of it. Brown's narration recounts one man telling Mike "Hey, there are no waves in Tahiti" right after watching Mike surf a wave.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Brown takes the camera with him to give a POV of what it's like to surf. He manages to record himself wiping out.
  • Narrator: Bruce Brown provides cheerful, upbeat narration of the surfing scene.
  • Running Gag: "You guys really missed it. You should've been here yesterday!"
  • Sarcasm Mode: Brown describes the "secret spot" of—Malibu Beach, CA, as the camera shot shows the water full of people.
  • Shout-Out: The narration calls their South African tour guide Terrence "Terrence of Africa". The film then cuts to show the three of them walking across sand dunes reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia.
  • Surfer Dude: The main characters just want to surf.
  • Thanking the Viewer: The film ends with Brown saying "This is Bruce Brown. Thank you for watching. I hope you enjoyed my film."
  • Title Drop: Bowen talks about the difference between summer and winter surf conditions in California and then says "but the ultimate thing for most of us would be to have an endless summer." Then later two surfers actually try to find the "endless summer" by flying to various Southern Hemisphere destinations after summer ends in California.
  • Travelogue Show: Concentrating on the beach scene, of course, but they do visit quite a few places. Stops along the way include Malibu, Hawaii, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa (they take a gondola to Table Mountain), Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti.