Riding Giants

DVD Released (Y/M/D): 2005-01-04

Genre: Documentary

Director: Stacy Peralta

Stars: Laird Hamilton, Jeff Clark, Greg Noll

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: There is no way of telling the story of big wave riding without telling the story of surfing itself, a sport that has become one of the world's most potent symbols of youth, romance, adventure and freedom. But in sharp contrast to surfing's vital, contemporary appeal is its history -- which goes back way further than the Beach Boys and "Surfin' U.S.A." In fact, surfing is an ancient sport, tracing its origins back over 1500 years to ancient Polynesia. This is where Riding Giants begins, taking us from surfing's early Polynesian roots to its rebirth in the early 20th Century to the development of a fledgling surf culture along the coast of Southern California in the 1940s. This new ideal, with its romantic form of dynamic bohemianism, took root on the U.S. Mainland, where the modern surfing lifestyle was born. A hybrid archetype that blended one part Polynesian waterman, one part American frontiersman and one part Peter Pan, by the late 1940s surfers soon found themselves at the cultural vanguard, kinetic Beat poets long before Kerouac, hippies long before Woodstock, adventure athletes long before the X-Games. It was during this period that a group of extraordinary adventurers emerged: surfers who, not satisfied with the mere recreational and social aspects of the sport, began searching for bigger and bigger waves, pushing the boundaries of performance like so many watery test pilots as they explored this new "unridden realm." Riding Giants is the story of these big wave riders, of where and how their quest began, of the classic characters who throughout the eras chased their dreams out into the blue water, and of the surfers who still do today, riding 50, 60 and even 70 foot waves in a manner once considered the realm of fantasy. We meet Greg Noll, the pioneer, whose relentless push into Hawaii's "unridden realm" in the late 1950s and '60s earned him the nickname "The Bull." Then there's Jeff Clark, Northern California's lone frontiersman who, after discovering the massive waves of Maverick's near San Francisco, rode there alone for over a decade. And finally Hawaii's Laird Hamilton, the prototypical "extreme" surfer, a rare breed of athlete/innovator considered the best big wave rider who ever waxed a board. In turns funny and spirited, often poignant and dramatic, their stories are the heart of Riding Giants. Yet in the telling comes a picture of not only these extraordinary characters, but authentic insight into the birth, development and ultimately the global appeal of the romantic, culturally significant surfing lifestyle itself. Riding Giants is driven by the same sense of freedom, the same love of nature, the similar discovery of self that all surfers seek -- that all of us seek, in one form or another. Experience the breathless moments of quiet grace that, for these extraordinary adventurers, are to be achieved within their elementally violent world.   Source: Sony Pictures Classics

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