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FIVE SUMMER STORIES (a J!-ENT Surfing DVD Review)

October 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A look back at surfing past during a time of the Vietnam War, President Nixon and a change in the world of surfing, surfbreaks, women in surfing, the growing popularity of skateboarding.  For any surfing DVD that is worth having in your collection, this one is a true classic and a must own!

FILM:  Five Summer Stories

YEAR OF FILM: 1972

DISTRIBUTED BY: Surfing Video Network

RATED: NOT RATED

DURATION: 1:29:38

Directed by Greg MacGillivray

Written by Jim Freeman, Greg MacGillivray

Produced by Jim Freeman, Greg MacGillivray

Music by Honk

Cinematography by Bud Browne, Jim Freeman, Greg MacGilllivray

Starring:

Eddie Aikau

Sam Hawk

Gerry Lopez

David Nuuhiwa

Corky Carroll

Shaun Tomson

Heralded as “the finest surf movie ever made,” Five Summer Stories is a cultural icon, a time capsule from a watershed era when the world was at a critical crossroads and its reflection was clear in the emerging sport/art of surfing.

Against a backdrop of the Vietnam War and the Nixon years, Five Summer Stories was the culmination of the joint surf-film careers of Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray.  Code named “The Last Surfing Movie” during production, the movie portrays a young, outlaw sport at a strategic point of its creative evolution-and at an historic crux in time.  Now you, too, can do what the audience of the 1970s did-you can hoot and scream and go crazy-all in the privacy of your own home.

THE LAST SURFING MOVIE – “Five Summer Stories” is Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman’s last surfing film.  It is the culmination of a ten year celebration in celluloid that includes the classics “Free and Easy, Waves of Change and The Sunshine Sea”.  In Five Summer Stories”, Greg and Jim give us five plus exciting, controversial and beautiful stories about surfing.  From these stories comes a perspective on surfing that warns of the future while it warms the present.  SUMMER: NOT A SEASON BUT A STATE OF MIND.

I’ve heard so much about Jim Freeman and Greg MacGillivray’s (the founder of IMAX) film “Five Summer Stories” (and “Sunshine Sea”) many times from fellow surfers and before it was released in DVD, I’ll admit seeing the VHS at various surf shop for years but I always found myself using the money towards surf wax or new board shorts because what people were selling were these expensive limited edition signed sets and so I passed.

Flash forward many years later and it’s been gnawing in the back of my mind that I still haven’t seen the film yet and so, I drove to my local surf shop and picked up “Five Summer Stories” on DVD.

I’ve heard about how this film was one of the first major budget films as it was the first film on stereo, it was the first film that paid a surfer (Gerry Lopez) for appearing in the film and how this film literally packed theaters who just loved the surfing, seeing popular surfers from the 70′s and also from the past just showing off their passion and also music by the Beach Boys and Honk.

Having watched the DVD again for I don’t know how many times since I bought it, I figured that I might as well type up a review on my thoughts of the film.

The film is titled “Five Summer Stories” and features various stories somewhat broken down in five categories.  The first story titled ” A Hawaiian Odyssey” featuring Hawaii in 1972 and various surfers in Hawaii at various locations such as the North Shore, Sunset, Waikiki.  From shots of the various activities in the 1970′s, from people in Hawaii at events, to ladies in bikinis and even a young Laird Hamilton at the age of 10.

Chapter 1 3/8 would feature the surfing scene in the 1950′s and 1960′s with the popularity of surf films, surf shops, knee boarding, Duke and the big surfers at that time.  Micky Dora, Nat Young, Midget Farrelly, Corky Carroll, David Nuuhiwa and more.

Chapter 2 titled “Different Drummers” features major surfers commenting on up and coming surfers of the early 70s.  Also, an interesting segment with Corky Carrol with a mic taped to his body while surfing.

Chapter 2 1/2 is titled “Magic Rolling Board” and this featured the popularity of skateboarding during the 70′s.  This was pretty fun to see the various stunts that people would pull off and the crazy fandom at that time.

Chapter 2 3/4 is titled “Contest Weight”.  This would focus on various surfing competitions in the 70′s.

Chapter 3 titled “Women in Motion” features popular women surfing from 1958 through the early 1970s.  It was great to see women such as Lynne Boyer, Linda Benson, Joyce Hoffman and others who revolutionized surfing.

Chapter 3 1/4 features Shaun Tomson and 3 1/2 is titled “Bright Stars” and features two surfers.

Chapter 4 features a combination of surfing and old school animation.  Chapter 4 3/4 titled “Is Surfing Closed Out” and this one features popular surf breaks and its changes from the 60′s to 1995 (new footage).

Chapter 5 is titled “Heaven’s Gift to Man: Tunnel of Love” which features a combination of surfing and animation.  Focusing on surfers riding the tube.

VIDEO:

Considering the film was released in 1972, many scenes looked pretty well done and the video looks like it held up quite well through the years.  The problem is that I don’t know how much was added in newer footage versus what was shown in the 1970′s.  But all in all, the older footage looks pretty good on DVD.

AUDIO:

A lot of music and narration.  A lot of people who grew up in the 70′s have always talked about the awesome soundtrack and people who have seen the original film have said the film version of the DVD has its music replaced (half of the Beach Boys music replaced).  So, again…not having seen the original 70′s film, I don’t know how much music was changed from the original to this present DVD version.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features but there is a 1:29 minute prologue asking people “What were you doing in 1972?”.  Prologue was misspelled as prologe but very minor quirp.

Personally, I can see why this movie is a classic and I definitely agree it is a time capsule for surfing past.  There are so many cutscenes, surfing and a bit of humor and fun included in this film and for a film created in 1972, I can tell you that the footage looks much better than a lot of surfing DVD’s and VHS I own from the 80s and 90s.

For me, I enjoy watching legends like Gerry Lopez and even seeing Corky Carroll just ripping and just having fun on the waves.  There are so many legendary surfers on this film and of course, many of them were in their teens or twenties at the time, so it was cool to see them surf.

I actually enjoy humorous cut scenes and footage that may not seem as much to others but yeah, sing Bill Hamilton and little Laird surfing at the age of 10 and 11 was pretty cool because that little kid has grown up to become one of the best big wave surfers of all time.

I’ve read some reviews about how the DVD version of the film does not have the original music as the original film and it truly was a bummer to them.  I have not seen the original film with the original Beach Boys soundtrack, so I am not affected.  But I supposed I can understand in someways when I watch a DVD for a television show and the music was changed because they don’t have the music rights for the DVD releases and yeah, if you don’t like the music which replaced the original, yeah, I can see that really dampening the experience for some.

Also, I noticed that the original film clocks in at 94 minutes, while this DVD version clocks in at 89:38.  So, five minutes maybe were cut?  Not sure.  I do know that near the end, we see 1995 footage, so not sure if the film was re-edited to celebrate its 25th Anniversary or what.

But all in all, this film is one of the few surfing DVD’s that I can say is worth owning.  I enjoyed watching the classic 70s footage and the fact that the film tried to introduced so many parts to it, all in all, it was fun.  Was it better than “Endless Summer”, I’m more biased towards “Endless Summer” but overall, “Five Summer Stories” was just fun to watch and having it in my collection definitely has me stoked!

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