Surfing is not just a sport they say; it is also a way of life. Not only does the sport take away one’s fear of the open waters and the things lurking below the blue, it also teaches a few life lessons by way of rising and ebbing of the waves. Although surfing has only recently become a trend in coastal South India, it had begun way back in the waters of America, specifically the Hawaiian Islands, where the waves made for a great sporting adventure. Hollywood filmmakers have never left anything to chance and have picked up various themes to combine with surfing in their films and the result has always turned out to be good. Whether they are philosophical lessons that have come in the form of surf movies or real-life stories of people, who did the unimaginable, surf movies have always been a part of Hollywood. Here’s a look at the list of top surfing movies ever. If you are lucky, you might be able to find some of these best surfing movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
8. Blue Crush (2002)
With several real-life surfers making an appearance in this sports film, it became one of the most well-known movies that had surfing as its focal point. The film narrates the story of three surfer friends, who, due to their work commitments and near-poverty state, keep their love for waves on hold to raise Anne’s young sister. While she once had a near-drowning experience, Anne is scared to return to surfing, but when an NFL player visits town, he encourages her to return to her first love, which might bring the three ace surfers some extra cash and more sponsors. The movie did not hit the right notes when it released on the big screen, but the picturesque locales and the filming of the surfing scenes did make up for all the loss in the end.
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7. Surf’s Up (2007)
Sony’s animated feature film, which earned as many as ten Annie Award nominations and one Academy nomination, was a docucomedy that poked fun at the various surfing documentaries that had graced the silver screen before it. Starring Shia LeBeouf, Zooey Deschanel and Jeff Bridges in the lead voice cast, the movie followed the story of a penguin from Antarctica, who idolizes a surfer penguin since childhood and to prove his worth, enters a surfing contest far away from home. On his journey, he learns quite a few life lessons and after a brush with some dose of reality, comes up trumps. The animated mockumentary was a lively film, which took a funny jibe at its predecessors and entertained people across all generations. Not only did ‘Surf’s Up’ portray the sport very aptly but it also worked wonders at the world box office for a long time.
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6. Morning Of The Earth (1972)
The first in the lot to start a new “wave” of surf movies, Alby Falzon and David Elfick-directed ‘Morning Of The Earth’ was also the first movie responsible for making Bali a hit tourist destination by starting surfing culture in the islands, which until then, were untapped by the outside world. The film set in the 60s, tracked the story of a group of tough, barefoot and homeless surfers, who believe that riding the biggest wave is not everything, but going back to nature, without disturbing its natural glory also counts. The film is credited as being one of the finest in the genre, and it really makes one long to hit the waves, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
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5. Lords Of Dogtown (2005)
The Catherine Hardwicke-directed film was a biographical tale of three surfer friends from Dogtown in California, who stick around as a team performing for the locals, eventually becoming a force to reckon with in the sport, until the threesome starts to gain wide recognition and decide to explore bluer (read greener) pastures individually. The movie was based on the life of Z-Boys from the 1970s, who were basically wave surfers, but became pioneers of skateboarding, as they combined the basics of surfing with skateboarding when the waves in the area were flat. The film, which gained a cult status a couple of years after its release, is one of the finest examples of incorporating two sports in one, and it did justice in portraying both the sports together, without losing focus on the story, while also paying attention to the mannerisms of the real-life skateboard stars. The film ultimately became hugely popular the world over.
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4. Soul Surfer (2011)
The biographical sports film was based on the life of professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack, but returned to the waves with a vengeance and more energized than ever despite left with only one arm. The film followed her story, where being a resident of Hawaii and born in a family of surfers, it was but natural for her to take to the sport since childhood, finally making her one of the best to qualify at the professional level. During one such excursion, her arm is bitten off by a tiger shark, but that doesn’t take away her love for the big waves and she makes her way back to the waters. Not only does she survive to tell the tale but she also encourages Indonesian children from tsunami-hit areas to brace the waves and start professional surfing. The film was received with positive reviews at the box office.
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3. Chasing Mavericks (2012)
Based on the real life of Californian soul surfer Jay Moriarity, who died young at 22 while free-diving in the Indian Ocean, ‘Chasing Mavericks’ is one of the best films that incorporated surfing in the narrative and portrayed the deceased’s uplifting story with due respect. It starts with a young Moriarity wanting to learn the sport from his trained neighbor, who is initially reluctant, but then impressed by the youngster’s passion to ride the waves, teaches him the basics. As events unfold further, the pro realizes that Moriarity is now ready to take on the biggest wave challenge and takes him to Monterey Bay, where after a few initially hiccups, the boy makes everyone proud. Directors Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted skillfully brought to life the ace surfer’s inspiring tale, which starred Gerard Butler, Johnny Weston and Elisabeth Shue in lead roles. Although the typical, coming-of-age film was slow-paced and did not have anything new to offer apart from the fresh surfing angle, it didn’t make much noise at the box office.
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2. Point Break (1991)
The Kathryn Bigelow directorial, starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves in the lead was a cult action crime movie, which had surfing as its major backdrop. Touted as one of the most memorable surfing movies, ‘Point Break’ narrated the story of a young FBI recruit, who is forced to infiltrate the surfing community to pin down the culprits of a carefully planned series of bank heists that are pulled off only in the dead of the night. While the agent, who has now earned the trust of one particular group of surfers, is smitten by Bodhi (the leader of the group) and his philosophies of life, he finds similarities in the way his groupies function and the bank robbers. The heartwarming film immediately struck a chord with the viewers for its philosophical undertones and Swayze’s portrayal of a grey shade was widely appreciated.
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1. Big Wednesday (1978)
Director John Milius’ slice-of-life film, which released way back in 1978, had the Vietnam War as its main premise and he also incorporated surfing in it, based on some of his own personal experiences of the sport. The coming-of-age film depicted the story of three young surfer friends, who care little about the other things in life and focus mostly on their relationship, the waves, parties and girls, until war breaks out and the world around them starts to change. When they return from the war a decade later, matured and having learnt from experiences, nothing in their hometown is as they had left it before. The emotional story of friendship set in California, resonated with the viewers and it turned out to be a profitable film eventually.
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