on 9 December 2012
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Matt Crocker and James Dean (directors) for making The Endless Winter. I've been watching each teaser as they've been released over the last few months and when the full length film was broadcast in three episodes on C4, I was thrilled to find that the finished product lives up to the hype. No wonder it won Best British Film at the London Surf Film Festival. This film is always going to be a favourite for me and I'm sure it's also going to have a longstanding cult following as well. This is a fantastic film and not just because the filming of the surfing, beaches and coastlines is so beautiful. The Endless Winter also takes the eccentricities of the British surf scene seriously and treats the subject with all the curiosity this quirky subculture deserves.
The basic premise of the documentary is a road trip around Britain led by presenters Mitch Corbett and Mark Harris, who interview the local characters at a number of famous surf spots. In Newquay, we get to hear about the first ever attempt at big wave surfing in the UK, which took place at the Cribbar in the late 60s. In Wales, Linda Sharp shares her memories of competing in the early (and very male) British surf scene. In the Northeast, we learn about what it was like to surf Arctic swell when wetsuit innovations apparently consisted of a wool jumper under a diving suit. The section on Tynemouth is one of the most memorable with Gabe Davies getting choked up while remembering his mentor Nigel Veitch, who died at the age of 26.
Interspersed throughout this interview material are semi-humorous history spots. One of these narrates Cook's first sighting of stand-up surfing in Tahiti to a background of animation similar to a Victorian stage setting complete with overly patriotic music. And of course, this would not be a British documentary without a BBC accented voice over providing the authoritive narrative coherence for the whole. The three modes of filming work really well together. The humorous bits take the edge off the nationalist flavour of identifying a properly British surf culture and the traditional documentary qualities provide the objective approach needed to encourage the public to take the history of surfing seriously.
Mitch and Mark are fantastic presenters as well. If I could identify any fault in this film, it would be that more use could have been made of them. In the section about surfing the Severn bore, there is a wonderfully humorous accident where Mark scrambles up the river bank into a garden to unexpectedly come face to face with the home owner. His reaction is classically understated and British, `I'm sorry, is this your garden?' If these guys can make surfing a tidal bore in smelly brown water look like fun, they must get up to other things during this journey that are worth including in a film. Toward the end, much is made of surf exploration in the section called `the next chapter' and surf exploration is also a prominent feature in Mitch and Mark's profiles on the website. Will we have more Endless Winter with a focus on surf exploration in future? Can I suggest that we do?
For me, this film is always going to be a favourite because it makes such a virtue of the eccentricity of the British surf scene. When I first came to Britain, I was really hard pressed to find a way of enjoying the beach. Having grown up in New Jersey, regular visits to the beach aren't a privilege to me, they are a necessity. Imagine my surprise when most people I met on this island just didn't seem interested in going to the beach at all. Then I went surfing in Newquay on a whim and caught the bug. What a relief to find others who are just as beach-obsessed as me. And all of the surfers I have met have been equally nice and enthusiastic to the people Mitch and Mark interview. Watching The Endless Summer makes me feel proud of the fact that I've had the opportunity to interact with this friendly, quirky and welcoming cold water surf scene. I also wonder if my weirdness makes me fit in well. After all, what could be more strange than a thirty-something American woman from a warm coastal state trying to learn how to surf in Scarborough, one of Britain's coldest breaks?
on 20 November 2012
I'm not a surfer and I've never really watched a surf movie but that really wasn't a problem when watching this film. It isn't so much about the act of surfing but more about the impact that a new `beach culture' had on the world and in this case Britain back in the early days of the sport. Whether you can surf or not you'll just get sucked into the idea of what a life changing moment it must have been when cool, trendy surfer style arrived on Britain's chilly beaches back in the 60s and 70s - a brilliant juxtaposition to Hawaii and California, and for that very reason really funny and charming. These guys so wanted to be cool but instead they were just cold!
In the second half of the film however, the journey evolves into something very different. Less laughs and more an overwhelming sense of the dedication and passion that these surfers have. It takes a certain kind of person to revolve their life around unpredictable, freezing waves but the excitement they show when getting the perfect ride is really inspiring, makes me wish I could surf! Quite simply a great film.
on 20 November 2012
This is one of those little gems that pops up on Channel 4 - you catch part of it by chance and immediately want to know when the next instalment is! Like some of the other reviewers, I'm not a surfer (although I did give it a go in my teens) but just found it interesting to hear from some of the UKs 'original' surfers, see some of the incredible (and freezing!) surf spots around the UK and learn how the scene began and developed 50 years ago. The old footage is fab and contrasts brilliantly with the surfers following skilfully (always great to witness) in their footsteps, with some real characters and great stories featured along the way.
It's beautifully produced too - some gorgeous shots that make you instantly want to hire a camper van, hit the road and head to the surf (even if you won't know what to do when you get there...) plus some cool graphics, like the map they use to show you where they are etc. And they travel round in a white Ford S-Max (sponsors of the show) which has lent a bit of credibility to my S-Max!!
All in all a very watchable, interesting film with broad appeal - as I didn't manage to catch the whole thing on Channel 4 (and it's no longer on 4oD), I'm glad they've released it on DVD :) I expect it will find it's way into a few stockings this Christmas...
on 7 October 2014
I love this dvd!! Me and my boyfriend have watched this hundreds of times, it is awesome!! I will be attempting to ride the severn bore after watching this, it would be rude not too!!! Great to see some of the spots I surf and also great to see some new places which I intend to surf in the future!! This dvd is a must for anyone who enjoys surfing!!
on 14 September 2013
Packed with humour, some beautiful British surfing spots and cinematography to match topped with a whole heap of great surfing, and thanks to the eclectic Brtish surf scene not just your usual surfing either - think night surfing along the Severn Bore. A great watch, highly recommended !
on 26 March 2013
Def one of my fav of my collection, watched alot of surf films and this one is in my top ten partly coz it's British , makes u proud to b British and see so many others that are consistent with surfing , if u keep reading reviews about this...stop...-and just buy it!!!
on 24 August 2014
It's rare for me to feel the urge to tell the world how good something is, and to jump on a review window, because few things in ife are that outstanding, but this film is gem. Stand out moments of exception for me are: getting to Thurso East, Scotland, one of the best waves in Europe and seeing guys surf the triple overheads, seeing people will risk hyperthemia (north east coast) to feel the swell, and surfing the longest wave at night in the dark. Cheery on the cake: the iconoclastic voice of our home grown Ben Howard.One regret: the quest omitted Ireland. That warrants part 2.
on 5 March 2013
This was a present for my husband. I am not normally the one to watch history of sport, or any sport documentaries, but this was very entertaining to watch. I was curious why would someone want to surf freezing waters, but after seeing this documentary I am not only intrigued by surfing itself but also by british surfing community and their love for very british summer
on 8 January 2014
I bought this as a Christmas present for my dad but I have to say after watching it myself it is a great watch.I don't think you need to be an avid surf fan to watch this, as a family we also surf apart from my Mum and she enjoyed it just as much. The history is told in a really entertaining and personable way and it's nice to see and recognise some of the little gems Britain has.