Top 15 Soul Surfing Movies Everyone Should See

This is the first list in a series of recommendations, on topics that inform us as individuals and as a company.  Travel, adventure, nature, ocean, culture, soul, art, music, community.  Today we talk our kind of surf movies.

Words: Ed Templeton

The surf films that I connect with and that have motivated me to give it all up and just go surfing show more than just ‘rad waves’.

A great surf movie needs to inspire us, to say something important, to move us, to make us grateful for our time spent in the ocean and to make us desperate to get back out there.

A marriage between music, cinematography, content, nature & documentary.

Movies depicting kaleidoscopic views of surfing, not just world champs surfing gnarly waves on tiny boards. For me a great surf movie should somehow get across the soul of surfing, that intangible thing that drives so many of us to the sea each day.

This list below forms a significant part of the motivations and foundations of Soul & Surf. 

1. Morning Of The Earth

Director: Albert Falzon. 1972

One of the first surf movies of its kind, an artistic travel and lifestyle documentary with an amazing original score. It is also credited with bringing Bali as a surf destination to the attention of surfers around the world for the first time.

2. Forgotten Island of Santosha

Director: Larry Yates. 1974

An early example of the off the beaten path surf/adventure/discovery-type movie that has motivated so many of us to continue the ’search’.

3. Thicker Than Water

Directors: Jack Johnson, Chris & Emmet Malloy. 2000

Beautifully shot on 16mm film, this movie documents the life and times of a pro surfer. It has an infamous section shot in the Andaman islands, pre-earthquake and tsunami, which inspired us to run a few crazy Pop-Ups to the Andamans.

Surfer on a wave

Alex Knost in Sprout – Photo by Thomas Campbell

4. Sprout

Director: Thomas Campbell. 2004

A beautifully shot film with a great soundtrack and a totally open minded look at the joy of surfing, it shows how many ways we have to access the ocean and feel the glide.

5. Glass Love

Director: Andrew Kidman. 2004

This film explores the generational link and love of surfing that gets passed down through families.  

6. Shelter

Directors: Taylor Steele, Chris Malloy. 2007

A film that explores the foundations of surfing with a soul soundtrack. A film that looks as good as it feels.

7. Seaworthy

Director: Nathan Oldfield. 2008

An exploration of the variety of ways we can approach wave riding, beautifully shot and once again, a great soundtrack.

Surfers walking at sunrise

The Present – Photo by Thomas Campbell

8. The Present

Director: Thomas Campbell. 2009

Another surf film that could be a music video. Shot on film, combining exploration, experimental surf craft and soulful surfers.

9. The Drifter 

Director: Taylor Steele. 2009

A biopic of pro surfer Rob Machado as he drops out of the competition surf business to focus on the soul of surfing.  

10. 180 Degrees South

Director: Chris Malloy. 2010

Recreating a trip that Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard took in 1968 from California to Patagonia, combing surfing, sailing, climbing and adventure.

11. Castles in the Sky

Director: Taylor Steele. 2010

A cross between a music video and travel documentary with surfing at its core. Shot in off the beaten path locations including India, Peru, Vietnam, Africa, Iceland.

Chris Del Moro in The Heart & The Sea – Nathan Oldfield

12. The Heart & The Sea

Director: Nathan Oldfield. 2012

The film celebrates the joy that lies at the very centre of a surfing life: family, friends and a shared intimacy with the sea.

13. Spirit of Akasha

Director: Andrew Kidman. 2014

This 2014 film was made as a follow up to the classic Morning Of The Earth. Aiming to recapture the values and spirit of the original, but for the modern world.

14. North of the Sun

Director: Inge Wegge +Jørn Ranum. 2015

An arctic island adventure, following two surfers as they hole up, alone in a driftwood cabin, for a nine-month Norwegian winter of surfing.

15. Self Discovery For Social Survival 

Mexican Summer & Pilgrim Surf + Supply .  2019

A surreal symbiosis of music, surf, the environment and local culture.

Surfers at Sunset - Self Discovery for Social SurvivalSelf Discovery for Social Survival

What are your favourite surf movies? Let us know by leaving a comment below

 

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