Catch a ride into the green cathedral with legendary surfing cameraman George Greenough. This cult documentary travels with Greenough and his playmates, champion dudes Nat Young and Ritchie West, to the awesome (and then unchartered) "tubes" (that pocket of air created by a wave as it curls over itself) pummelling the islands off the South Californian coast. Majestic, trippy visuals, a psych-out soundtrack from acid meisters Pink Floyd, and the riders' beach bum philosophy should chill you quicker than toking on a doobie in Iceland.
It's a shock to discover that nobody rode the tube (that pocket of air created by a wave as it curls over itself) until Greenough's film. But in fact, it was from his studies of wave dynamics that the flexible fin was created - an essential development in surfboard technology for tackling the monstrous, rolling edifices that are the undoubted stars of this extraordinary film.
Using a specially designed, high-speed 3.5mm camera, Greenough (who went on to film the action sequences for John Milius' quintessential 1978 surfing drama, Big Wednesday) takes us into the thick of the action, filming Young and West from within the watery tunnels themselves. It's a common practice today, but few have managed to capture the magnificence of the ocean, or the exhilaration of riding the waves as this movie does.
Dilys Powell of the Sunday Times was overcome by the "astonishing and beautiful camera work," while John Coleman of the New Statesman waxed lyrical - "the pictures are, putting it mildly, remarkable - molten water and men moving on it with unique grace - tunnels, spirals, worlds of waves - and humanoids on top." As for Alexander Walker: "Perspectives flatten a seascape into a field of ploughed-up furrows. Slow motion reveals the multitudinous beauties of sea water. Sometimes a wide-angled lens distorts the horizon's curvature: the world becomes a green ball you can throw up and catch...To see it all stone cold sober on a wintry morning is exhilarating. To see it 'stoned'... must be out of this world."