Riding Giants (2004)
This definitive documentary makes the surfers of the 1966 classic Endless Summer look like risk-averse ninnies paddling to piddling four-foot mini-swells. Director Stacy Peralta, who investigated skateboard culture in 2002’s Dogtown and Z-Boys, brings the same detailed passion to this documentary, a look at the history of big-wave surfing. Peralta, himself a boarder and surfer, looks at Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo and finally lands with pioneer surfer Greg Noll. He salutes Jeff Clark’s solitary search for giant waves in the ’70s, then focuses on the 21st-century skills and courage of Laird Hamilton, sailing monsters up to 70 feet high off the coast of Tahiti. You don’t just watch Riding Giants; you feel it in your gut.
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