Riding Giants is both a history of big-wave surfing (and, to a degree, of surfinggenerally) and a profile of the big names in the sport over the generations, specifically Greg Noll,Jeff Clark and Laird Hamilton (who, as executive producer, also gets the lion’s share of thecoverage). Spectacular footage is mixed with vintage home movies, and the result is quitecompelling. The film does devolve into hero-worship, however, and when a drowned surfer isreferred to as a fa…len warrior, it gets a bit much. (I will also confess that, as I write this, the newsis filled with the horrors of tsunamis, so it’s hard not to cast a rather skeptical gaze on peoplewho deliberately seek out 70-foot waves.) As well, the film is almost completely devoid ofwomen surfers. Still, this is a pretty interesting, though largely uncritical, examination of a very,very male subcultre.
Though this is a documentary, there are still plenty of nice, spectacular elements to thesoundtrack. The opening, which cuts from barely audible gulls to the sudden roar of a wave, isappropriately striking, and the use of the music is very effective as well. The voices are all clearand undistorted.
The quality of the picture depends, obviously, on the source material, so there’s no point incomplaining that old super-8 home movies look at bit grainy. There is some grain visible in thenew footage too, however. the colours, though, are very bright and sunny, and the image issharp.
Commentary 1 is by director Stacy Peralta and editor Paul Crowder, and they discuss notonly the hows and whys of the film, but also the reactions to the movie. The second commentaryby writer Sam George and Noll, Clark and Hamilton is full of memories, but is also quite heavilyladen with insider references. The making-of featurette is a good one of its kind, though FuelTV’s “Blue Carpet Special” at the premiere is strictly promotional. There are five deleted scenes,liner notes with a surfing timeline, and a whack of trailers and ads. The menu’s main screen isanimated and scored.
The filmmakers strike me as being too close to their subject, but the interest level remainshigh throughout.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Making-of Featurette
- Fuel TV
- Deleted Scenes
- Liner Notes with Timeline