watching a film called North Shore some time ago, in which one of the main
characters talked about “soul surfers”, surfers who took part in the sport for
the sheer love rather than to make money or earn sponsorships, or win
competitions. George Greenough is undoubtedly one such surfer.
Crystal Voyager is a surf
film/documentary, originally released in 1972, which explores Greenough’s
surfing life, along with two friends (Nat Young and Richie West). They surf
for the experience alone, travelling about in their customized dinghy (the
specs for which were apparently inspired by a dream of alien visitation!) and
later in a yacht built by Greenough alone, seeking out the “gnarliest” tubes
in the least crowded locales.
Some of the footage, while being
rather unspectacular in terms of actual surfing, is quite breathtaking in it’s
ability to show the viewer the beauty of a breaking wave from under the water
and even deep within the tube. It’s quite akin to actually “being there”,
which was presumably Greenough’s intention when he made the film.
Crystal Voyager was shot on 16mm
film, and as such the video quality is rather grainy. Given that the movie was
released over three decades ago, it is perhaps somewhat understandable that
the transfer is not going to be perfect. There are a fair number of dust
specks evident, although they don’t really detract from the viewing
experience. Overall it’s perfectly watchable.
Audio basically consists of a
music soundtrack, with the occasional voice-over by Greenough. It’s typical
seventies surf music, tripped out and mellow, and it suits the visuals
perfectly. However it’s not the kind of film anyone is going to want to use to
show off their surround sound setup.
The collection of extras
included on the DVD is not bad. You get a short interview segment with
Greenough in which it becomes apparent that he is indeed
eccentric and opinionated
individual. He talks about his new project “Dolphin Glide” and shows viewers
around his pyramid-shaped house and lazy man’s garden. Also included is an
interview with David Elfick, creator of Tracks magazine, which is quite
interesting. There’s a short animated feature starring an unusual pig named
Captain Goodvibes, which is pretty surreal. It’s actually quite reminiscent of
the old Beatles “Yellow Submarine” cartoons. You also get a few bios of people
involved in the film, and some pictures and posters to round out the
Crystal Voyager is not an
“action-packed” surf movie. It’s quite laid back and abstract in many parts,
and probably won’t appeal to those wanting an “adrenaline rush” type of film.
It is, however, quite interesting in a surreal way, and in many parts
extremely beautiful in its depiction of waves in motion. Surfers will probably
love it, and it’s worth checking out by anyone else who desires a laid back
and relaxing documentary.
George: A conversation with George Greenough including extracts from his
forthcoming film “Dolphin Glide”
with David Elfick
Hot to Trot
animated cartoon starring Captain Goodvibes