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DVD Reviews:  Crystal Voyager

The Final Say!

Feature Score:

Reviewed by Yianni Pak
Distributed by:
The AV Channel
Running Time: 75 Minutes

I recall 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 an 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 collection. 

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.

Crystal Voyager Features

  • Gliding With George: A conversation with George Greenough including extracts from his forthcoming film “Dolphin Glide”

  • Interview with David Elfick

  • Biographies

  • Picture gallery

  • Original Posters

  • Hot to Trot animated cartoon starring Captain Goodvibes


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