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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 28.13%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 3.13%
Total Crap: 3.13%

2 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Riding Giants
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by EricDSnider

4 stars

DVD sales for "Riding Giants" will probably be brisk, given the film's popularity and critical success, but I wonder if buyers will be disappointed. If ever a film needed to be seen on the big screen to be appreciated, it's this one. How can you fully understand the importance of surfing a 30-foot wave when the wave only appears to be 20 inches tall?

The film that opened the 2004 Sundance Film Festival -- the first documentary to do so -- is an enthralling, entertaining, jaw-dropping look at the history of surfing, told mostly by the men who brought it into vogue in the 1950s. Greg Noll is interviewed extensively, and if that name means anything to you ... well, then you've probably already seen the movie. If not, take the movie's word for it, he's a big name in the surfing world.

It was Noll who, in the late '50s, became the first celebrity big-wave surfer. His outgoing personality and flamboyant style helped bring the sport out of obscurity into greater popularity. But what helped even more were the "Gidget" movies. "Riding Giants" asserts that where there were maybe 5,000 active surfers in 1959, when the first "Gidget" film came out, there were 2 million just five years later.

We learn about the difference between big-wave and small-wave surfing -- it has to do with the style, too, not just the size of the waves, smart-aleck -- with the focus of the film being on the magnitude and danger of big-wave surfing, as opposed to the hot-dogging trickery of small-waving. We learn the pros and cons of having a leash attaching your surfboard to your foot. There is a wealth of old footage and photographs showing the big kahunas of yesteryear surfing Hawaii's stunning Waimea Bay and the treacherous Mavericks of Northern California. We catch a glimpse, through the words of the surfers interviewed, what the appeal is, how a mere sport can become a true way of life.

And we see some killer waves, and that is sometimes meant literally. Watching surfers wipe out is exciting in its own right, but when we see them succeed, gliding flawlessly and unbelievably quickly down a giant wave, it's absolutely thrilling. Director Stacy Peralta, the skateboard champ who brought us the similarly excellent doc "Dogtown and Z-Boys" a few years ago, captures as well as any film can the exhilaration of surfing, telling a number of incredible stories along the way.

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originally posted: 09/03/04 16:37:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2004 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/28/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 5 stars
12/11/04 Monday Morning Shows that surfing is, like, a totally amazing way to waste your life. 2 stars
9/23/04 Surf fan totally amazing 5 stars
7/25/04 ajay the idea of living on the beach and surfing makes me want to rethink my life. :) 4 stars
6/23/04 Lauren Nissen It would make me want to be a better surfer if I didn't live in the desert. 4 stars
6/19/04 keith another clasic from peralta. a great surfing movie for everyone to enjoy! 5 stars
5/20/04 Ed I was able to attend Riding Giants @ Sundance Film Festival (it was this year's opening fil 5 stars
3/08/04 stickman AWESOME-THE GREATEST 5 stars
3/03/04 richard castro the best surf doc ever 5 stars
2/16/04 Paul I have never seen such a boring picture 1 stars
2/11/04 Mike Kneeshaw Great film, but Stacy Peralta is actually a bloke despite teh girly name 5 stars
2/06/04 Ed Grant Over the top - 3 minute standing "O" Giants is a classic!!! 5 stars
2/03/04 AE great doc 5 stars
1/30/04 Bill Morgan Loved it and have recommended it real surfers 5 stars
1/28/04 Jeff Hebeler Superb job at catching these heroes crazy enough to try such feets. 5 stars
1/27/04 jason it rocks little boys's buttholes...hard! 5 stars
1/26/04 jason2 stacey is the man surfs up 5 stars
1/22/04 Will Sinclair If u liked dogtown absoulutely awsome 5 stars
1/20/04 jeff unbelievable 5 stars
1/19/04 Maryann Colescott Amazing 4 stars
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  09-Jul-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-Jan-2005



Directed by
  Stacy Peralta

Written by
  Stacy Peralta
  Sam George

  Laird Hamilton
  Greg Noll
  Jeff Clark

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