The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun: Psychedelic Surf Films, 1966-1979

September 8 to September 10

What matters is when you’re in there, it’s the time interval when you’re inside the wave. Time enters space, a zone of its own. The only reality is what’s happening right then.” – George Greenough

The world of surf films is wild and dense—stretching all the way across the Pacific, generated in the wake of the countercultural, antiwar, free-loving Sixties, and its subsequent swells of disillusionment. However, those longing to get away from the cities and live a more natural lifestyle were not all retreating to the country-living, and surfing as a sport and culture spread throughout Hawaii, California and Australia.

Cameraman–surfer and filmmaker George Greenough, responsible for both the invention of the modern surfboard fin and the first shots taken from inside the waves courtesy his infamous custom kneeboard, beautifully captured the new revolution, wherein surfers built their own lighter, faster, custom boards that provided great mobility and changed surfing forever.

At the heart of all of the films in this program is an underlying message about the sanctity of nature and the desire to create a world of one's own. The renewed interest in early surf culture perhaps stems from a rising resistance to commercialization, corporate sponsorship and rampant consumerism in society and a desire to return to the world of the sport’s humble beginnings.

Guest programmed by Jeremy Rossen, Harvard Film Archives. Program notes by Jeremy Rossen.

Special thanks: Steph Carter and Sean Bridgeman of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, Albert Fazon, George Greenough, Scott Welsh, David Elfick and Harold “Wardie” Ward.

Previously Screened