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Riding Giants (Special Edition)
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Product Description

Riding Giants is more than another blissful surfing movie. It's an outstanding documentary about one era in American alternative lifestyles, when surfing was well-suited to a radical culture of social dropouts. Using an amazing array of amateur film clips, shot for the most part in Hawaii and California from the late 1950s and early '60s, director Stacy Peralta traces the rise of surfing's appeal to young men looking to test themselves in an unorthodox (and sexy) milieu--of "living life to the fullest," as former surfer-turned-screenwriter John Milius (Big Wednesday) puts it at one point. Lengthy chapters on the glories of Oahu's Makaha and the "superstition and dread" that accompanied the big-wave challenge of Waimea Bay are riveting and sometimes heroic, particularly told through the memories of surf legend Greg Noll. Great material, too, about the deadly wonders of surfing Mavericks, California, where the rocks will get one if the violent tides don't. --Tom Keogh

From its early Hawaiian roots to its current status as a recreational lifestyle enjoyed worldwide, bigwave surfing is given the definitive exploration by acclaimed director Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys).

Customer Reviews:

  • Absolutely ridiculous
    This movie is sick. If it wasn't for the fear of being crushed to death by a 50 foot wave, I would move to Hawaii and start big wave surfing tomorrow. I watched Riding Giants last week and every day since then I have been sitting in my cubicle at work searching the net for Jaws footage. This is easily the best surfing movie ever, and probably the best documentary of the year.
    Also, if I was forced to have my girlfriend cheat on me, but I got to choose who it would be with, it would be with Laird Hamilton. Hell, after a few beers I'd probably do it....more info
  • A great movie for any sports fan
    This is the most impressive movie about surf, focused on giant waves. It shows the sport on the historical prospective supported by excellent remarks made by alive surfer legends.
    I strongly recommend this movie for whoever like sports in general. I am not a surfer and loved it. ...more info
  • Giants Riding Giants
    This is only one of three surf movies I actually paid to see in a theater before buying the DVD. I watch it at least twice a year. The "brief history of surfing" is absolutely hysterical. If you had to describe the surfing culture to someone who didn't surf, this is what you'd show them. Greg Noll makes the movie. His language and candor is a refreshing change from modern day professionals....more info
  • Awesome action! Simply one of the best...
    I met Laird back in 1984 when he moved into the condo next door during his brief fling at modeling for the now defunct Surfbreaker clothing line in southern orange county, CA. Even back then at the age of 20 or so, you could tell he was destined for something great in the surfing world. He was not only in awesome physical condition, but was was easy going and friendly to those he met...and you could see he lived to surf.
    Now to the film... if you are interested in the history of Big Wave surfing, you HAVE to get RIDING GIANTS! It starts with a brief history going back hundreds of years and works up to the 40's and 50's with some great footage of all the greats who made this sport what it is today. There are not only unbelievable action shots of HUGE waves from that era, but the still pictures and interviews with the legends are in themselves worth this movie.
    Fast forward to the culmination of all that went before, with an amazing shot of Laird catching the most perfectly shaped HUGE heavy wave you've ever seen (Tahiti)...BUY this movie, its a must for anyone who loves the ocean!

    Steve...more info
  • Men Who Ride Mountains...
    Once again Stacy Peralta(Dogtown & Z-Boys) has outdone himself. The sheer ferocity of the waves you see in the movie is just unreal. That on top of having the surfers themselves, many of whom helped pioneer the sport to where it is today, is awesome. Riding Giants is a true pleasure to watch and the job Peralta and friends does w/ the editing is great. One giant thrillride! Go get this one... it's fantastic....more info
  • It ain't about surfing, its about living big
    Listening to Greg Noll talk as old man about his relationship with the giant waves who every once in a while will wink at him is so powerful it almost takes your breath away. This movie is completely captivating and portrays the roots of surfing in a very personal way. Its just something these guys did, something no one else had done and they just did it without thinking about it - and big wave surfing was born.

    I don't surf but I recognize the pull of getting in that zone that certain sports produce. This film gives you a window on that zone in surfing....more info
    okay laird (hamilton) is great, laird is good, laird is a all american rolemodel and laird is the pretty face in a american express commercial ....... bit big wave surfing isn't all about laird and his buddies. mister peralata - your film about the dog town skaters are nice and your "documentary" about the hawaiian surfers too ... but i do think that too much money from the industrie doesn't help to make a documentary good, instructive, exploratory, and most important neutral. you missed some important facts and important people - who influenced the sport probably more than laird "i want to be on the cover of people magazine" hamilton and his buddies and should you think that the tow-in crew isn't about real surfing ... i think i saw laird doing this at jaws :-)...more info
  • Makes me wish I could surf.
    I saw this movie on TV and kept watching it everytime I saw it was on. It really makes me wish I would have learned to surf when I was younger. It's really a wonderful film....more info
  • Ultimate Big Wave Movie
    This is THE movie for people who are fascinated by big wave surfing.
    Nice historical background as well. The helicopter sequenes are just jaw-dropping....more info
  • A willing suspension of disbelief
    I do not claim to be a surfer (nor do I wish that I led the life of a beach bum) but I am forever fascinated by the men and women who tackle surfing those giant waves all over the world. This DVD is an excellent portrayal of the early history and current events in the world of board surfing giant waves. The story is well presented and the cinematography is simply mezmerizing. More than likely you missed this movie (as it is not probable that it came to many theaters). I first caught the tail end of the movie on cable t.v. and I was hooked. This DVD will not disappoint those who would like to know more about big wave board surfing. This is one DVD that I would willingly watch again and again with friends...but I am not willing to "share". Get your own and you'll be pleased with what you have....more info
    This documentary is very comprehensive and it respectfully affords each era of surfing their fair time. It is wrtten very well and the surf is amazing as well as editing and camera direction. I love the commentary too, just as much as the film. Rent it now!...more info
  • Men and women of faith
    This is a great film.

    As this documentary unfolds, what grips you is the crystalline purity with which these men and women pursue the thing that makes them happy; makes them feel, at least for that one moment when they skim atop a liquid volcano, absolutely connected to everything. My favorite surfer, among many great legends and personalities, was Jeff Clark, who surfed the towering, icy, rock-strewn waters of Maverick, California for fifteen years by himself before anyone seemed to know it was there.

    I have never surfed in my life. This film did not make me want to become a surfer. Instead, it reminded me that life is something to be loved and lived with devotion. How many films have you seen that have given you that feeling? --Mykal Banta
    ...more info
  • Kowabunga, dude!
    This is, to paraphrase Jeff Spicoli, a bitchin' movie with some tasty waves. It starts with a history of surfing and proceeds to cover the early big-wave surfers in Hawaii from the 40's and 50's and moves to California where the action shifted in the 60's. The section on Mavricks in Northern California was especially good before ending back in Hawaii with present-day monster-wave surfing legend Laird Hamilton.

    The photography is absolutely stunning making you go, like, "Whoa, dude! How they get that shot?" The interviews with both old and current big-wave riders were well done, very entertaining, and quite informative. All in all, a masterful movie, even for non-surfers.

    If everything you know about surfing comes from watching Beach Blanket Bingo ten or twenty times, think again. See this movie and you'll never look at the ocean in quite the same way again....more info
  • A Hagiography to Surfers
    There's a Boys Club camaraderie to Riding Giants, kind of like watching much cooler versions of U.S. Senators putting aside all their ideologicial and personality differences to make a windy documentary on how great it is to be one big happy club under the Capitol Dome. Or, put another way, there's a lot of the old SNL gag, "I'm Chevy Chase...and you're not," in Riding Giants. If you can get past that thick aura of cool guy -- and it is nearly all guy -- self-congratulation, the film has many, many sequences of amazing surfing (through waves that are in many ways the stars of the movie) that make the case for the sport's danger, beauty, and spiritual appeal far better than any of the surfers' comments. Three exceptions to that general rule -- the description of recovering the body of Mark Foo, and, over the credits, the rhetorical question of whether if someone were seeking an ultimate religious experience would people call him a "religious bum" and Greg Noll's thinking that Waimea winked at him recently as he watched the third or fourth new generation in the waves that he had first ridden. ...more info
  • Facinating look into the history of surfing
    Whether you have any inherent interest in surfing or not, this documentary is still facinating. It covers not only this history of how surfing evolved to its present form, but also how surfers were viewed by the media and the world at large, and the passions that drove these surfers to devote all their waking hours to the pursuit of one amazing wave. It allows this film to be deeply interesting on many levels. The format is also excellent, with out the use of too much overly flashy effects (which I felt detracted some what from the similiar, still excellent but inferior cinematicly, Dogtown and ZBoys). The footage and the interviews really speak for themselves....more info
  • That's The Way It Was -- And Still Is
    I surfed in high school and college -- in the sixties and early seventies -- and this is the first movie that really communicates the way it was then. It also communicates the incredible obsession that many surfers have with their sport. If you've ever surfed, or if you haven't and want to know a little of what drives surfers, this is the movie for you. Ever since I saw it, I've been thinking, if I get back in shape, maybe........more info
  • Stacy goes surfing...
    Stacy Peralta's "Riding Giants" is a worthy successor to his groundbreaking "Dogtown and Z-Boys". Worthy, but not as important, simply because he's not covering a story that's gone untold as he did before.

    When Peralta did "Dogtown & Z-Boys", he was not only documenting a moment in time that was unknown to most outside a small niche culture, it was almost forgotten by the current generation of skaters who owed many of their moves & attitudes to it. This made "Dogtown & Z-Boys" not only an enjoyable documentary, but an important one as well.

    "Riding Giants" covers ground that has been partially covered before, most recently in "Step Into Liquid". What does set "Riding Giants" apart from the pack of surf documentaries are never-seen archival footage & photos from the late 1950's, shot by one of the original big-wave riders, Greg Noll. The shots of Hawaii's North Shore nearly 50 years ago are amazing; no hotels, no crowds, hardly any roads. Noll & his compadres were true trailblazers into this unknown frontier.

    A highlight of the film is the Mavericks section. The home movie footage spotlights how courageous Jeff Clark was to surf this gnarly, cold brute for 15 years by himself. Although Clark downplays the bravery displayed by categorizing Mavericks as his "refuge", when surfer Mike Ho is killed his first day there, the danger is made clear to even the driest couch potato.

    My favorite part of the DVD is one of the Special Features. In additon to the usual director's commentary, the viewer can also eavesdrop on the surfers themselves discussing the movie as it plays. Listening to Greg Noll, Laird Hamilton & Jeff Clark pointing out the finer aspects of take offs, board design, & swapping anecdotes is truly a treat & not to be missed!

    So, "Riding Giants" isn't indispensable in the way "Dogtown & Z-Boys" is, but the DVD is certainly worth purchasing for the special features. You'll definitely be viewing it multiple times.
    ...more info
  • A masterpiece. Stunning. Unbelievable. Inspiring...and downright merciless.
    I only hope to do justice to Mr. Peralta's film with my fumbling words...I was so moved by this film. History, personality, man vs. nature, tragedy and triumph, and breath-taking, death-defying surfing and cinematography. You can almost feel the adrenaline, my heart was pounding in my chest watching these guys catch, or not catch waves. The last 5 minutes is one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen, to see such natural perfection, and the humbleness that comes from witnessing it, is nothing short of a gift. This film will stay with you and inspire you... even if you're not a surfer (like me)....more info
  • Riveting!
    I found this documentary movie to be absolutely fantastic and moving. It's a must see!!!!!...more info
  • This movie changed the way I looked @ surfing...forever
    I saw this film for the first time a little over a year ago, and I instantly fell in love. I think the direction of the film, teaching us about the true history of big wave riders was very well done. (I would expect nothing less of Stacy Peralta though.) This film is everything you've ever wanted to know and see about big wave surfing. If you're more attracted to the old surf lifestyle, but you like a little newbie mixed in, you'll buy this film before you forget. NO collection should be without it. The commentary by the legendary Greg Noll is worth more than money itself. The man is a genius! Laird Hamilton is of course, another superstar, and you see some really great big wave action in here as well. They cover all of the greatest spots including Waimea Bay...Mavericks, CA...the north shore of Oahu...I'm telling you, if you're ANY kind of surf enthusiast or you just simply wanna know more..or you love the sport more than life will love this dvd. It's one of my all time favorites! :)...more info
  • A documentary about passion
    My wife and I are skate skiers living near Tahoe and this movie, along with Step Into Liquid, was the perfect movie for a Saturday night in January after a day out playing in the snow.

    This review can't match the detail or eloquence of the spotlighted reviews. What I can say is that Peralta captures the passion that grips each of the surfers he interviews. What else but passion makes a guy paddle 45 minutes through cold Northern Cali surf to surf a monstrous wave that, if it doesn't drown him, can pound his body through a boneyard? And does it solo for fifteen years? That, my friends, is the passion of someone who loves what he does without any regard for glory or fame. May we all find that one thing in life that inspires us so.

    My only critique (one that I had with SIL and ES II, but that doesn't mean the movie is less than five stars) is that the movie lacks a discussion of the severe localism that plagues certain beach communities and is inconsistent with the surfing happy face presented here.

    But that's nitpicking....surfing movies are meant to be fun and transporting. We loved Endless Summer II, smiled and "wowed" our way through SIL, and highly recommend Riding Giants....more info
  • Flows Amazingly
    I borrowed this from my Library but I am going to order it asap. Amazing documentary following the different lives of surfers. Laird Hamilton is my hero anyway, but I was so amazed how well this documentary flowed from one story to the next. I just kept thinking that through it. And the passion of the surfers shown is evident and amazing. I have amazing respect for these men and women. Definitely buy it when you get the chance, you won't regret it!...more info
  • "..........Oh, my GOD!"

    "This is the sea" -by Waterboys & Mike Scott

    These things you keep
    you better throw them away
    turn your back
    on your soulless days
    once you were tethered
    now you are free
    once you were tethered
    now you are free

    that was the river
    this is the sea
    if you're feelin' weary
    or you been alone too long
    or maybe you been sufferin' from
    a few too many
    plans that have gone wrong
    and you're tryin' to remember
    how fine your life used to be
    runnin' around banging your drum
    like it's 1973

    well that was the river
    this is the sea
    now you say you got trouble
    you say you got pain
    you say you got nothin' left to believe in
    nothin' to hold on to
    nothin' but chains
    you been scourin' your conscience
    and rakin' through your memories
    you been scourin' your conscience
    and rakin' through your memories

    but that was the river
    this is the sea
    Now I can see you wavering
    as you try to decide
    you got a war in your head
    and it's tearin' you up inside
    you're tryin' to make sense
    of something that you just don't see
    you're tryin' to make sense now
    and you know that you once held the key

    but that was the river...
    this is the sea
    Now I hear there's a train
    it's comin' down the line
    it's yours if you hurry
    you got still enough time
    you don't need no ticket
    and you don't pay no fee
    you don't need no ticket
    and you don't pay no fee
    that was the river
    this is the sea

    ["I don't wanna....not live....because of something that MIGHT happen..." --Laird Hamilton ]

    The reality of Big Wave Surfing, is about living without fear. To hell with death. To hell with the fear of what might happen. This is about LIVING. All the song lyrics repeat this message over and over. The deeply spiritual message of RIDING GIANTS, is that the fear of death should not limit living, whether in play or work. Thus, the Chinese Proverb, saying "HE-WHO-FEARS-DEATH-DIES-A-THOUSAND-TIMES" comes to its culmination it big wave surfing. The SUN, WAVES, WIND, and being fully alive in the moment.....good grief. LET GO! This is Zen Buddhism, martial arts, Messianic fervor, Buckaroo Bonzai, and Larry-The-Cable-Guy... all in a package, SHAKIN' STONES!

    I am so pleased that "This is the sea" is the very first music on the CD, as it was the epitome of the documentary's music and statement. Mike Scott authored the lyrics with which "Riding Giants" is reprised. It sums up and affirms the comments by big wave surfer Dr. Rennekker in this powerful documentary, stating that big wave surfing is about TRANSFORMATION.

    I've seen Riding Giants over 22 times in the past three months, having ordered my own copy for deeper study several weeks ago. I was deeply impressed by the featured surfers, and also by magazine editor Sam George's comments about big wave surfing being a kind of faith.

    The powerful combination of lyrics to "This is the sea" with the views of magazine editor Sam George & Dr. Renneker, have a strong effect. As Dr. Rennekker says it;

    "It's about eliminating the B*S*."

    I'm not a big wave surfer, nor ever will be. I'm a chess player, another sub-culture, which like surfing, is said to sometimes be addictive. There are "waves" in chess also. Great big ones, when you are "in the moment, " balancing on a wave of energy and feeling, excluding all else, and you see a leverage move, and in the silent exuberance of your mind, focused entirely on the wavelike motion of little pieces on the the board, you say; "OH, MY GOD!" Such a moment is depicted in "Riding Giants" in regards to the killer wave ridden off the coast of Tahiti by Laird Hamilton in 2000. Big Wave Surfing is about a kind of mastery, about "letting go". This is not about the river. "This is the SEA, yeah...."

    A recurring theme in Life, is that people are searching; searching for some kind of "connected" feeling. The sea is as deep a connection as can be found in the things of the earth. For this we sail, we swim, we leave home and go on "adventures".

    This is as powerful a documentary as I have ever seen. The span of time covered, all of the 20th Century and a little before, lends to the docummentary the air of a cultural phenomenon. Powerful, as much for what was not shown, as for the featured film clips of surfers. All the events of world history are a mere blur in the background. In the words of Mike Scott...that world is "...the river. THIS IS THE SEA, yeah!", eternal, because this is about men and women on a board, with only a swim suit and courage. It's about the moment. It's the antithesis of our industrialized, mass educated, media-driven culture, riding glorious mechanization into the New Jerusalem, fearful that something might happen. The waves are free.

    The soundtrack is incredible. The soundtrack, the personalities, the phenomenon of personal transformation, the phenomenon of surfing itself, make this a documentary that will endure for decades. This is not about paddling out to catch 5 foot waves along some sunny Southern California coastline. This is about GIANT waves in excess of 20', perhaps as high as a hundred feet, that the words of a young woman big wave surfer, ..." have to just KNOW you're going to make it."

    It is not suggested that these unique individuals have done something for mankind; but what they have found for themselves is something that all of us can discover. This is the Sea. Yeah.

    ...more info
  • Watch this in HD
    I'm not a Surfer, nor do I follow the culture or know anything about it. I do know about, and am a fan of interesting and insightful DVD's. Last night I was watching TV when the program I attempted to watch started to bore me. I changed the channel and found Riding Giants in HD, it was just starting so I decided to watch it for little bit. It was 1 A.M. when I started watching it...I planned on going to sleep but was captured by the story telling and legend of past surfers. I've never surfed before or had a particular interest in surfing, but this DVD just got me. I'd recommend it for sure. The waves in HD are absolutely stunning. ...more info
  • A Giant Documentary
    I'm not a surfer, although I tried surfing once and got horribly sunburned. Until this video, that was the extent of my knowledge and interest in surfing. I caught the previews for this on the Discovery Channel and set the DVR to record it in HD. I started watching it, and my wife, who is usually not interested in this type of sports video, migrated into the living room and sat spellbound like me. The craziness of the early days of surfing, the board development, and the challenge to survive giant waves are woven into a fascinating documentary. The photography, especially shots taken from inside killer waves, is stunningly gorgeous. If you are a fan of Warren Miller ski films, this should be for you. I purchased the DVD from Amazon so I could share it with my children and friends.

    You really get to know the people who made the sport into an industry. The side stories really fit into the main theme very well and keep the interest at a very high level. It makes you feel like part of the family of surfers by the way you get into the lives of those who lived the surfing life. I live about 90 miles away from Half Moon Bay and when the Mavericks Surf Contest was postponed/cancelled this year, my wife and I took notice and even felt bad for the surfers who wouldn't be able to compete this year.

    If you want a video that chronicles the lives of some pretty wacky people who should all be dead right now but have survived because of their inventiveness. If you want a video that will hold your interest because of the story line and inspires you with awesome photography, get this one.
    ...more info
  • Riding Giants
    The entire DVD is phenomenal! It is so real and so personal -- I relate to it completely. Highly recommend it for those independent and VERY free spirits....more info