Tuesday, April 30, 2013




" Nobody Surfs Forever " 

A Thirty Five Year Anniversary Appreciation


 It's hard to believe that thirty five years have passed since this classic surf film about 
California and specifically Malibu beach surfing culture, characters and history had its 
debut. Upon re watching this classic film recently, I was drawn into a kind of nostalgia 
that reminded me of other classic films from the seventies that seem to define the 
formative years here in California. American Graffiti being the other fine example of a 
piece of cinema that celebrates, defines & indeed explains to outsiders what it was like 
to be a part of a California subculture that has since gone mainstream: Classic Cars. 
Big Wednesday does the same thing for Surfing. These days surfing and its nearest 
offspring, skateboarding, are world renown industries owned by a hand full of companies, 
corporations, associations and ecologically informed non-profit organizations.

 But back in the day, guys like Leroy, Jack and Matt made California surfing. The lifestyle 
and its loyalty to expressing ones self with nature was a coveted and special relationship 
that each surfer had on his or her own. It was a private experience one had with the 
waves, the coast, the ocean, the earth itself.  It is a sacred thing to drop in on a wave 
and ride it as long as one is able. Honing a craft, one-second at a time, in unison with 
mother nature. Simply, a person, their craft and the ocean itself relating to one another. 

 I recently took a bike ride along all the coast passing all best surf spots where much of 
the film was photographed. Pacific Coast Highway starting at the County Line, Topanga 
Canyon & on into Malibu Beach. Re visiting these historic beaches and film locations is a 
beautiful way to understand the art of surfing. Reviewing the motion picture Big Wednesday 
directed by John Milius and starring Gary Busey, Jan Michael Vincent and William Katt and 
thinking about their careers & some of the damage done personally was a bit heartbreaking. 
I guess that's the power of film to preserve a time and a place. To express a moment in time, 
be it, documentary, fiction or otherwise. As far as surf films go, when it comes to fictional 
versions of what surfing is about, Big Wednesday, in my book, is simply the best at capturing 
the philosophy, the lifestyle & the character of what it is to be a surfer at that particular time 
and place: the 1960's and its transition into the early seventies. With a cameo by Legendary 
Lightening Bolt founder and classic surfer, Jerry Lopez. An important casting choice that gives 
the film a groundedness in reality & boosted its credibility with real surf fans during its heyday
i& initial release. The red surfboard with a yellow lightening bolt placed directly in a vertical 
fashion down the center of the board was & will always be as iconic as a Mercedes Benz logo. 

There are the documentaries by Bruce Brown: Endless Summer and the like. As well as 
a catalogue of other classics such as Five Summer Stories & the others within the genre.
More recently Stacy Peralta' s Dogtown Documentary & subsequent Lords of Dogtown as 
well as his Big Wave Surf documentaries have added more information to surfing dialogue.
But still and all, Big Wednesday is king. I know because I grew up and witnessed the tail 
end of this particular period and hung out with and admired the older guys who were a 
part of this important period in West Coast & specifically Southern California surf culture.
[ Read the short story SURFERS AND LOWRIDERS on our Website for more on this period]

Big Wednesday captures the music, the friendship, the heroic stature, the generation to 
generation torch passing, the gaining your friends/losing your friends aspect of growing up.
The original musical compositions by Basil Poledouris and theme songs hold up just fine.
Nothing is too trendy or dated, The costumes, sets, locations and acting are what we call 
pitch perfect. The props and logos have become legendary. The BEAR logo to this day is 
being reprinted and celebrated on sweatshirts, classic cars and stickers. Big Wednesday 
is a classic film in the Warner Brothers catalogue that helped to redefine a generation 
of West Coast culture: surfing, skateboarding and the California cool that people from all 
over the world appreciate, envy and honor, sometimes more than the locals themselves.

The actors actually did most of their own surfing in this film, which is rare. There are 
surfing doubles, but the editing and cinematography is extremely well done for its 
time. Shot on real film, on location, with a group of actors and actresses, including Lee
Purcell and Patti D'Arbanville at the very end of a time & place when Hollywood was able 
to create stories that were highly dependent on character, story and emotional content. 

This film which was released in 1978, thirty five years ago, stands up against any film 
of its genre. It's as entertaining as American Graffiti, as honest as Dogtown , as funny 
as Animal House and ultimately a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about the fleeting 
moments in life. Like a wave: life, friends, careers, loves, memories pass rather quickly.
Movies such as Big Wednesday preserve these moments, capture those times, creating 
a painting of sorts, a photograph, a time, a place that will never be the same again. 
Cinema has a way of allowing us to re-enter history, experiencing life itself to enjoy 
over and over. This has been an appreciation of BIG WEDNESDAY on the 35 year 
Anniversary.  An ongoing Series of articles marking the Films, Books & Artworks that  
are worth remembering, re-watching, re-reading and re-celebrating time & time again.

by Joshua A. TRILIEGI Exclusively for http://www.BUREAUofARTSandCULTURE.com



" In The Kingdom of Kitsch "

A Twenty Five Year Anniversary Appreciation


 In 1988 director Phillip Kaufman brought to the screen a novel by Milan Kundera.
Mr Kaufman has always been at least, a decade ahead of the times. His films have 
constantly created genres, influenced directors and bravely translated literature & 
historical events to the screen. His adherence and loyalty to source material is 
unmatched. The Wanderers, The Right Stuff, Henry and June, to name a few, have 
inspired and set the stage for other films within the genre, consistently raising the 
bar on truth, quality, reverence to the originator and entertainment well beyond the 
current trends. Mr. Kaufman brings to life words with a keen sense of detail and a 
wide world view which brings the viewer into a realm of reality or fantasy that seems 
to punctuate humanity and specifically the boundaries with which life presents.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being might be considered his masterpiece, although,
due to his prolific and influential output in other genres, it is safe to say that Kaufman 
will not be remembered for any one film. He is under rated, in terms of being what 
they call a house hold name. But to directors in the industry, film students and 
international film festivals, associations and aficionados, Mr. Kaufman is heroic. 
The Right Stuff opened the door for a slew of astronaut films including Apollo 13.
Kaufman practically created the genre. By setting an absolute tone, fabulous casting,
flawless research and collaboration with top costumers, photographers and producers 
his influence is felt far beyond the time and the place with which his films are released.

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being a stellar cast of actors bring to life historical 
events. Politics, passion, literature and history meld into a contemporary take on a 
situation which relates to and possibly rivals director David Lean's, Doctor Zhivago. 
Film history relies on itself to continue certain traditions. Film makers grow up watching 
films which inspire works of art that later influence the next generation and so on.
As Zhivago was based on a great novel about love that just so happens to be placed 
in a time of political upheaval, so to does the source material for Milan Kundera's novel.

Daniel Day - Lewis spreads his wings in this production which for the first time truly 
employs his talents to an international audience in a story that juxtaposes his love 
for life, women and country and the complications that arise between politics, change,
revolution and expressing one's self as a writer while making a living at another trade,
in this case : brain surgery. One can imagine Mr. Kaufman's desk covered with book 
options through the years & muttering to his producers cliches' such as, 'It's not rocket 
science.' or 'It doesn't take a brain Surgeon.'  But for Kaufman it definitely is rocket 
science & as far as this writer is concerned, it is brain surgery, for Kaufman is a genius. 
I never use the word and yet there it is on the page. There is something about his films 
that generate a certain amount of passion, interest and bon vivant. His take on life is 
liberated, his characters are on the edge of history, pushing the envelope into a new 
time & place. Sam Shepard' s characterization of astronaut Chuck Yeager in the 
Right Stuff is a perfect example. Characters who break boundaries and later seem to 
go uncredited or under the radar. Or bringing to life the triangular love relationship 
between Henry Miller and his lovers. Source material that few directors would know 
how to approach, let alone, how to raise the funds for and bring to life on the screen.

Unbearable Lightness of Being also visits this type of triangular passion and complicated 
relationship that make for great drama. Kaufman's take on life, love & history are dramatic, 
but laced with a pathos, irony and humor that keeps one interested through out. He has 
a rare viewpoint that illustrates life's issues and relationships in an original & complicated 
way. With stellar performances by Lena Olin and a fresh faced newcomer on the scene, 
Juliet Binoche. Supporting cast includes Stellan Skarsgard. This erotic, yet human feature 
film takes us inside Czekloslavakia during a particularly tumultuous time in their history 
with an oppressive an invasive Russian takeover during the nineteen sixties. Politics, passion 
and provocation abound. Kaufman's films almost never come in at the usual commercial 
time of ninety minutes. He is an artist, most of his features are two hours or more. 
Unbearable Lightness of Being comes in at an epic 172 minutes, just under three hours. 
Every scene, every line, every moment is fresh, alive, undeniably truthful, unabashedly 
human & heartbreakingly real. Originally a part of the Orion Pictures catalogue. Produced 
by The Saul Zaentz Company. A brave and bold historical film well worth celebrating.

This has been an appreciation of UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING on the 25 year 
Anniversary.  An ongoing Series of articles marking the Films, Books & Artworks that  
are worth remembering, re-watching, re-reading and re-celebrating time & time again.

by Joshua A. TRILIEGI Exclusively for http://www.BUREAUofARTSandCULTURE.com