So when I was 12 my all-time favorite surf flick was …Lost’s What’s Really Goin’ Wrong, a haphazard, wave & alcohol fueled hour of surf punk with an exorbitant amount of “airs.” Not much substance, not much artistry – just surfing. While watching Nathan Oldfield’s The Heart & The Sea, I couldn’t help thinking how polar opposite my old favorite film and Oldfield’s film are. The Heart & The Sea is so saturated with themes of surfing tradition, family, fashion, and community; it views like Citizen Kane compared to the Van Wilder that is What’s Really Goin’ Wrong (don’t get me wrong, I still love that movie.) Oldfield creates a mellow atmospheric vibe reminiscent of Picaresque but with a traditional and family focused rhetoric, a major shift from typical and straightforward surf flicks. TH&TS flows along easily from boogie boarding families to righteous old dudes shaping boards from scrap wood. The film is solid, the surfing is spectacular but most importantly, the themes of tradition and sustainability are thought provoking.
Oldfield focuses heavily on the idea of tradition through the use of alaia boards. Multiple segments of TH&TS are centered on these wooden gems that are so beautifully designed. Though I did notice the lack of actual surfing that was done with these traditional boards. This fact made me ask myself: when does tradition become outdated? Is swimming after a leash-less wooden board tradition or impractical? At a point in TH&TS a surfer describes his experience with the alaia boards while surfing his way across New Zealand: “People are happy to see that you’re doing something different and it seems to be kind of contagious…” He he continues by saying that people are open to new things in the line-up. But I still have to ask: wouldn’t we still want to apply “new” technologies, such as fins or leashes, and then have them evolve into better, more creative and sustainable boards? It is possible that it is a personal preference, a way to make someone feel like they are in touch with a distant, calmer time. I know that i would like to step out of the automobile laden, ill tempered, fast paced and oppressive city into a past of simplicity.
You can pick up your own copy of The Heart & The Sea, here.