Albe Falzon: 'Morning of the Earth' Fifty Years On

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)
Talking Heads

Fifty years ago, Australia was a very different country. On the cusp of electing the Whitlam government which pulled Australia out of Vietnam, bought the environment to the forefront, and ushered in reforms which transformed the country away from being a conservative colonial outpost tacked onto the bottom of Asia. No film symbolised this newfound sense of freedom, egalitarianism, and living in harmony with nature more than 'Morning of the Earth'.

It was filmmaker and Tracks founder Albe Falzon's first film, a huge hit and a statement that has resonated down through the decades, even if as a potent message from the past about what has been lost.

However, could we go back?

Could we accept the hard turn to professionalism and commercialisation was a wrong turn and we need to go backwards to go forwards?

Over an uncompromising chat with Albe on his Mid North Coast property dodging bandicoot holes in his garden, he makes a strong case for just that scenario.

Steve Shearer: Can you give me an overview of the fifty year anniversary of 'Morning of the Earth'?
Albe Falzon: Did you see the film Spoons?

No, I didn't, heard of it though.
The director of that film, Justin Mische, came out three years ago and I hooked up with them because they wanted to meet up with George [Greenough] and we went surfing down here together and became really good friends. He'd studied filmaking at Santa Barbara and was really into traditional filmmaking.

During the course of our time together he asked me, “What are you doing with Morning of the Earth?” and I said, "Nothing”.

He then asked if I was interested in allowing him to have a go at restoring it from the original 16mm camera takes. Those takes were being held at the Film and Sound Archives in Canberra.

I said, "Yeah, that'd be fantastic". They'd been restoring old footage for Spoons.

We got release of the master camera takes and sent them to LA where he spent the next two-and-a-half years cleaning and restoring the film back to its original shape and size from when it was first shown. He wanted to show the film the way it was originally shown when it was first released.

Now we have a film that's really close to the original footage and super clean and absolutely beautiful with colours that haven't been messed with.

Do you think the sense that we can live in harmony with nature that Morning of the Earth evoked still has a resonance today?
I think everyone has a heart. A beautiful heart. But it gets buried. It gets buried in illusion: Life's gunna be better if you've got a better car, or if you've got more money, or if you are this or that. They paint this illusionary picture of glamour. You're life's gunna be better if you've got stuff.

It's just the materialistic approach to life that turns the wheels of business and the economy - it has nothing to do with the reality of living. If you can put a mirror on to people and take away the blinkers, even if for a minute or two so they can see who they are and start to think differently perhaps the dance will be different.

I think Morning of the Earth is a mirror and it just reflects something really basic: It just gives us a look, as surfers, at what we've got and what we should be caring for.

Nat Young has often referenced this idea of surfer consciousness and thus if more people surfed the world would be a better place. Do you have a view on that?
I think thats old world thinking. It's like a bigger car is a better car, a bigger house is a better house, more money in the bank is going to make your life better and you'll be happier. It's a great illusion. It's not more, it's actually less. We have to scale down, not scale up. For the last forty or fifty years the mantra has been scale up. As a result of that we've paid an enormous price which is now coming back to bite us on the arse.

What's really important now is to tread lightly. Only use what you need and only need the essentials in life. You don't have to go without. Just scale down to the essentials of what you need to live on this planet without hurting it or harming it.

You moved up to the Mid North Coast just after Morning of the Earth was made, what drove that?
We were looking for a rural property on the North Coast. At the time I was driving up and going to Crescent a lot to surf. You don't get to the North Coast until you get to Crescent; once you get to Crescent you are moving into that sub-tropical area. We didn't get much further than Grassy Head which is only twenty minutes past Crescent. We just stumbled on it; it was the first place we looked at. 135 acres for $21,000.

Oh my god, thats heartbreaking. A chunk of land here will set you back multi-millions now.
It's amazing the value of real estate in this country when you think about it. It's inflated to such a point and it's all based on selfishness and greed. If you look at this country and you look at the land. When people grow up and get married have kids, we have enough land in Australia to give young people a block of land free when they get married. They did that for the returned soldiers after the Second World War.

Now, with the selfishness in our society it's priced to an extent that is beyond comprehension. It's incomprehensible thats it's actually got to this point. It's mind boggling.

Yet, here we are.
I stay away from that world. I think you are in the world but you are also travelling through it so you become more of an observer as well as a participant. You can watch what unfolds and as you see it unfold you realise the people making decisions on our behalf – you wonder where their heads are at.

Nowadays, it's the top 1% of the population that control the money and they keep buying up all this stuff and keep prices up and they just trade it off between them. In most cases they just put bulldozers and chainsaws through it and cut everything down.

We've tried to regenerate this place.

It comes back beautifully, doesn't it?
Thats our responsibility as custodians of the planet. The Aboriginals knew that. We, in our arrogance, and selfishness and false sense of power have just come in and bulldozed everything. Now we are facing an international crisis because of the abuse of the raw materials of this Earth. There's going to be a big comeback on that.

I'd love to see the next generation get their hands on this land and regenerate it.
You do what you can in your own backyard. This place I bought was derelict; it was absolutely abused. All the trees were cut out, then the cattle compressed all the soil down, then they doused it with chemicals. It's not that they didn't care, they were ignorant and they had no foresight. It was just a broken down, dilapidated property. Bit by bit we've put care into it and now it's a really healthy vital property.

That's good to hear.
We can be responsible for our own block of land. If this is a microcosm, if more people were conscious of it then they would leave the place better off for being there. Most of them don't, they walk away from it, having destroyed it in the process. Thats the reason we are releasing Morning of the Earth again. It has a spark to it and hopefully it reminds people how beautiful this place is. Most people don't realise the value and the opportunity they've been given on this planet. All we can do - you, me and those who are conscious - is work where we are and try and contribute to where we are and make that spot better off as a result. That's what we've done here.

Morning of the Earth came out in 1972 and represented a peak in the idea of surfers living in harmony with nature. Why do you think four or five years later the surf culture made a hard turn towards professionalism?
Greed, in a word. Because we've been programmed from the day we've been born, part of that program was to be part of economic development and growth. In the post-war world our society was built on the idea that we had to develop our resources and have a better house and a bigger car and make sure everyone's got refrigerators. That entered into the surfing culture as well. So the people in that system made wetsuits and thought we can make more wetsuits and get bigger and better and that took over. At the same time they developed this competitive arena. It was developed for two reasons.

One was to develop it as a sport to see who was best. You have to realise that there's a lot of losers in that system - it's a divisive approach to life.

That then became the platform for the corporations to utilise surfing to sell product. Therein lies the beginning of the end. Once the international surf contests got started it was all over. It shifted into selfishness, greed, development, and more money. That, for me, was the beginning of the end of the era. The era of what we attempted to do in Tracks which was then taken over by corporations who saw an opportunity to make huge amounts of money and they did. Ten years went by and surfing went down a hole.

Has it come out again?
Well, it hit bottom. As it always does because it was based on the wrong premise and the wrong reasons. Sooner or later it's going to breakdown because it's not based on truth. It was based on greed and selfishness. Well, that's all over now and you get these home brand companies that are surfacing because there is a consciousness there that people want to have a sustainable life. They realise that surfing has provided them with great opportunity and they are utilising that as a way to change people into a positive approach to living and to tread lightly on the planet.

Do you have a favourite scene from Morning of the Earth?
It's gone full circle for me and I can look at it from a two-fold point of view. I like to look at the whole because it's my first film and was my baby, but if I break it into parts there are obviously high points and the high point of the surfing is obviously Michael [Peterson] surfing up at Kirra. The other high point apart from the surfing is the introduction of the beautiful Balinese culture into the film.

Now that we are releasing it again there's been a big shift when I look at it. Now I think what's important in the film is the flash and the flare that opens the film because that's the birth of the world. Not only the birth of the world in our solar system, it's the rebirth of consciousness, and you can interpret that any way you want.

It's not the content in the film that is important to me now, it's the consciousness behind the film and it's reflected perfectly in that image at the start of the film.

Is there extra footage in this remastered version you are about to release? Something that hasn't been seen before..?
Not in the film. The film is absolutely identical. It's beautiful.

What we found last year was ninety minutes of outtakes. I knew they existed but I'd given up hope of ever finding them. Then I got a call one day from Adam Eden who is the son of Jack Eden – who was a photographer in that period of time. Jack died two years ago and Adam was going through his estate and amongst all this footage found three cans marked 'Morning of the Earth', and he called me up to let me know he had something that might interest me.

He sent them to me, I sent them over to America to Justin and we put together a thirty minute outtake film called RE-MOTE. It's raw footage from the making of Morning of the Earth. It's a thirty minute plus add-on.

 

 

So is this having a cinematic release? Whats the plan..?

Well, you wanna make God laugh? There is no plan. We kind of think, stand back and let the film take its own direction (laughs).

We're going to let Tracks mag, which was there in the beginning and it's gone full circle and is now in the hands of people that really love it - it's not a corporate magazine anymore. They are going to set up a screening for us early next year along the East Coast.

What we're also going to do is open it up to the audience and the viewer. If they want to screen the film we'll give it to them to screen. We want to give it away to people to show to clubs or family or their community and all we ask of them is to make a contribution to an environmental issue that would be of value in the area or nationally.

There's also a book that'll be going out alongside of it. That was done by Justin and his friend in Los Angeles.

So there are two films and a book for the Morning of the Earth fiftieth anniversary.

Thanks for your time, Albe, I can't wait to see the remastered film, the extra footage, and the book.

Click here for more information about 'Morning of the Earth' remastered and the fiftieth anniversary book

Comments

Panman's picture
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Panman Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 4:17pm

This movie will live forever I don’t have the words to describe what it means to me. I saw it at Long Jetty cinema and pretty sure Alby was running the projector from the rear stalls.

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blindboy Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 4:26pm

Morning Of The Earth is a great movie and we are fortunate that someone of Albe's talent was there to record that brief shining moment in our history. It had a huge impact on all of us. Not least by giving us one of the first glimpses of what lay so close to the north waiting to be explored. But as he makes clear in the interview, it was only a moment.
I started writing about surfing around the time Morning Of The Earth was released and continued to do so through to the birth of professionalism (Bronzed Aussies etc). During that time I was constantly critical of the direction the surf industry and competitive surfing were taking.
That said I think Albe misses a big point about why things changed and where that change was coming from. Simple demographics were a huge influence. The changes came from the ground up. In all the population centres on the east coast the crowds grew rapidly. It was 99% male and the average age was teens to early 20s. The atmosphere on good days went very rapidly from relaxed to frantic. Competition wasn't just about organised events, it was an every day experience. I am not going to defend the industry or their decision to link to Coca Cola and put surfing images all over TV and create huge billboard images of it.....but that is exactly what the successful surfers of that era with few exceptions, wanted and worked for with great intensity and passion. I know, I was there, I copped the spiels. I shared with many of those surfers in Hawaii and elsewhere, I surfed with them and interviewed them. The idea that the industry imposed it from above is not true. They took advantage of the situation to hook into the mainstream. Was it a good thing? Probably not but it could have been much worse. At least most of those in control were surfers.

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Chocalatte Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 2:22pm

Ditto to you Blindboy, though I'd add that to some extent I reckon Albe is also close, in that selfishness & personal greed drove plenty of the people who breathed life into 'pro surfing' & kicked big goals in the 'surf industry'. As somebody who has spent 30+ years working in & around the 'surf industry', there were some who did it for purely personal gain & some who did it because they were determined that surfing deserves respect, despite it being one of the most pointless, selfish & hedonistic activities of humankind. And as somebody who has enjoyed arguing with plenty of non-surfers who have exhibited their disrespect/lack of respect for surfing & surfers, I've often simply walked away from those arguing against surfing, because they just don't get it...

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astrothewonderdog Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 9:37am

Surfing competitions are not real surfing - you have to do so many "tricks" and set manoeuvres to score points and length of ride and style count for nothing. I was amazed when I first saw surfers in contests pulling off waves with plenty of line to go because they had done all the moves required for scoring. Real surfing is what we saw in Morning of the Earth - getting out and communing with nature and just enjoying the "vibe" of tapping the power of the ocean's swells. Now every kid in the line-up wears a board and wetsuit (even in Qld in summer!) covered with promotional stickers, and thinks they are the next Kelly Slater and are going to be rich and famous from surfing. I am so glad I was around in the MOTE times when you could enjoy Byron's the Pass or Ti Tree at Noosa at 4-6ft with just a handful of guys out on a mid-week day. Now both those spots are packed out 7 days a week even if the swell is only 1-2ft. Surfing lost its soul when it went from an alternative lifestyle to just another sport. I imagine most under 30s or even 40s these days would find it very hard to relate to the spirit and times of Morning of the Earth.

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brandonrooney14 Monday, 22 Nov 2021 at 10:27am

I did, once, have that sense at Noosa/the Pot a few years ago...

Paddled out at about 4pm on New Years eve and the only other bloke out was John Charlton (JC) with two other dolphins cruising the lineup. Tide pushing up from dead low, no wind and about head high waves. Textbook fun Noosa wavepooly kinda stuff. He eventually went in and left me all to my lonesome. I was bellying in at Johnsons and was sprinting laps back up to the point trying to get my fill before I lost all of the light. I'd run myself so hard at one point I'd near had a spew before I rocked off.

Came in around 7.30pm and had realised that I'd parked in complete darkness and couldn't see the numbers on my key safe. Appearing out of the darkness, I essentially ambushed this lady driving through the carpark if I could pinch some of her headlight bleed to "help me see the numbers on the lock". Then, thanks to modern conveniences, managed to order a pizza to the nationals carpark. Some nice people even offered me a beer.

I'll never, ever forget that for the rest of my life and had a sense of 'what it would have been like'. Being 31, all I've ever known is crowds.

Hopefully someone else out there gets to have the same experience as I got to have.

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Craig Monday, 22 Nov 2021 at 1:21pm

That there is the dream!

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brandonrooney14 Monday, 22 Nov 2021 at 1:23pm

I'd actually titled it in my journal as "afternoon of the earth", haha.

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astrothewonderdog Wednesday, 24 Nov 2021 at 10:29am

Glad to see you got to experience Boiling Pot/Nationals without the crowds brandon - I have many memories of surfing until dark at Noosa and one memorable session where we surfed from 3am to dawn on a full moon. One of the best surfs I had at nationals was new years eve in 77 or 78 when it was a pumping 4-6 ft, but about 5pm the whole crowd (about 20 surfers back then) left the water early to get ready for the evenings festivities leaving me alone in the ultimate surfer's fantasy - Nationals almost perfect and no-one else out! One of the great sights in surfing is racing along a seemingly endless Noosa wall at sunset towards Mt Cooroy in the background. I haven't surfed or even visited Noosa at all since about 1988 - it's just too depressing to see what it has become.

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brandonrooney14 Wednesday, 24 Nov 2021 at 10:37am

I would have to agree with you astro – racing those walls at sunset on your own is truly something else. I was riding my little 5'6" Ryan Lovelace keel fish and trying to see how fast I could go. Always a little bit exciting when you're really redlining it on a low-tide wall through nationals and you hear your fins hum (I understand the hydronamics behind this) just a little.

Sunsets from that vantage point are something else and as good, if not better, than anywhere in the world.

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astrothewonderdog Thursday, 25 Nov 2021 at 7:44pm

An awesome sight eh brandon, much better than anything on the Gold Coast. Crescent Head is also beautiful in the late arvo, but without the mountain as a focus point. My other favourite late afternoon surf sight is watching the sun set right on top of the Rottnest Island lighthouse from Trigg or Scarborough in Perth. I mostly used to surf Nationals on a beautiful Spirit of the Sea 6'7' single fin speed board, with pintail and flyers and when it got real big in a cyclone, ie over 8ft, I pulled out the 7'2" Wave Crest stinger swallow tail, a Hawaiian board shaped by Ben Aipa. That board could handle any size Australian conditions can produce. I imagine your fish would be great fun in smaller Noosa waves, especially the hollow section at the end of Nationals/start of Johnson's. I hope you can find more uncrowded sessions on the SC, I am lucky to live in a place north of there (not Agnes) that often has quality empty waves on weekdays. The warm water agrees with these old (63yo) bones- I don't want to ever wear another wetsuit.

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surfing-cronulla Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 4:30pm

Was an interesting and amazing time indeed. Winter '71 was winding down and who'd have thought I'd be staying with Michael and Tommy in Bellbird Apts, Tweed St, Kirra.
Was still dark outside and Mick, he had already checked the points, came in frothing "Quick ... let's go!" as I woke in a daze.
Our boards were already tied on the car and we headed for Snapper. Best banks in a long time according to locals, until Michael spotted the photog setting up. Snapper was bigger and we argued but his car so Kirra it was.
First session as the sun rose the tide was pretty high and breaking close to the rocks. Second session the tide had dropped and we surfed further out off the groyne.
Why the change to my red board shorts? He just glanced down and the penny dropped. Vanity. They were near see through and clingy. Happy to help and the rest is now history. "The Cutback" eventuated and I admit Kirra was good that morning.

billie's picture
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billie Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 5:56pm

Did the photographer scare him away from Snapper and follow him to Kirra?

Good story by the way!

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Jackh Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 9:43pm

Was he best in the water that day ? Any other stand outs ?

surfing-cronulla's picture
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surfing-cronulla Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 12:07am

I heard somewhere years later that Albe Falzon shot 20 minutes of film that morning and just used the 3 minutes of MP. Be interesting to see it if he still has it.
Wasn't crowded and the few that were out were mainly just trying to make the waves, just going for it. Lot hollower and faster than it looks from front on and some classic sections by all. Watching while paddling out there was obviously some amazing surfing going on but that Winter was a blinder on all the points.
Wasn't until the film came out when that realisation hit that it was "that" morning!

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mredhill Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 6:53pm

Manly Silver Screen, 50 years ago? Wow.

Surf Nerd's picture
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Surf Nerd Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 8:35pm

A beautiful Film

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Island Bay Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 6:06am

"One was to develop it as a sport to see who was best. You have to realise that there's a lot of losers in that system - it's a divisive approach to life."

With respect, AF seems to have a madly utopian idea of how people work and are driven. And ironically, his poster boy, MP, was hugely driven to be the best, and didn't give a rats arse about who he had to burn at Kirra.

Working towards a system of equality of outcome has been tried before, and it was always beyond ugly. There are people that excel, and many many more that don't, and somehow magicking surfing into a blissful state of soulfood and waves for everybody is never going to happen. Limited resource, and mankind/life is competitive.

MOTE was a snapshot of a brief period when land was cheap, and surfers were few. That was not going to last, comp surfing or no comp surfing - in fact, it's the wealthy anti-comp nouveau hippies that now make up the numbers.

Finally, I have a (sacrilegious, I know) beef with MOTE as a surf film: Focus is much too tight, so you never get to see the waves properly. When watching it, I find myself almost yelling at the screen, because it feels claustrophobic.

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Spuddups Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 7:40am

I agree. Well said IB.

bbbird's picture
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bbbird Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 1:57pm

The MOTE film is significant to many, as it showed alternative views on living & surfing in Bali & in OZ .
At the time in 1970s; NSW were still logging the last patches of the rainforests; The Oz coastal sanddunes near ports had all been sandmined for heavymetal used in British paint; Asian US wars were a money machine for (Boeing, Ford, GE, Monsanto, IBM,etc) & conscription of youth to the front line war was possible... meanwhile babyboomers were sold the American urban myth by physiologists employed by media.advertising executives; a refined repetitive form of brainwashing.

Excerpt from Frans de Waal's TED Talk demonstrates a basic premise of need vs desire.

"Working towards a system of equality of outcome has been tried before, and it was always beyond ugly." .... I would add..... usually when food & other resources were limited by climate and/or location (or ....brainwashing of the majority in a society. )
2000yr old proverb; Kane (hunter) killed brother Able (farmer) symbolised the two types of tribal systems in early ''civilisation'.
Krakatoa volcano blocking the sun in 535 AD on earth for two years is considered why the viking (hunters) raided UK (farmers) and beyond..... & why some kings & wars developed.


Tim Flannery wrote a thoughtful book on the impacts by South Pacific Island populations & resources called "The Future Eaters". Tim has become Australian of the year and has many useful easily understandable perspectives on co-opertive living, if your mind is open.

PS. A telephoto lens has a limited frame.

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bbbird Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 1:57pm

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Baron von Spatula Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 10:27am
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shae.robertson Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 10:07pm

Regarding way too tight footage IB --- You are spot on --- and I have always thought the tightness of the framing actually gave MOTE something incredibly unique -- Surfing had never been filmed like that before (IMO) and from my knowledge has not been done again -- This was a one off --- Pity no surf journo - inclusive of this IV with AF...has never asked Alby about the tight framing -- Alby -- if you read this can you verify and explain -- I love the movie, music - and the framing uniqueness.....It's amazing and rate it best ever surf movie

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hamishbro Saturday, 20 Nov 2021 at 10:42am

Agreed, but as a perfect representation of a cultural moment, it is unparalleled.

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jacksprat Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 6:23am

Morning of the Earth is the apex on hypocrisy and the high point of the self indulgent hippy era. Read the glossy coffee table book. Wear the t shirt. Ride the MOTE board. Kah chink.

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david de Figueiredo Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 7:29am

Ouch!!!

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Solitude Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 12:14pm

Cynical much?

If you’ve ever heard Albe speak it would be very clear the bloke is not motivated by money, possessions, fame etc.

It’s fairly clear MOTE has grown a life of its own. Probably a symptom of people reminiscing or wishing for simpler times and lives in an exponentially complicated world.

FYI - Simon Jones would be the beneficiary of the boards, not Albe.

Surf Nerd's picture
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Surf Nerd Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 8:17am

Ever considered that your comment might have people questioning the integrity of the person making it . The film is a great contribution and the intent seems full of kindness. I'm sure there has been a lot of work go into restoring the film and film makers have every right to make a small crust like the rest of us. I'm sure there's better examples of Hypocrisy and self indulgence you could draw attention too.

Weatherman's picture
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Weatherman Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 7:06am

That image of the MP cutback is my favorite surfing pic of all time. Such speed, power, flow and style captured in a micro second. I remember cutting up the album cover of the soundtrack back in the seventies so I could put that shot on my wall.

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david de Figueiredo Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 7:35am

Agree Weather man, I'd imitate the cutback hand position over and over while surfing as a grommet! Did you regret cutting up the album cover? I still still have the record on vinyl from childhood!

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Weatherman Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 4:02pm

No regrets about cutting up the album cover, although I wish I still had the photo and album. Lost in the mists of time and many house moves I think. Still have the DVD of the film and CD of soundtrack though. Agree with evosurfs comments about MOTE and the soundtrack.

evosurfer's picture
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evosurfer Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 8:51am

Morning of the Earth without doubt the best surfing movie ever made
with a sound track that was simply brilliant. My older brother took me
to see it at Cronulla Community Hall as we were leaving completely
spellbound I said to him im going to take up surfing became obsessed
with surfing ever since and still am.
Couldnt tell you how many times ive watched it and every time im on
the road as soon as ive cleared the city the sound track is blaring.
Life changing for me.

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Supafreak Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 9:20am

@evodurfer , some classics on the soundtrack, love the song’ open up your heart ‘ . How are you feeling these days evo ? Have your energy levels returned yet ?

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frog Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 10:33am

Nowadays our Morning of the Earth moments are squeezed into surf trips to isolated spots or brief windows where it is pumping and for whatever reason the crowd is thin.

Too many humans and surfers.

Interestingly, my surf diary from 1975 is just hotchpotch of sessions of various quality and crowd levels in amongst weekends and school holidays. The surf media and films fostered lovely dreams of empty perfection - the reality was often different.

The dreamy mindset plus the sense of endless possibilities of youth was, however, a very nice place to be.

My trips to the Ments in older years topped anything but a few sessions from the 70s.

It is still out there. Just harder to find for most.

Hot stuff's picture
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Hot stuff Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 10:54am

The hippys are loaded!!
They love the green.
Dig that Chi, ching.

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velocityjohnno Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 4:27pm

you can't have ching without chi

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Solitude Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 12:16pm

Love the interview FR. I would absolutely love to spend a day or two with AF.
Felt very inspired listening to Albe speak on ‘the water people’ podcast

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Patrick0710 Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 1:21pm

Great interview, thanks!

Small historical pedantry: McMahon decided to withdraw Oz in July 71.

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freeride76 Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 2:05pm

Apologies.
Whitlam ended conscription which I have conflated with withdrawing from Vietnam.

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Patrick0710 Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 5:30pm

Yes, great stories of young men hastily leaving bases across Australia as the election result was announced!

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chook Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 2:15pm

greatest surf film of all time. it will never be surpassed.
MOTe captured Australian surfing culture at its peak.

I have a record of Balinese music called "Music from the morning of the world" (nonesuch records, 1967).
Is there any relation between the record title and Morning of the Earth?

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/06/01/arts/01LEWISTONobit-2-print/0...

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surfing-cronulla Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 4:27pm

@chook Quite possible and there was an Australian pressing floating around the music scene. "Bali Waters" comes to mind and Taman Shud may well have had a copy and Falzon saw it.

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dazzler Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 1:53pm

Bali Waters was my wedding song.

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evosurfer Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 3:30pm

Supafreak energy up to about 85% from the beginning of last week
almost right back to normal now.
All hyped up and ready to go but the surf isnt cooperating fingers
crossed for next week with swellnets surf forecast for some certain
reef action in my area.
Morning of the Earth anybody that says derogatory comments on it
has a really bad attitude towards everything.

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nextswell Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 3:31pm

Always loved the song Simple Ben from the soundtrack. Goes great with the movie. Strips back the bullshit and complexities of life and concentrates on enjoying the natural world around you. In its purist form, exactly what surfing does. Happy bday morning of the earth.

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astrothewonderdog Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 9:48am

Simple Ben was a wonderful song and I can never listen to Open Up Your Heart without imagining perfect 6-8 ft Uluwatu, but my favourite song off the soundtrack was by a little known Sydney singer Terry Hannigan - "I'll be Alright" followed by Brian Cadd's "Sure Feels Good" - I just love the positive spirit evoked by those songs.

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hamishbro Saturday, 20 Nov 2021 at 10:45am

Yep, ‘sure feels good’ totally captures MP’s flair, exuberance and cockiness as Mr Kirra on that day and many others.

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Panman Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 8:00pm

Comparisons to the movie Yesterday
What type of world would it have been without the Beatles?
Same Same with MOTE think about it.

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Spuddups Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 5:32pm

I'd say that The Endless Summer had just as much impact, and certainly a lot more mainstream impact.

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Cockee Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 9:03pm

Love MOTE and all surf films shown at Brighton Town Hall early 80's (Crystal Voyager, Forgotten Island of Santosha, Free Ride, etc).

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evosurfer Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 9:32pm

Just read the article and well in a nutshell hated every word view and
opinion. This Alby guy created something magical in my life and just tore
his own creation to pieces. Does his ego go so full blown that he blames
the growth of surfing for this plants downfall what a jerk you arnt that
creative. So glad Morning of the Earth was now go back to your cave and
keep smoking your dope you cranky bitter old dope.

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SurferSam Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 9:37pm

Changed my life when i first watched it as a 15 year old
43 now and spent my life trying to chase the idyl it proposed ,,,, harder to chase than you would think
Still rings true … nothing better than ocean therapy and keeping it simple especially when your stressed or doin it tough
Still take pleasure in sanding a board mask less simple Ben style ha ha

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Horas Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 11:58pm

Commo Gough did NOT pull Oz out of Vietnam,.It was already underway ,he just took the credit. A better question would be WHY did Whitscum move to block Vietnamese regufees from getting to Australia .This is on the record.Look it up.He actively tried to STOP Vietnamese from getting here. That's the ones who were escaping the commo scum.
Remember, NO ONE tries to get into communist countries but plenty of people put their lives on the line to GET THE FUCK out of commo ville.
Whitlam was a piece of commo filth.

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astrothewonderdog Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 9:53am

Liberal trolls on a surfing site? What next? Gough was the greatest statesman this country has seen, you tory ignoramus. Go join your capitalist pig developer mates and try to find a new Noosa or Byron to destroy.

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wallpaper Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 7:24am

clearly you didn't derive any benefit from his policies on education and culture.

idiot.

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surfing-cronulla Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 2:22pm

@wallpaper Whitlam brought in the N.E.A.T. scheme where unemployed could retrain. You received a training allowance (plus the fees covered) plus the dole. There were 20 training in the new "Computer Technology" and doing well until the Fraser govt cancelled the scheme and many had to drop out and go back to whatever was available, one driving trucks.
Lucked entry to the course after forced redundancy, cancer scare at Abbott Labs, finished course and Honeywell gave me a career in "IT" all thanks to Whitlam. Possibly would have still been labouring without his brilliant idea like the poor buggers with wives and children that couldn't afford to continue the 8 month course thanks to that scumbag Malcolm Fraser.
Like my father I was a Lib voter until this wake-up call on how selfish and uncaring the hard right Libs can be. With a few months to go why not let those on the course finish? Sad those with hopes of developing new skills and opportunities were crushed but I guess "hope" and "self improvement" is a "commie" thing for Horas.

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garry-weed Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 8:13am

I would watch it just for David Treloar at Angourie . I don't think a lot of people realise how great that surfing was at the time. I also don't really understand the negativity on this thread.

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Spuddups Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 11:00am

In the interview Albe comes across as fairly bitter and negative. I reckon it's partly a reaction to that.

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tango Tuesday, 16 Nov 2021 at 9:43pm

Have to agree with Baddy's slot - the best of the film.

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dstrosberg Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 8:21am

All the stuff about left wing vs right wing aside (I’m dead centre myself), the great thing is that waves still behave as they always have, Australia has a massive coastline and if you can find a quiet spot somewhere with a session’s worth of fine waves, it can leave you tripping on a natural high for the next week. I got that down the south coast last week, and that film still evokes that feeling.

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freeride76 Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 11:29am

I don't think any sane person could accuse Albe of hypocrisy.

He's spent the last 40 years walking the walk and regenerating a block of degraded land, living a simple life and leaving the place better than he found it.

He laid down a template in Morning of the Earth and then lived it.

Which makes him perfectly qualified to make the uncontroversial statements that greed and selfishness have exacted a high price on the natural world and how human beings fit into it.
Surfing included.

As for being bitter and negative: I took away exactly the opposite.
Here was a bloke stoked on his film being re-discovered and prepared to share it around for free to anyone interested with an aim of spreading awareness and helping the environment.

Taken as a whole, this is a massive act of generosity not the words of a bitter, negative man. Certainly not someone being driven by ego.

The bigger question is: if we are on the wrong track is there something here which could steer us back towards sanity.

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Spuddups Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 5:18am

Well said Freeride. Given me something to think about. I retract my "negative and bitter" comment.

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Jockhobbs Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 4:28pm

Was there ever a point of sanity? Not much would be different if peeps had a crystal ball back in the day of MOTE. At the heart of it all is population growth and the demand that drives. Resources are scare and simple economic need does the rest.

And what's a better outcome? Subsistence utopia where everyone surfs single films, fishes the fuck out of the sea, listens to average rock and has lots of pubic lice?

No. Put the rose coloured glasses in the compost bin.

Additionally, surfing is still a niche competitive sport. Pro surfing makes a small imprint on the past virtues. As a past time surfing is getting popular due to the changing nature of employment conditions. The services sector can now work from any location and at any time.

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freeride76 Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 4:31pm

Because unrestrained greed and neoliberal values are working out so much better?
For this country, for the planet.

You don't see any value in a pause, a period of reflection about how we might live on this land a little better?

And if so, who better qualified to offer an alternative vision/set of values, one he has road tested for the last 40 years?

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Jockhobbs Tuesday, 16 Nov 2021 at 10:14am

Unrestrained greed and neoliberalism or a system where economic growth is driven by population growth fuelled by government policy, starting with Keating’s deregulation of markets to embrace free market capitalisation and his love affair with Asian immigration? That was the nexus.

So, pausing is not an option as the train just gets faster in either direction, you have to change the direction of the tracks.

Excuse the crap analogies.

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hamishbro Saturday, 20 Nov 2021 at 11:03am

The thing is, it is impossible to make access to the lifestyle that is paraded in that film, accessible for all. Because in doing so you take away the spaciousness of it. The question is, are we prepared to live together in simplicity and share our resources and have less aspirations to find nirvana out in the bush or on a secluded stretch of coast? Because that is just running away. If everyone did that, we’d all be living in isolation. And the wheels would fall off. The world works as it does because people work, they strive, they have shared purpose. They don’t just surf and smoke dope. That’s a dead end. Albe did the wise thing for his time, but times have moved on and now people crave that very thing he has created (his land) as a material possession to be competed over. Now the rich aspire to the hippie dream, albeit a more shiny one. So it was visionary but it has still become something people crave. The more pressing question is, if we all want to make access to our coastlines available for all, do we accept smaller and smaller lots of land, and higher and higher density living? Is there a middle ground where we don’t go full Gold Coast but allow plenty of residential access to our coastlines? Why can’t we have medium density apartments with shared green space? This is where the rubber hits the road. Because as you would have seen in places like Byron, there is often a massive resistance to that from established residents. In other words, for all the preaching about striving for simplicity and community, people who have found “paradise” don’t really want to share.
Not a comment on Albe or his great movie - just a wider point of view.

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topgeer Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 11:33am

Seeing MOTE at the local theatre is still firmly imprinted in my memory from 1973.. I was 19 and decided then that I would go overseas travelling from NZ the next year, to Bali to discover it for myself.
So just before my 20th birthday, in Nov 1973, my mate Jeff and I left for Indo, - via Sydney, KL, Jakarta, train down Java and then onto Bali.
Kuta was still a village, we had a losmen 50 m from Bimo Corner - cost $2 a day for the room and $3 for food.. bimos to NusaDua and Uluwatu were dirt cheap. There were no buildings or huts at either NusaDua or at Uluwatu then.
I still reminisce when I hear the flute soundtrack.

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shae.robertson Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 10:14pm

I have two questions for Alby --- where did the genius idea to film almost all the surfing vison so tight come from?? Was it just an accident due to aquiring a new long lens? AND

The opening long slo motion large right peeling wave -- where was that filmed?

Wonder what the chances are of getting answers??

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lostdoggy Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 10:52pm

Opening is winki in Vic I’m pretty sure I read somewhere a while back.

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shae.robertson Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 10:57pm

awesome reply lostdoggy --- there are a few aging Torquay crew who speculated that it was Winky ....just not 100% CONFIRMED -- talk to us AF!

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astrothewonderdog Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 9:59am

I always thought it looked like Jeffreys Bay in South Africa

lostdoggy's picture
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lostdoggy Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 5:50pm

I think it looks bigger than what JBay holds.
Most people say it’s winki and I reckon I read it in a surf mag way back too, maybe even Albe said it.

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shae.robertson Thursday, 18 Nov 2021 at 9:04am

Can someone reach out to Alby and ask him? It's a really significant and creative opening to the entire movie....IMO....I heard another obscure rumour that it was filmed at Sanur on a very large swell....solve the puzzle.

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Taprobane Friday, 19 Nov 2021 at 7:37pm

I'm sure I read somewhere that it was Alexandra Headland.

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astrothewonderdog Friday, 19 Nov 2021 at 8:22pm

That's interesting. As a born and bred Sunshine Coast surfer I have surfed Alex many times but have never seen it that big or breaking like that. The wave on the SC that best holds that sort of size is Nationals. In my youth in the 70s I surfed it at about 12ft during a cyclone when you had to work past the section that was breaking over the shark nets, I have never seen it break that wide out. Noosa was crowded during good cyclone surf back then, as it is the best wave in Qld during a cyclone as it faces almost true north and the Noosa headland provides protection from the gales. Surfers would travel from the Gold Coast to surf Noosa - I could not imagine it these days.

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ryder Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 9:16am

In this current day trend of filming in 4K/8K/16K digital resolution , when is the next iconic image from a frame-grab going to emerge?

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Jockhobbs Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 3:57pm

Classic. MOTE ends up being a story on NSW real estate prices. It's an unconscious obsession.

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velocityjohnno Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 4:36pm

Love the film, it was a great juxtaposition to where surfing was late 80's/early 90's when I began. Loved the surfing style in it too, can lay down lines like that now as a result. It was a huge influence, took me up to the QLD points and down NSW coast from the WA reefs as a young one. They say MP's boards were prized in SW WA, the narrow pintails held in the power. Introducing my kids to the waves, it was always the nature/power aspect that they most liked.

135 acres for 21K on MNC, where do I sign? Even if 21K was the average wage. Will restore if needed, have experience in family of farming sensibly.

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tango Tuesday, 16 Nov 2021 at 9:53pm

$21k was around 3 times the average wage in '71 of $6500.

A shame that land is now worth north of $3m, which is at least 44 times the average salary of $68k.

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SurferSam Tuesday, 16 Nov 2021 at 7:28pm

The swellians podcast just did a interview with ably. Seems like a lovely genuine fellow as you’d expect. He gave some life philosophy,, 90 % of what he said I thought was spot on , the other 10 % he’s a tripper of the highest order tho ha ha , but he’s still a great dude
Loved the interview
He said his one big regret is seeing Padang reeling off in the distance on the MOTE trip but not walking down to check it out

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ringmaster Tuesday, 16 Nov 2021 at 8:44pm

'he's a tripper of the highest order' ha ha

I LOLed when I read that!

Reckon you might be right........(maybe closer to 20%)

tango's picture
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tango Tuesday, 16 Nov 2021 at 10:13pm

Great article, and I find myself agreeing with much of what AF says.

I think MOTE has so many positives and been the subject of so much hype within surfing circles that it's hard to sit back and look at it in a truly objective way. I'm still not even sure whether its a surfing film highlighting lifestyle or a lifestyle film highlighting surfing.

One thing I do find hard to swallow, though, is the sustainability angle we hear a lot about. I'm seeing the image of Baddy sanding a board in a paddock next to the house and the wind blowing it all away (somewhere sustainable?). I'm seeing a bunch of surfers who, and please do correct me if I'm wrong, living some kind of lifestyle that involves very little work which raises more than an eyebrow for sustainability - are they from old money or on the rock n' roll? They travel to Bali in planes.

I don't dispute AF's commitment to reveg the property and his ethos as outlined in the interview, but for anyone to suggest MOTE is a beacon of sustainability just highlights that they really don't understand the concept. Lesser-impact, perhaps. But not anywhere approaching sustainable.

I'd also add that I'm also unsure about the lasting impact MOTE will have in a cultural sense. It struck a chord with me because I grew up with the whole country soul thing on the NSW far south coast, and it was revered by the local surfers I revered. But just like the current interest in older boards, I wonder whether the reverence for things like MOTE will endure beyond the generations for whom it has some kind of direct or tangible connection. My fear is that the proportion of us who see surfing as a much more holistic thing is decreasing in proportion to the newbies and commercial interests which seem to be making up the bulk of numbers.

But there's no question it's the best surf soundtrack of all time.

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clif Tuesday, 16 Nov 2021 at 10:29pm

There are some lovely people still living this version of surfing in some remote cold water surfing locations. It's a joy meeting them and surfing in their worlds. We still get a taste where I am, but they have shown me how it is still possible if you want it. It's a privilege and I have to say I love visiting them and it's just pure surfing joy (albeit at times bloody tough haha).

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Baron von Spatula Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 10:37am

... Grassy to Crescent in 20 minutes? Albe might actually be astral-travelling !?!

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garry-weed Wednesday, 17 Nov 2021 at 3:37pm

MOTE, while always on my radar seemed to lose relevance for about three decades. People like Andrew Kidman paid respectful tribute to the film and their was even that American film (Shelter?) that seemed a kind of tribute to that ethos. Maybe now that so many people in the lineup are older and less able to keep up with gymnastic surfing we are looking back with a hint of nostalgia for what most of us never had.

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james.owen Thursday, 25 Nov 2021 at 10:05pm

Saw it at Cronulla with my mates. It seemed like a dream, Cronulla Point was already often at the stupendously crowded level. What stuck with me was G Wayne Thomas’ “No formula for happiness “.
Ended up living in Coolum and had many MOTE moments. Amazing times.