Sense of Cinema: Annotations on Film

Sense of Cinema: Annotations on Film

Morning of the Earth: A Surf Movie Classic

The surf movie genre has its roots in the mid-1960s when surfing as a sport and lifestyle spread through coastal communities around the beaches of Hawaii, California and the eastern coast of Australia. The early surf movies found an audience in young surfers who would gather in coastal town church halls and local community function rooms across the nation to watch their surfing heroes do their stuff on the “big” screen. At these events, spontaneous outbursts of hooting and hollering filled the various auditoria with euphoria and delirious abandonment.

By the early 1970s Australian youth was stretching its wings and “evolution” was everywhere – politically, socially, sexually, and within surf culture. In surfing a raw energy was seen, a dynamic movement that completely broke the mould of “fat ass”, “cuppa-tea” traditional board-riding. This transformative moment became known as the short board evolution – new, lighter, more manoeuvrable surfboards that were used to much greater effect. These boards allowed top-to-bottom mobility; they got surfers deeper into the aqua tube and allowed steeper take-offs and tighter, more extreme and dynamic turns on the waves.

Shot in 1971, Morning of the Earth reveals the pioneering spirit of a new breed of Australian surfer who took the short board to an innovative and radical new level. Nat Young, Chris Brock, Baddy Treloar, Michael Peterson and Terry Fitzgerald defined their generation as this particular sport’s elite – young men who lived for nothing else but surfing, dedicated, sea-riding knights. This group, a beautiful-looking, calm-natured generation of surfers, were totally tuned into their natural environment with an almost pastoral, idyllic zeal: contemplative, relaxed and peaceful. Within this sub-cultural strand, there was an emphasis on personal freedom, nomadic “questing”, a romantic connection to the elements, and hedonism. Alby Falzon’s film explores these surfers in their natural, “back to the earth”, soulful world. They possessed all the skills to dominate the sport internationally but would rather “soul-surf”, devotees of a calming, communal lifestyle...

Click here to read the full review by Arthur O'Bryan at