Thursday, August 20, 2020

A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story

"A life well-lived goes on and on."

If ever a documentary filled me with hope and broke my heart at the same time, it's this one. A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story is a poignant film about a visionary filmmaker who followed the beat of his own drum and inspired generations of others to do the same. It's also about the heroes in his life, fellow visionaries, inventors, athletes and filmmakers who weren't afraid to pursue their dreams and while doing so made their mark.

"Get your ass off the couch and go have an adventure... make the most of our limited time here. And most of all, have fun and be good, the best good you can." — Bruce Brown

Bruce Brown made waves with the seminal The Endless Summer (1966), a surfing documentary that followed two professional surfers as they traveled the world in search of the best beaches while chasing the warm weather and sunshine. "An endless summer" has become synonymous with pursuing your dreams and living the best quality life you can. The film elevated surfing as a sport and inspired countless athletes. It also motivated others, who had no intention of hanging ten, to shape their own destinies and not settle for the status quo. Brown went on to make another important sport documentary, On Any Sunday (1971), which followed motorcycle racers and enthusiasts, including Steve McQueen. It was nominated for an Academy Award. Brown retired from filmmaking only to revive his career by making The Endless Summer 2 (1994) with his son Dana Brown. 

Bruce Brown spent the years after the 2006 death of his wife Patricia in relative isolation. He preferred to spend time at his home with his beloved dog Rusty. In 2014, his children encouraged Bruce to go on a road trip to visit the important figures who helped mold his life. Bruce agreed... as long as he could bring Rusty. Directed by Dana Brown A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story follows Bruce Brown on this road trip. Along the way we learn about him as a filmmaker, father, husband and friend. During their travels, Brown meets up with his old friends including surfer and inventor Hobie Alter, friend and founder of Clark Foam Grubby Clark, motorcyclist from On Any Sunday Mert Lawwill, surfer and inventor of the neoprene wetsuit Jack O'Neill and others.

"If you're willing to take a leap of faith, get off your butt. Who knows how many great things in the world are out there?"
A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown is a beautiful tribute to a filmmaker who paved the way for many who followed. I was particularly moved by the message of the documentary that life is fleeting, do what makes you happy.

Bruce Brown passed away in 2017 but his legacy lives on. I had the pleasure of meeting Bruce Brown at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival. He was one of the only guests who asked to meet with fans after a special event. Attendees were treated to the 50th anniversary screening of The Endless Summer and I had a brief chat with Bruce. He was warm, friendly and down to earth. I told him I thought The Endless Summer was a wonderful film. He joked "it's old!" God speed Bruce Brown.

A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story is available on digital and on demand platforms including Amazon Prime and iTunes.

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