Mysto and Mellow
The two years Bill Ballard spent filming The Mystic have paid off in a tremendous way. Put simply, it’s beautiful. Imagine watching the best photographs in your
Overall Grade: 5 / 5
Surfing: 4.5 / 5
favorite surf mag brought to life and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this film is all about. It’s an example of surfing and cinematography at its very best.
The vibe of The Mystic is very, very mellow. The dream-like surf shots are combined with an original soundtrack (packaged with the DVD) into a trance-inducing blend of color and sound. I never knew that watching someone race out a 15 second Indonesian barrel could very nearly be relaxing until I saw The Mystic. Somehow, it all works.
The surfing here is very, very good. Two years spent filming assures that Ballard had a huge selection of rides and waves to choose from, so the quality is top-notch. I appreciated how the surfing wasn’t overly showy—just quality rides, sick cutbacks, and turns that make you want to grab your board and head to the beach immediately. The amazing barrel sequences will have you picking your jaw off the floor on multiple occasions. One great thing: I loved how Ballard opens this film with a wipeout.
The waves in The Mystic are excellent. The Indonesia section stands out the most, as well as the rarely seen cold water waves in Chile. The opening Pipeline section had my non-surfing friends freaking out.
Cinematography / Editing
The Mystic is shot entirely on film (16mm, super 16mm, and 35mm), and it makes a huge difference in the representation of the environment. You’ll probably hear me say this a lot, but water photography is just not the same when shot on video. You really need film to showcase surfing at its greatest. Almost a third of the film is comprised of in-water photography, with down-the-barrel shots and in-your-face cutbacks galore.
The DVD transfer is crisp, although I thought the colors seemed slightly muddy. There were some awkward cuts, but overall I thought the editing was top notch. Not too quick, and the slow motion shots were expertly done.
The soundtrack, as stated before, is mostly down-tempo trance type songs. It gets a little repetitive after a while, but in all honesty it pulls the film together and offers something fresh in a genre teeming with punk song-filled copycats. The best part about this soundtrack is that it doesn’t overshadow the video, instead enhancing the utter beauty of the imagery.
The extra bonus footage offered is excellent. I found myself mesmerized by the Pipeline/Backdoor section. There’s almost a party-like atmosphere, and you feel like you’re on the beach hooting and hollering. There’s also more Indonesian barrels than you can shake a stick at. I would’ve loved some director/surfer commentary though.
Why are you still sitting there? See this vid! I Netflixed this one, but I’m going to buy it as soon as I can get a copy.