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Surf Video Reviews

Strange Rumblings In Shangri La – Review

It’s been a while since there’s been a new surf video at the shop that I’ve been excited to purchase.  Globe’s Secret Machine is one of my favorite videos of all time, and when I saw the trailer for Strange Rumblings In Shangri La a few weeks ago I knew that I had to own it.  Directed by Joe G and backed by Globe, it’s a romp around the world that looks like it could have been filmed by Wes Anderson and produced by Jacques Cousteau.  The cinematography is breathtaking, the surfing impeccable.  The surfing cast is packed with talent and it’s nice to see a few familiar faces like Taj Burrow and CJ Hobgood.

The premise of Strange Rumblings is a classic search for nirvana/the perfect wave/the endless summer.  We’ve seen this plot before, but let’s face it; surfers don’t buy videos for story.  The crew is looking for a fabled place called Shangri La, and along the way they receive hints and clues as to their next destination from various travelers and locals, like viking princesses and girls sitting on kneeling elephants.  It’s filmed and narrated in the style of Wes Anderson, and although this style has “been done” I found it was tongue in cheek enough and didn’t take itself too seriously.

strangerumblings2The video was shot on a mix of Kodak film and RED cameras.   The integration is seamless, but you can definitely tell when the soft focus of the 16 mm comes on screen – and it’s beautiful.  There were some breathtaking shots in this video – from the icebergs of Iceland to the saturated-to-hell blues of Sumbawa.  There were definitely a few jaw-droppers when they cut over to different scenes.  The camera work was excellent and some of the clips they got were breathtaking.  One of my favorite shots was a surfer riding away in a barrel at Greenbush shot from underwater…yes we’ve seen it before but somehow they got it just right.  Film is a dying medium, and I am always overjoyed when a surf movie is shot in 16mm.  They also didn’t overuse slow motion – they sprinkled it in just enough and synched it nicely with the music.

The soundtrack is good.  I was hoping for a bit more from the music, but I think I’ve been spoiled by Modern Collective and Secret Machine (remember Arcade Fire playing alongside epic Cloudbreak?  After that I was ruined).  But this one was almost up there.  Music is very subjective anyway.

The only bad things I can say about this flick is that there’s a few too many airs (a common plague these days in surf videos—don’t get me wrong I like airs, but one after another after another gets a bit mind-numbing), and the slight objectification of women will rub some people the wrong way.  I don’t think Globe has any female surfers on their team, but they should add a few.  I always say this about surf videos but adding one female surfer won’t take away anything, and will make SO MANY people happy.  But I digress.

Anyway, if you can grab this I would HIGHLY recommend owning this video on Blu Ray because the image quality is amazing.  However, you can download it on Itunes as well.  And as always, don’t pirate – if it’s something you really enjoy buy the dang thing and support the filmmakers.


Hayley Gordon

Hayley Gordon has been surfing for over 20 years. Riding both shortboards and longboards, she's traveled the world to surf but mainly sticks to her two home locations of San Diego and Long Island.
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