Film Review: ‘Morning of the Earth’ is still one of the greatest!
The 50th anniversary release of Alby Falzon’s ‘Morning of the Earth’, remastered in 4K quality has only solidified the films position as one of the greatest and most influential surf films of all time, if not the greatest. Released in 1972 ‘Morning of the Earth’ explores the moments prior to the changing of the guard in surfing history, where it moved from a more rebellious, counter culture activity, into a recognised, professional sport. The film however sticks to the core themes of surfing as an expression of the individual, providing intrinsic values, outside of recognised fame, accomplishment and monetary wealth. The main themes of the film and its view of surfing’s value have only solidified in the release of the newly restored version, creating an even clearer narrative, outside the picture itself.
Cover Photo: ‘The Cutback’ by Michael Peterson at Kirra. Credit: Morning of the Earth.
The film also marked the birth of a new breed of surfer, who disposed of the traditional longboard, for the more vogue, manoeuverble shortboard. This new breed of surfer is visible through the timeless surfing of Australian legends like Terry Fitzgerald, Baddy Treloar, Nat Young, Michael Peterson, Chris Brock and Stephen Cooney, who was 15 during the shooting of the film. Throughout the first scenes of the film, these new age Australian surfers, enjoy the nirvana of riding some of Australia’s most popular and perfect waves, including Lennox Head, Angourie and Kirra before they were inundated with urbanisation, crowds and ego. The following scenes explore the untouched paradise of Bali in the early 70’s, which saw empty line-ups, mainly Uluwatu grace the screen for the first time. These scenes highlight the almost uselessness of competitive surfing, by unintentionally promoting the essence and goal of what one is trying to achieve by surfing. Likewise in the final scenes, we glimpse a view at the pure, relaxed tropical landscape, but heavy waves of Hawaii, featuring Australian, American and Hawaii’s finest surfers, including Barry Kanaiaupuni, Eddie Aikau and Mr. Pipeline, Gerry Lopez. Director Alby Falzon explained that on this trip there was one morning where he was sitting on the beach at perfect, 10 foot Pipeline, with not one other person around both on the sand and in the water. Long gone are those days.
One of the first sessions at Uluwatu, with Stephen Cooney and Chris Brock. Credit: Morning of the Earth
Outside from the surfing, the seemingly effortlessness of the way the film is put together by Falzon, beautifully accommodates for the values of surf culture and lifestyle on display. Unlike many modern surf films, this classic tells a true, real story, without forcing it. This is further crystalised in the release of the 50th Anniversary, 4K version, in which the timeless audio and soundtrack has also been remastered by no other then the sound engineer who worked on Quentin Tarantino’s last film, who reached out of interest and passion to see if he could assist on the new project. Many of these details can be listened to in an interview with the charismatic and wise Falzon on the Ain’t that Swell podcast, including the release of 90 minutes of once lost footage, that has also been made into a new film. We of course also recommend you to watch the full length, remastered film as well! Links to all are below.