Pat O'Connell reflects on the legacy of the creator of 'The Endless Summer'.
Like most surfers I was saddened to hear of Bruce Brown’s passing. In the late 60s, Brown’s surfing odyssey, ‘The Endless Summer’, prompted a generation of surfers to abandon more predictable life-plans and follow the scent of salt air.
The film was famous for its compelling imagery and appeal to every surfer’s innate sense of wanderlust, but it was also Bruce’s distinctive narrative style, which helped it resonate for decades to come. Thirty years later, adopting a similarly carefree tone, Bruce connected with a whole new generation of surfers through the Endless Summer II.
As it happened I paddled out in the surf this morning, on the Nth Shore of Oahu, and ran into Pat O’Connell, who featured in ‘The Endless Summer II’ alongside Robert ‘Wingnut’ Weaver. Reflecting on his old friend, who was famous for his shoot from the hip approach and dry wit, Pat chuckled and stated, “There are so many good stories about Bruce.” Pat then thoughtfully summed up his perspective on Bruce’s legacy. “I think his films really captured and innocence and fun in surfing that can sometimes get lost in the modern era.”
A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to speak with Bruce and his son, Dana. Bruce had just released a limited edition book-set in honour of the 50-year anniversary of the original ‘Endless Summer’. You can read a transcript of what may be Bruce’s last, long-form interview is here. A version also appears in the current issue of Tracks.