In John Severson’s Encyclopedia of Surfing entry, surf historian Matt Warshaw calls Severson’s 1970 film Pacific Vibrations “Beautiful but overly serious.”
As surfers in the film get philosophical, summarizing their surfing experiences as “kinda like a really heavy stone,” or “surfing is freedom” and a non sequitur description of the tube as being “the heaviest thing on Earth,” among other flowery or heady descriptions, Warshaw’s critique seems valid.
Cheesy or cliche aside, the surfers are still relatable. It’s hard not sounding like a cliched weirdo when describing your surf experience to someone. There’s probably not a frothed out grom in the world whose parents haven’t used surfing privileges as a threat to raise a GPA. Surely every surfer alive has experienced freedom while surfing. Overly serious? Sure. Accurate? Definitely.
As far as the surfing goes, the limitations of the pintail single fin, the standard issue board of the time, is apparent. With the loss of drive through hard turns obvious, the path to more fins and down-rails as part of design theory seems well laid-out.
If you're into surf royalty, you'll love this part. It features multiple Mt. Rushmore's full of surf icons. Jack Sutherland, Bill Hamilton, Rolf Aurness, David Nuuhiwa, Merv Larson, Jef Hakman, Mike Tabeling, Cirky Carroll, Rick Griffin, Angie Reno, Brad McCual, Mickey Dora, Chuck Dent, Steve Bigler, Greg Noll, Dale Velzy, Dewey Weber and Mike Purpus all make appearances.
Surf film gold right here.