When you hear the name Robby Naish, you automatically think of surfing. Like no one other, he embodies the sport that inspires and fascinates millions around the world. We inextricably link the rise of water sports with Naish too. For decades he has proudly served his sport as an ambassador and a role model and, finally, he is receiving the appreciation he deserves. A 56-year-old athlete has become a windsurfing world champion countless times due to his extraordinary ability. His skills also contributed to paving the way of sports such as kiteboarding and stand-up paddling.
This story calls for the big screen. Logically, director Joe Berlinger is now bringing the life and career of Robby Naish closer to the audience of the silver screen. The documentary The Longest Wave, for which Berlinger followed the surfer around the world with a camera, is entirely dedicated to the life of Robby Naish. Numerous previous films of this director have received praise in the past. His documentary about the band Metallica attracted worldwide attention as did his Oscar-nominated film Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.
The View from Outside
Because Berlinger is not a surfer himself, he brings an outsider’s perspective into the film. This way The Longest Wave became a very personal story and not just a movie. It is about ambition, devotion, and self-conquest, the characteristics that created the legend, Robby Naish. The film premiered this summer. Berlinger impressively shows the strengths that have made Naish a superstar and reveals his weaknesses at the same time. The director admitted that he found the filming process to be very intense.
An Intense Experience
There is no question about that, because intense experiences marked the surfer’s life at that time. Naish suffered a severe injury while trying to tame a giant wave and that broken hip could have been fatal. At the same time, he struggled with business turmoil and had to deal with a difficult divorce. The director created a good mix of appealing action scenes and intimate insights into the athlete’s life. Although Robby Naish has achieved everything in his life, he is still searching for his limits. He wants to push his body and mind to the extremes, which is exactly the motivation to keep going.
The filming began in 2014. It had to be interrupted several times as either Naish was injured, or Berlinger needed to do other projects in between. The collaboration is fantastic though; the director had nothing to do with the surfing scene, so the two also found no connection to each other when they met for the first time. But that way, Berlinger could reveal a new perspective on sport and its athletes. At the same time, he treated Naish with respect that he received from other surfers as well. Berlinger succeeded in creating an atmosphere in which everyone involved forgot the cameras. In the end, the two of them left us with a film everyone should see.