Bustin’ Down the Door


The title of director Jeremy Gosch’s engaging, elegantly made surf documentary describes the oftentimes brash methods employed by a pack of scrappy foreigners—Australians Ian Cairns, Mark Richards, Peter Townend, and Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, plus South Africans Shaun and Michael Tomson—to make names for themselves at a time (the 1970s) when surfing was still more of a local (i.e., Hawaiian) pastime than a global professional sport. And get noticed they did, shredding every wave they could, from perfectly formed Pipeline barrels to gnarlier-than-thou Waimea Bay closeouts, effectively creating the look and ethos of modern pro surfing in their wake. Occasionally, the sextet’s daredevil brio got the better of them—and earned the ire of more than a few North Shore locals—but it’s humility and gratitude that characterize these wave-riding éminences grises today as they look back on their youthful selves (via some spectacular Super-8 and 16mm archival footage) and marvel at the evolution of the surf lifestyle into a multibillion-dollar industry. Although it can’t help hitting some familiar beats—chiefly the tension between surfing’s “pure” roots and its nascent commercialization—Bustin’ Down the Door always favors the personal anecdote over the historical generalization, and, more than any movie of its kind since Dana Brown’s 2003 Step Into Liquid, will leave surf junkies and novices alike longing to get their feet wet.