Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bodhi and Point Break

August 18 is the birthday of the late Patrick Swayze, born this date in 1952.

Twenty years ago, as my class was just graduating from West Point, the movie Point Break hit theaters in the United States, starring Swayze in the role of Bodhi.

Having spent almost every free moment in the previous three-plus years skydiving in California, New York, Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona, and having started to surf before I'd learned to skydive, the release of Point Break made a big impression on me in 1991.

Whatever its flaws (does it actually have any flaws?), the movie was probably the most successful fictional depiction of surfing ever made, and took a completely different direction from what had been portrayed on film before. Swayze's portrayal of Bodhi was masterful and broke the mold of Hollywood's typical depiction of surfers. He also did many of his own skydiving scenes and went to the island of Kauai to learn to surf prior to the making of the movie.

While it is still only August 17 here in the US, it is already August 18 in Australia, where the final scene of the movie is supposed to take place, at Bell's Beach (the scene was actually filmed in Oregon), and since surfers there might want to pause to appreciate Swayze's contribution to surf culture as well, this post will go live on Australia's August 18.