By Ponder, Scott Bass & Troy Page
(film & book)
Extraordinary, compassionate, and compelling documentary on the subject of surfing during the Vietnam war years, told through the stories of two surfers: Pat Farley, who served, and Brant Page, who ran. Ultimately, Between the Lines is beautifully balanced; it doesn’t take sides as it follows these two men on their disparate journeys.
Drawn to the war out of a mix of patriotic duty and attraction to a rite of passage, Farley arrives in Vietnam and is quickly plunged into a state of abject fear. Next, he numbs, and then he becomes an adrenaline junkie. “I went from one extreme – shell-shocked – to the other,” he says. At one point, Farley was ordered to kill a camp dog that had taken ill. “Killing that dog was pretty heavy,” he tells us, choking back emotion. “Killing gooks, no sweat – loved it, enjoyed it! But the dog … victim of war …” Farley came home alive but has been on a full psychiatric pension since.
Meanwhile, Page evaded the draft, fled to Hawaii and went native on the Big Island, mainly, changing his address month after month to stay ahead of the draft letters, unwilling to serve in a war he didn’t believe in, not willing to be just one more body. Finally caught by the FBI, he managed to fail his pre-induction physical.
The subtitle of this film, ‘the true story of surfers and the Vietnam war’, does not lie. Narrated by John Milius (director of Big Wednesday and co-writer of Apocalypse Now!), with its great mix of interviews with surfers (veterans and evaders) and rare footage of the war years (including surfing in Vietnam and Hawaii), Between the Lines is an important work that fills a void in our shared experience of yet another time of division in America and the world.
A companion book is beautifully designed and filled with rare photos and powerful testimony on the film’s themes – a great work on its own. Go to betweenthelinesfilm.com for the full scoop. Congratulations to the team for chronicling this vital era in 20th century history and surfing!