Monday, March 7, 2011

Walking on Water

Walking on Water is a new DVD release that will have surfers standing up and applauding. It is unusual in that it is a faith based film that has received praise from various sectors of the surfing community. The unique concept of the film has surfer Bryan Jennings, the founder of an organization Walking on Water, and the director of the film replicating a favor that was done for him when he was 14 years of age. Identify two youths who love surfing, and take them on a journey around the world to enjoy some of the best surfing sites on the planet. Walking on Water is a fun filled documentary adventure that has the two youths, Tyler Hallen and Luke Davis touring the world, and ultimately learning about the importance of serving others, and ultimately, faith. Along the journey they come across numerous world class and widely recognized surfers including, Al Merrick, Garrett Mcnamara, Cheyne Cottrell, C.J. Hobgood, Noah Snyder, C.T. Taylor, Damien Hobgood, Matt Beacham, Tom Curren, Jesse Hines, and Bethany Hamilton.

Even if one is not a fan of the sport of surfing, this DVD is a feast for the eyes. As a landlocked, water lover, (living in Kansas), the visuals of this movie had me coveting living near the water again. The athleticism is spectacular and the camera work to capture it is nothing short of outstanding. There is little doubt; the athletes we see on screen are in fact, world class. One of the really nice attributes about this film is that while it is a documentary if flows in a narrative form, keeping the interest of the viewer. The direction is outstanding and the story flows very nicely. There is a wonderful soundtrack and the viewer finds themselves drawn into the story, even the spiritual concepts which one may not be a part of. While the spirituality is real, it is presented in a respectful way that will not offend others, yet get it’s own point across, thus being entertaining to the non Christian, while also being challenging to the Christian to do more with their faith in regards to doing more.

As we see the young men, Tyler and Luke on their journey around the world we also see them start to care about those around them whom they come into contact with. We also see them learning from the more mature individuals who choose to be around them who love the sport and have excelled just as they desire to. We don’t see a lot regarding their personal belief systems but that is okay because they are young men yet developing their views. We do see enough growth to appreciate what they are going through. Jennings in his direction is wise to let us see a progression of these two young men, while at the same time, reminding us that they are young men. As a part of the journey, we also see them start to develop their worldview and the reality that a part of the faith they ultimately experience, is in based on relationship and service as opposed to sermons and judgment.

In many ways, Walking on Water is a spiritual journey that draws on the spiritual side of humanity, not just limited to the West but also recognizing the need of those around the world, especially the less fortunate. It is in the serving of the less fortunate the characters and viewers draw appreciation for the spiritual journey the characters are on. In many ways, the viewer may find themselves thinking about the concept of Jesus walking on the water. If thinking about the power that exists within each person, the viewer may see the possibility of themselves, in a figurative way, also walking on water. The allegory of doing the impossible is portrayed here in a positive, strong way through the medium of surfing, the perfect allegory for each of us, whether we surf or not, regarding walking on water.

I don’t know why I found myself liking this movie so much. It had far more religious overtones than I normally review, and it didn’t skimp on the message presented. I found myself thinking that everyone could get something out of Walking on Water, whether religious, spiritual, Christian or not. I especially loved the motivational section of the film featuring Bethany Hamilton, the young world class surfer who was attacked by a shark and lost her arm, only to relearn to surf with one arm and come back with a vengeance, becoming once again, a world class surfer. Her willingness to not give up on the thing she loved, plus her desire to help motivate and inspire others was inspirational. It is powerful enough that a movie on her life has also been made. Despite being rooted in faith principals, specific to Christianity, this story is told in a nonthreatening, yet non compromising way. The viewer will be challenged to do more and to contemplate the religious faith and spiritual perspectives presented. I can’t help but think this movie will reach many in the surfing community with the message of Christianity. I also expect that is a part of the intent.

For those who love surfing, this is a must own movie. For those not into the sport, it is definitely a worthwhile view, but a rental may be your first choice. There is a wonderful set of special features involved in the film worth watching. While I have never surfed, I would like to try it as I love the water and it is one of those things I have always wanted to try. It is a movie though that whether I surf or not, I have been challenged to find my own ways that I can walk on water. I suspect it will do the same for you.

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