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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Searching for Michael Peterson

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October 30, 2009

Movie Review Friday: Searching for Michael Peterson

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Searching for Michael Peterson (2009)
Available on DVD

This surfing documentary plunges below the surface to find out what happened to 1970s legend Michael Peterson, whose incredible talent and supreme confidence in the water was rivaled only by his extreme shyness on dry land. Director Jolyon Hoff takes us back almost four decades, when Australia was in the midst of turmoil much like that in the United States. What with Vietnam War protests, drugs, and a back-to-the-land movement, surfing was an outsider sport that drew those searching for a simper life.

Things didn’t turn out the way the everyone had hoped, though. Despite the spirit of the time, consumerism continued and surfing turned mainstream. Michael Peterson, it turns out, was schizophrenic, and his condition might well serve as a metaphor for the era.

This film will be of most interest to those passionate about surfing and its history. But it'll also draw in viewers who are interested in counterculture, the ocean, and mental illness. The environmental themes are subtle, but it's hard to resist the call of the crashing ocean.

--Kyle Boelte

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