As you file listlessly from the train platform to the fluorescent-lit office cubicle to your too-expensive flat, it’s easy to daydream of a more adventurous, impulsive life. It’s this longing that powers The Search For Freedom, an exhilarating and inspiring documentary from Jon Long, featuring the cream of action sports.
Released on DVD and on demand on August 10, The Search For Freedom takes the Ronseal approach to documentary filmmaking, exploring the ‘because it’s there’ mentality of action sports enthusiasts. Superbly shot and edited, it’s like the GoPro Instagram feed writ large, bombarding the eyes with vertigo-inducing climbs, high-speed powder carving and tube-riding through unfathomably blue waves.
A testament to adventure and fearlessness, it’s a loosely sketched together piece, combining clips, dramatic montages and several interviews about the vague idea of ‘experience’. With testimony from, among others, climber Ron Kauk, windsurfer Robby Nash, snowboarder Jeremy Jones, skaters Danny Way and Tony Hawk, paddle-boarding champ Kai Lenny and legendary surfer Kelly Slater, this is a story that initially seems grounded in the growth of action sports but eventually reveals itself to be more concerned with ‘living in the moment’, even if you’re defying death in that pursuit.
The rather nebulous theme of freedom and imagination means Long’s able to deploy a variety of interview subjects and footage, meaning the film never feels repetitive. It also, unfortunately, just bounces merrily along, only really grabbing you infrequently. Though the magnificent cinematography and regularly astonishing action merits IMAX viewing, there’s a nagging sense that this a feature-length, more expertly made version of the adventure sports montage videos you’ll notice playing silently in surf and skate shops across the world.
But with so much bravery and belief on display, and a range of footage that veers from frightening to guiltily hilarious to awe-inspiring, it’s a film that will stir a sense of adventure among even the dullest of viewers.
As we meet an ER doctor who base jumps in his spare time, or witness an incredible ski jump off the Eiger or barrel along a pulsating wave, you’ll feel an urge to pack it all in, and move to the beach or the mountains for a new, more free life. There’s no way the latest superhero reboot is going to change your life the way The Search for Freedom will.
The Search for Freedom is available to own on DVD and Blu-ray now.