Top 11 Adventure Films

14 Nov

Mile… Mile & A Half was in the top 10 Documentaries on iTunes for a few weeks and even made it to #5. PLaying the numbers game, Jason thought he’d give a shot at picking his Top 11 Adventure Films (besides MMAAH of course.)


We are lucky that there have been so many brave talented people who have documented either their own adventure or the adventures of others. It was really hard for me to choose only 11, and I initially wanted to make it only 10, but I couldn’t in my right name scratch off any of these. Here goes in no particular oder.


1) South (1920)

This is the original film produced by the Shackleton expedition with Frank Hurly’s amazing photography. There is one really hard scene to watch where they harpoon an Orca to save a baby seal, but other than that it’s neat to watch an over 90 year old adventure film. There’s is also of course the great “The Endurance” based on the wonderful erudite book by Caroline Alexander which documents that unbelievable tale of survival. Makes for a good double feature when it’s over a hundred degrees outside.


2) Kon Tiki (1950)

I’m really excited for the narrative version of Thor Heyerdahl’s amazing journey across the pacific. The trailers look amazing! I remember my imagination running wild after seeing the original as a kid. If you’re planning on seeing the new one, it’s worth watching the original first.


3) Everest (Imax 1998)

Believe me it wasn’t easy lugging our camera an audio gear along the JMT, but to lug film and bulky Imax cameras up Everest is so much more impressive. It’s visually stunning! There’s also the really emotional and tragic story of the events that happened that year which were detailed in John Krakauer’s “Into This Air.”


4) The Long Way Round  (2004)

You might have missed this mini-series if you blinked even if it did have Ewan McGregor in it. It documents his and his best friend Charley Boormans’ motorcycle journey around the world. I’m not much for motorcycling, but the camaraderie and hijinks make you feel like you’re on a journey with them. Reminds me a lot of what it’s like to do a long backpacking trip with friends. They did a follow up called the Long Way Down which was a lot of fun too.


5) Michael Palin’s Around The World In 80 Days (1989)

I’m such a huge Monty Python fan, and this along with his other travel shows that he’s done along the way are so much fun to watch. This was his first and you’d be surprised at how hard it is to get around the world quickly without flying on an airplane these days.


6) 180 Degrees South

This is a really great film made by the Malloys. They manage to capture everything from sailing to surfing to climbing with some nice messages about protecting the earth in there as well. Pretty cool to hear about what Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins are doing down in Patagonia too.


7) anything by Jaques-Yves Cousteau

If I’m being honest I’m way overdue for a Cousteau Retrospective, especially now that I’m a certified diver!


8) Alone In The Wilderness (2004)

I caught this randomly on PBS years ago, and had to buy the DVD. It’s about Dick Proenneke, who decided to move up to Alaska and live off the land by himself. This guy is so Bad Ass! Watching him build his cabin and create different things out of wood is fascinating. Lucky for us he filmed a lot of his experiences.


9) The Endless Summer (1966)

This is another venerable classic of the adventure film genre. Bruce Brown’s celebration of the great people and places that you encounter when traveling has inspired generations of adventure filmmakers. One of them is my friend Jason Baffa who made a great surf film in that tradition titled “Single Fin Yellow” which is worth checking out along with his other films. (Sorry to sneak so many extra things into a top 11 list, but it’s really hard to make decisions.)


10) Alby Mangels World Safari (1977)

Watching Alby and the crazy cast of beautiful women and interesting characters travel around the world is so much fun. Really fuels the wanderlust fire. I first saw these when they ran on the Travel Chanel years ago.


Riding Giants (2004)

I had a couple of Powell Peralta skateboards when I was a kid. Stacy Peralta has managed to make the move from world class skateboarder to world class filmmaker, and he’s made several great ones including “Dogtown and Z Boys,” but this is my favorite of his. The history of big wave surfing is so fascinating, and he really put together a great film about it.


What adventure helps you best transcend the sofa in your living room? Most of these are either streaming or on DVD, so I hope you take the time to watch any of the ones you’ve missed. Don’t hate me for leaving out your favorite, because I probably did enjoy it as a big fan of the adventure film medium. Let us know what your favorites are.