Editor’s note: Just last week, The Atlantic monthly ran an article online connecting Thomas Edison (yes, that Thomas Edison) to the origins of surf filmmaking. The centerpiece of said article was a tale of how Robert Bonine, a filmmaker from Edison’s production company, traveled to Hawaii in the early 1900s and, among other things, captured locals surfing the gentle waves of Waikiki. As it happens, this isn’t by any means a groundbreaking discovery, but interesting nonetheless that a mainstream publication like The Atlantic would produce a story on it. For additional commentary, we reached out to the acclaimed Matt Warshaw. His response, in its entirety, below. Also, check out the full article in The Atlantic (it’s worth a read!).
I remixed that footage last year, for the Encyclopedia of Surfing Waikiki page (see below).
What I can’t take my eyes off of here is the way white people dressed on the beach. All those weeks on a steamer, then you arrive in paradise, check into your hotel, hit the beach, and you’re still strapped into a woolen three-piece suit, bow-tie, and hard leather shoes? Did the locals ever get tired of laughing at us?