“Hawaiian:The Legend of Eddie Aikau” is an exhilarating documentary sheds that light on the extraordinary life and legacy of legendary Hawaiian big-wave surfer Eddie Aikau (pronounced “eye-KOW”). Like many, I had never heard of Eddie Aikau nor what made him a legend, so everything in this film was new to me. I found myself being pulled into the story about Eddie and the personal anecdotes told by his sisters and brothers. It was heartwarming to learn that he was a man whose love for his family and other people was part of what made him into a legend for those who shared his love for surfing and the Hawaiian Islands. This is about a decent and wholesome person of a type that comes around rarely in this age of cynicism and narcissistic self-aggrandizement. He is a hero somewhat like the “cowboy” type. He deserved the honors and accolades he achieved in his lifetime. I was moved to tears more than once by this man’s story — his love of family and culture and his innate drive to protect all. The film shows incredible older footage of the days back when no surfer would even think about surfing Waimea’s enormous waves on the north shore of Oahu. As well as learning about Eddie Aikau, it was interesting to learn a little bit about the history of the statehood of Hawaii. Poignant and inspiring, this documentary also presents a clear and honest depiction of the colonization and takeover of Hawaii. It’s amazing that we Americans are raised without ever being taught about the oppression that befell the native Hawaiians, beginning with the first invaders welcomed with the spirit of “aloha” and on through the military coup that removed the legitimate Hawaiian Monarchy and ended Hawaii’s sovereignty as a nation — and the ensuing theft of land and culture that has followed until this day. The unforgivable racial manner in which white intruders originally marginalized the Hawaiian people, and how their culture was practically taken away from them. To the point that the Hawaiians were not allowed to compete in the first surfing competitions…in Hawaii! Once again, I am reminded how shamefully we Americans have treated indigenous people; in this case, barely decades ago. Add this to the list of legacy of racism in this country of supposed “equality”. But documentaries such as this do provide hope for the future. I now see how the history of the islands affected native Hawaiians, and it has helped me respect their culture. It gave me a better understanding of the native Hawaiian’s fight to preserve their culture — and also a better understanding of the history of surfing in general. But in the film, this sad history of Hawaii is overshadowed by Aikau’s brilliance and wonderful personality. I have a new-found respect for surfing, its Hawaiian history, and its legends. In the end comes a tragic mistake during a daring attempt to sail to Tahiti to reenact the voyage of the original settlers of Hawaii. But we seem to have a history of sending such “explorers” off (like Amelia Earhart?) with much fanfare and very little common sense. If you’ve been to Hawaii, you may have seen seemingly mystifying bumper stickers saying simply “Eddie Would Go”. The term “Eddie Would Go” will take on new meaning for every surfer who watches this beautifully conceived and skillfully directed movie. This is why I love ESPN Films and the “30 for 30” series. This is one of the best human interest stories I’ve seen, and definitely the best sports movie I’ve come across. AMAZING STORY. Moving and inspiring. Something about this film really connected with me. His story still pops up in my brain from time to time, and I wonder how many Eddies are out there. I will recommend this to others. If I could give more than five stars, I would. Documentary 30 for 30 2013 TV-G 1hr17m. (To find out more about the history and theft of Hawaii, see the movie “Princess Kaiulani”, and read Michener’s book “Hawaii”.)
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