Morning of the Earth is coming to the big screen! More info here.
When he was co-founder of Tracks in the early 70s, Albe Falzon had a hectic schedule. Back then Tracks was produced out of a rustic, two storey house at Whale Beach in Sydney.When he wasn’t working on the magazine, Albe would dash north to shoot for his movie project, ‘Morning of the Earth’. Somehow, between deadlines, Albe also squeezed in a trip to Bali and a spell in Hawaii to gather footage for a film that would ultimately inspire a generation, and echo through the decades. These days Albe lives on the north coast, where he spends his days pouring over his archives, tending to injured native animals and riding all the waves he didn’t while he was filming. He strives to lead a simple life in synch with his natural environment – the kind he was trying to advocate half a century ago when he first released ‘Morning of the Earth’.
While MOTE helped mythologise surfers like Michael Peterson, Steve Cooney and Baddy Treloar, Albe will tell you it was always designed to shift human consciousness towards a more symbiotic relationship with nature.
This theme is established in the film’s opening sequence where a montage of brilliantly lit landscapes and geographic wonders are set against the ethereal title track – ‘Morning of the Earth’.The lyrics of which tell us ‘Earth you were magnificent through the pain of bein’ born.’ In between the exhilarating surfing action in the film we see NatYoung feeding his chooks on his farm, Chris Brock living in the Angourie treehouse he made out of driftwood, and Baddy making boards in the backyard of his weatherboard shack, to the tune of Simple Ben. MOTE never preaches, rather it’s an enchantment that ushers us towards a more harmonious relationship with nature. As he prepares to release a fully remastered version of MOTE for its 50th anniversary (see more details over), it’s the film’s Arcadian themes that Albe wants to re-emphasise.
“Morning of the Earth has stood the test of time and perhaps is more important today in view of the increased number of people on the planet and the demands they are having on its resources and eco systems. We need more than ever to be reminded of the fragile system we have inherited and to a certain extent ‘Morning of the Earth’ is a reminder that we are all truly responsible for our decisions and actions. It is important that we individually and collectively embody those qualities that will ensure that we live a sustainable life, not one based on over production and over consumption, but one based on sensitivity to all life and on all levels on this Earth. Morning of the Earth reflects in a simple way how we can endure and sustain and enjoy our life here and leave a small footprint and a better world in our passing.”
To complement the redux edition, Albe also wanted to feature a different moment from the film as the catalyst for conversation. When many of us think about ‘Morning of the Earth’ we see a crystallised image of the immortalised Michael Peterson cutback, or the circular- framed picture of Stephen Cooney and Rusty Miller standing side-by-side on the edge of the reef at Uluwatu. However, for the 50th anniversary edition, Albe elected to go with the subliminal split- second flash, which appears intermittently throughout the film. “Surfing for me and many others whether they recognise it or not is a series of high points,” explains Albe. “’In Morning of the Earth’ I used the split-second flash to highlight these moments…The flash most frequently used was from the crater in Maui. It represented the flash of adrenaline at high points during the surfing of that wave… The waves that we encounter help to make us who we are… The ocean energy is transformative and that’s what I tried to capture in a very simplistic and abstract way through the film – the flash of light that appears periodically throughout the movie expresses that.”
However, Albe explains that the symbolism of the flash extends far beyond the highs we experience in pivotal surfing moments. “On a more subtle and esoteric level it also represented the moment of birth of the Earth some billions of years ago…”
Albe hopes the MOTE re-release will inspire a modern audience to embrace the ideals the film promotes, but he certainly doesn’t dismiss the role of the surfers as heralds for his message about respecting and loving the earth. “Editing the film was pure joy,” he emphasises. “To be able to sit quietly in the editing room and reflect on the images was truly incredible. I was able to finely observe the magnificence of each surfer’s ability. I could slow everything down and look at the finer, subtle elements involved with each movement.”
When you hear Albe talk so passionately about working on MOTE you are reminded of just how powerful the film is. Somehow, the alchemy of brilliant surfing, exulting music, and deft editing makes it into something approximating a spiritual experience. Even the most cynical surfer can watch MOTE and feel uplifted.
“That was a fascinating experience for me – editing is where the film truly comes together,” explains Albe. You see what wasanidea–aflashinyourmind–turn into something concrete. It is no longer abstract but manifests in color and form and light – add to this the beauty of sound and emotion and you truly can create something of significance that will enhance and expand someone’s consciousness in a way that you never thought would happen.”
Stay posted for a more extensive look at the untold stories from ‘Morning of the Earth’, and details about the re-release next issue.
MORNING OF THE EARTH – IN 4K
To celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary, ‘Morning of the Earth’ is being meticulously restored and beautifully remastered from the original 16mm AB Rolls. Thanks to the team of Justin Misch and Matt Wessen, each and every one of the 150 000 frames have been digitised in 4K and are undergoing a state-of-the-art museum-grade digital restoration process.To match the original projection, the film is being colour graded, stabilised, de-flickered, scratch and dust-busted, all while staying true to the director’s original vision and the 16mm source format. The soundtrack is also being remastered for a completely revamped experience. A culmination of a three-year effort, this 50th anniversary edition presents a pristine and timeless copy which the director, Albert Falzon, says, “Looks and sounds better than it ever has.” This re-release will be presented open-matte and displayed in its original Academy aspect ratio.
MORNING OF THE EARTH – 50th ANNIVERSARY BOOK
This beautifully designed coffee table book commemorates ‘Morning of the Earth’s’ 50th anniversary and showcases 170 brilliantly remastered images from the film. Executed without compromise, it is the definitive companion, featuring 50 screen grabs from never-before-seen outtakes that reveal a forgotten past.The book is swiss bound for a truly immersive lay-flat experience, presenting crystal clear imagery on uncoated paper stock that transports the viewer back to a land before time. See Australia, Bali and Hawaii before rampant development took over; see the wide angled point of views that didn’t make the film; see legendary scenes like the surf discovery of Uluwatu, Bali; and travel back to the early 70s where country soul was life, and surfing was too.
The book includes a 40-page introduction with Albert Falzon and Torren Martyn, a foreword by David Elfick, and essays by Sean Doherty, Jamie Brisick, Simon Jones and Falzon, who share intimate stories, dive deep into the history of the film, reveal rare never-before-seen archival treasures, and explore the early development of an artist and the filmmaker’s journey. This treasure keeps the story going, and as a comprehensive look at ‘Morning of the Earth’s’ 50-year heritage, is a must-have and pre-requisite for any surfer and cinephile alike. It is a stunning time capsule that will allow you to fall in love with ‘Morning of the Earth’ all over again.
Comes with two films: ‘Morning of the Earth’ in 4K, and the 30-minute ‘Lost Reels’ film. A Limited Collector’s Edition will also be available, signed and numbered with a fine art print (A4) of the newly remastered and world-famous Michael Peterson cutback. Pre-orders of the book are available at Morningoftheearth.com
MORNING OF THE EARTH – THE LOST REELS OUTTAKES FILM
In the process of remastering ‘Morning of the Earth’, 90 minutes of never- before-seen outtakes were unexpectedly unearthed. Because of the wealth of this material, a 30-minute outtakes film is being produced by Matt Wessen and Justin Misch in conjunction with Albe. Getting back to where it all began, this artistic showcase of the ‘Lost Reels’ paints a more complete picture of ‘Morning of the Earth’ and reveals culturally, environmentally and socially significant details. Even though these lost reels surfaced late in the game, the same meticulous restoration process is being applied. The film will cover Australia, Bali, and Hawaii, and be accompanied by an all-new original soundtrack. See more on Instagram @morning_of_the_earth.
MOTE IS COMING TO THE BIG SCREEN! WITH SPECIAL GUESTS AND ONE NIGHT ONLY VIEWINGS, IT IS NOT ONE TO MISS. FIND TICKETS HERE.