The inspiring and tumultuous story of 85-year old surfer, health advocate and sex guru, Dr. Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz, his wife Juliette, and their nine children who were all home-schooled and raised in a small camper on the beach, where they surfed and had to adhere to the strict diet and lifestyle of animals in the wild.Written by
Director Doug Pray found Dorian Paskowitz an extremely difficult person to interview. Moreover, Pray decided not to use surf music in this film because he doesn't consider it to be a documentary on surfing. See more »
My theory is: You don't get educated in Stanford. What you get in Stanford is knowledge. But education means wisdom. Wisdom you get from experience, living, people that you meet and in everyday kind of life. And this is what my children get a lot of.
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Got You (Where I Want You)
Written by Adam Paskowitz, James Book, Nick Lucero and Peter Predichizzi
Performed by The Flys
Published by Ensign Music o/b/o itself and Coach And Hooch Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Windswept Holding LLC o/b/o Kirtland Records See more »
All in the family
Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz has been riding the waves for nigh unto three-quarters of a century now. In 1956, at the age of 45, he abandoned a career as a doctor to pursue a life dedicated almost exclusively to surfing and raising a family - and he hasn't looked back since. In fact, Doc and his family have achieved a notoriety of sorts (in surfing circles, at least) for their nonconformist, iconoclastic lifestyle, which involved all eleven of them living together in a cramped 24-foot camper trailer, avoiding any kind of formal schooling, and flitting from one beach to another in search of the perfect wave. Now, in his mid 80s, Doc, along with his wife, Juliette, and their nine kids - eight of whom are named after Biblical figures - discuss their lives and upbringings in the fascinating documentary "Surfwise" by director Doug Pray. Life literally has been a beach for these people.
The thing that strikes us most about Doc is that he is no self-conscious radical trying to make an ideological point with his life; rather, he's a fairly average guy who's honest enough to admit that he never much cared for school or the money-grubbing rat race of the corporate or business world and that he is simply much healthier and happier when in the water. And it is these values that he has chosen to instill in his children, along with a devotion to their Jewish heritage and a healthy attitude towards sex (apparently, he and his wife were less than shy about showing their affection for one another in front of the children, much to the kids' consternation at times).
But there has been a definite downside to this nonconformity as well, and the movie does not shy away from depicting it - whether it be in Doc's dictatorial, even violent, methods of maintaining his authority over the kids or in the children's understandable desire to break free of their upbringing to lead a lifestyle more in accord with social norms. And, of course, there's the resentment they've come to harbor in their later years towards a father who, by willfully choosing to separate them from the outside world, rendered them ill-equipped to function in that world once they became adults (one son laments that he could never attend medical school because he was too far behind all the other applicants in basic knowledge to successfully compete with them). The movie raises the thorny issue of just how much right a parent has to deny his children the privileges and benefits that come from being socialized into the society around them. Was Doc practicing a form of child abuse - or simple providing his kids with a rare and perhaps enviable opportunity to live life as one long summer camp? (The family does actually run a camp of sorts dedicated to teaching the fine art of surfing to crowds of eager youngsters). Even the kids themselves can't agree on the answer to that question, with some feeling the need to defend their dad and the way in which he raised them and others choosing to lash out at and lambaste him for the same reason. Yet, the children could hardly be classified as dysfunctional adults, with each of them pursuing respectable careers and raising apparently stable and healthy families. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the documentary is that it leaves it up to the viewer to formulate his own assessment of Doc. We're never pushed to take sides in the conflict.
Through Doc's story, "Surfwise" provides a fascinating look at what it means to be a family, what it means to be a parent, and why it's important to find a balance between the overindulgences of the modern world and the deprivations of a simple life, not completely ignoring one at the expense of the other. The movie ends on an upbeat note with a long overdue reunion where old wounds are healed and old grudges put aside - all in the name of Family. Which is, I suppose, as it should be.
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