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Crystal Voyager (with Pink Floyd soundtrack)

DVD REVIEW

Crystal Voyager DVD - classic surfing movie including Pink Floyd - coverFilm originally released 1972.

New Digital Transfer by Blue Dolphin Films and available to buy through this special link.

At last, on DVD, comes this classic surf movie. American surfer-cameraman George Greenhough rides the waves from California to Byron Bay, using ground-breaking photography to take us inside the tube on his flexible, high-tech 'spoon' kneeboard. At the time of the 'shortboard' revolution, Greenhough ignited the imagination of the surfing world and expressed a passion that had lain dormant in the hearts of generations of surfers. And legendary in Floyd circles for including Echoes in full at the culmination of the movie!

George is a cult figure in the surfing community, having practiced his art for many years. This seventy five minutes film is a document of his efforts to reach normally inaccessable surfing areas, building his boards, preparing special cameras to film it, and the boat to get there!

Well put together and with an interesting narration by George himself, there are plenty of fantastic images throughout. The music complements the often fairly abstract, onscreen action well, although little attempt was made to match crashing waves with the music.

This is no bad thing - the visuals are given the chance to flow, without being cut to pieces to fit a drum beat!

Crystal Voyager DVD - classic surfing movie  including Pink Floyd - scene selectionThe Echoes segment takes up the final twenty three minutes of the film, and is a magical combination of sound and vision.

Partly shot from the viewpoint of a dolphin, the view is of life just under the waves, and starts with an "Echoes" title floating to the surface of the water, away from the camera. It's long been thought that this is a slightly different mix of Echoes, than the one which appears on the album "Meddle". Whether or not this is the case, on this DVD the clarity of this track, and especially the vocal, is impressive.

For people who enjoy the film, there are some interesting extras included on the disc. A nice touch is the "Echoes" 'ping' that rings out when you select either the bonus features or scene index screens! The picture gallery gives a set of images - cover shots of past releases, posters, and then a collection of posters and stills from the production.

Crystal Voyager DVD - classic surfing movie  including Pink Floyd - opening titlesThere's also a couple of interviews, firstly with George Greenough (pictured left, from the start of the film), who wrote and shot it, providing an interesting and wide ranging twelve minute chat about pretty much everything, followed by an interview with David Elfick, the director and producer.

His fascinating nine minute interview discusses "selling" the idea of using Echoes with the surfing footage, to Floyd's manager Steve O'Rourke and the band themselves at their London office (and includes an appalling impersonation of one of the band!).

There is also an "interesting" six minute animation - a classic "stoner" movie that seems pretty dated to these eyes, and biographies of the main creators of Crystal Voyager. The biog of David Elfick shows the incredible range of films he has worked on over the years.

Crystal Voyager DVD - classic surfing movie  including Pink Floyd - closing titlesDespite the new digital transfer, the main feature's picture is sadly non-anamorphic - although the menu's and some of the bonus features ARE. Most peculiar... (For those not sure about this terminology, an anamorphic picture properly fills widescreen TV screens, dispensing with black bars at the top and bottom of the image).

The sound is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo and provides a crisp and clear soundtrack - as my comments above about Echoes bear out. The picture is pretty good throughout Crystal Voyager; the occasional negative scratch or blemish is evident throughout, but thankfully the digital transfer shows no sign of artifacts at all.

Apart from the obvious track, the other music found on the soundtrack is pretty good, too. Performed by G Wayne Thomas, I particularly enjoyed his music to accompany the first main wakeboard shots of George.

Overall, then, a great film for relaxing to - one of the great chill-out movies - and a nice transfer (even if it is missing a proper anamorphic picture!). The story behind the use of Echoes is an interesting one and as far as we know, has not been told before. So even if surfing doesn't interest, some of the other content might.