Film reviews from theaters, couches, and film festivals
Last Paradise (Clive Neeson): New Zealand
Reviewed by Khristine Biver. Viewed at Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Every generation thinks that its accomplished all there is to accomplish, that it has reached the pinnacle of technology, that it couldn’t possibly imagine what the next revolution will be, and yet, the next generation finds a way to blow their ancestors out of the water. Last Paradise follows one group’s lifelong quest to play with all that the earth has to offer.
Compelled to seek extreme adventures and never-ending play among friends, filmmaker Clive Neeson and friends not only pioneered many extreme sports of today but also crafted the means of capturing all of their play on film, spawning a new genre of film. After decades of production, Last Paradise is the must-have film for any adventure junkie. Forty years in the making, all original footage captures the first tackles of many extreme sports, including surfing in all of its forms, extreme skiing, jet skiing and snowboarding, just to name a few. With the beautifully untamed New Zealand as their playground, Neeson and his friends had an incredible array of intense wilderness from which they quenched their thirst for adrenaline.
The film tracks the development of equipment for the various sports they created, from the many types of boards required for surfing down waves or mountains to the camera equipment to adequately capture moments no one else had every experienced. They invented the sorts of filmmaking we take for granted these days, such as underwater housing for their cameras to capture surfing up close in the water. Innovative and very experimental, this film is a compilation of the footage captured by the few adventure sports junkies over the past forty years.
The innovate way of giving the audience their perspective while coasting down the crest of a wave or attacking the side of a mountain is what makes this documentary sports film so outstanding. The shots are done in such a way that the viewer gets a feeling of being in that moment of adrenaline. The film captures the closest feeling one can get outside of actually participating in the sport. This is achieved through camera positioning and editing of the shots. Thus, the camera becomes part of the adventure; rather than looking in from the outside. The audience is able to capture the spirit of what it feels like to careen through muddy flats on a thin board attached to the back of a pick-up truck, an event that led to the invention of wakeboarding.
When asked about this style of filmmaking, Clive Neeson expressed the importance of this film giving the view a sense of their adventure rather that alienating the viewer from the sports. Watching this film makes you want to buy a VW van for the sole purpose of finding new ways to conquer old territory, just for the thrill of it. This film truly evokes the spirit of the filmmakers.
About this entry
- Mason Goodman
I saw this film at the Arlington Theater and it truly opened my eyes to how much our world has changed. I myself am an environmental studies major so I know some of the damages we have done and are doing to our planet. This film however, actually showed me what it once was like, and what it is now. It is sad to see all of this breathtaking wildlife wither away for development. Clive Neeson does a wonderful job inspiring us to go out and enjoy the world, but in a responsible way. For him, it’s about going to those places where he can be alone with nature and share the beauty with others. I also really enjoyed the fact that the movie spans over 40 years of film to show a full picture of really what is going on.