Skateboarding – or skate – is one of the most particular sports in the world: extreme and ostracized, with a great grip on young people but also accompanied by a specific lifestyle and a specific culture, it is something that goes beyond the mere concept of sport and easily leads to social issues.
A phenomenon that began to spread extensively between the end of the seventies and the eighties, first in the United States and then, cascading, in other Western countries, including Italy. A phenomenon that has not known any crisis since then, and which owes its popularity to songs, TV series but also to films, which have propagated its ideals and epic all over the world. So let’s find out together five of the best skate movies from the 80s to today.
Race to the Massacre
Josh Brolin and the Red Hot Chili Peppers
The first film to speak, in an important way, of American skate culture, was undoubtedly Race to the Massacre, also known by the original American title of Thrashin ‘. Directed in 1986 by David Winters starting from a screenplay by Paul Brown and Alan Sacks, the film is little known in Italy, where it did not have a real distribution and was instead broadcast by various private broadcasters in the late 1980s.
Particularly not insignificant is the role of the protagonist, Corey Webster, entrusted to a very young Josh Brolin, who was at the time a veteran of the glories of The Goonies, his debut film, but in the film also appeared some very young Red Hot Chili Peppers, busy playing their Black-Eyed Blonde. The story was that of a group of boys from Indiana who were on a trip to California for a national skateboarding competition called the “race to the massacre”.
When the skateboard turns yellow
Another cult film, and equally unobtainable, is California Skate, the Italian title of Gleaming the Cube, an American film from 1989 that boasted, in the cast, a young Christian Slater who had just come out of three consecutive hits such as The name of the rose, Tucker, un Uomo and his dream and Splinters of Madness, and above all some pro skaters like Tony Hawk and Tommy Guerrero, as well as those who worked as stunts.
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The plot mixed action and thriller: the protagonist, Brian Kelly, was in fact a skating enthusiast who spent the afternoons with a gang of friends, but who also remained a witness against his will to the murder of his stepbrother, a murder that was, however, passed off as suicide. . Trying to unmask the culprits, the boy matured together with his companions, even running some risks.
Dogtown and Z-Boys
The documentary on the revolution of the 70s
The third film of our five, Dogtown & Z-Boys, written and directed by Stacy Peralta in 2001, is not a narrative film, but rather a documentary. The story is that of the Z-Boys which also inspired the most famous film of this genre, which we will talk about very shortly: this crew was a group of about fifteen surfers who in the seventies decided to find an afternoon pastime, since the waves of California were suitable for surfing only in the early hours of the morning, and they opted for the skateboard, revitalizing its use.
Stacy Peralta, the director, was one of the members of that group that revolutionized the way of using the skate after it had been relegated to almost a children’s game for years; therefore the documentary reconstructs from the very point of view of the protagonists the exploits of the Z-Boys, who secretly entered the rich California villas to practice with the skateboard inside the pools emptied by the water.
Lords of Dogtown
The epic of the boys of Venice Beach
Again by Stacy Peralta is the screenplay for the film Lords of Dogtown, which tells the same events as Dogtown & Z-Boys but in a form more suited to the Hollywood system and with professional actors (as well as with the direction of Catherine Hardwicke, former director at the time also of Thirteen – 13 years and later of the first chapter of Twilight ); in fact, the cast included Emile Hirsch, Heath Ledger, Nikki Reed, Rebecca De Mornay, America Ferrera, Johnny Knoxville, and others.
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The story is again that of the guys from Venice Beach, who discover the possibility of installing polyurethane wheels on traditional skateboards and using them almost like surfboards on asphalt. The group, which also often hung out around the surf shop Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions, would later form an award-winning team, the Zephyr Skate Team, hence the nickname Z-Boys. In the film also appear, with cameos, the old original members of the group and the well-known Tony Hawk.
Between skateboarding and death
The last film we have chosen is again a film in which the love of skate is mixed with a broader and more dramatic plot. The film we are talking about is Paranoid Park, directed and written in 2007 by Gus Van Sant based on a novel by Blake Nelson; a film that, as often happens to the American director, was highly appreciated by critics, so much so that it won the Special Award for the 60th anniversary at the Cannes Film Festival and was elected film of the year by the critics of the Cahiers du cinéma.
The story is that of a sixteen-year-old from Portland, Oregon, who frequents Paranoid Park, a park loved by skaters; with a group of these he decides to feel some strong emotions and try to jump on the moving freight trains, but here a tragedy occurs that threatens to upset his life: a guard who rushed to stop them is cut in two by another train also for the fault of the boy, and the investigation seems to somehow convey on him.