In the past year Element have gone from strength to strength; the online release of Trio gave skateboarders an unexpected tour de rad from three of their most ‘proper’ skateboarders. That is to say that none of them have ever had to politic-tac their way out of a bad reputation for their activities outside of skateboarding. Why this was unexpected didn’t surprise me too much, even if Element have consistently provided skateboarders with excellent hard goods and above average videos it’s always cool to turn your nose up on the big guys. But for people to still be surprised when the Europe-based Get Busy Living exploded on the web (for free, again) that Element were capable of something so worthy of reaching for that rewind button (or for our generation, awkwardly finding the exact spot on the timeline of the stream and failing but not complaining because the whole section was bonkers), is beyond me.
Let’s just look at the roster for the Euro team: Michael Mackrodt, Janne Saario, Ross McGouran, Marcus Apes, Pirkka Pollari – all are names associated with very good things, maybe one or two funny looking hats but nothing more. The hype machine for this video should have, theoretically, exploded into a cataclysmic fireball throwing shards of excitement into everyone. Hopefully, with this and Trio combined, everyone can expect more gems like this in the future – these were both free, don’t forget.
Talking about what’s in the video itself is essentially redundant given the obviously amazing content, whatever I say is guaranteed to be filled with hive mind commentary. The skating is otherworldly. Marcus doesn’t hesitate to make heads explode with one particular 5-0 grind that’s probably better than any other. His ender is a bed-shitter too so watch out. Phil Zwijsen does some late shoves and fullpipe airwalks to a heft cover of Prodigy’s Fuel My Fire. Ross McGouran has more board control than more or less everyone in the continent. Pirkka has a disgustingly good section, Janne Saario’s first trick (or line on two wheels) is impossible even in video games and Mackrodt dances on ledges and skates mammoth spots. And to close, Guillaume Mocquin get’s hesh and if that isn’t proper then I don’t know what is. The gap to backlip aint nothing to fuck with.
Basically, it’s one of the sickest videos (not online video, not DVD but all encompassing video) to drop in a very long time and that’s exactly what everyone else who’s seen it is saying. The filming is perfectly framed, and HD looks so encouragingly awesome when it’s not subject to an editor who’s a little too liberal with the slow-motion. The colours, man, everything looks sublime.
You can watch the video online, in HD for free below. Let’s shut the door on politics and welcome radness with open arms.
Skate documentaries are – sadly – regularly overshadowed by the films that treat skateboarders as though they couldn’t begin to comprehend something as bold as a narrative. I’ve always been encouraging of skate flicks to have a little more talking and some more creative substance; despite the medium being able to stay afloat without them (I know when I was younger I was the sort to pick up magazines and just look at the pictures, I’m sure I wasn’t alone). Because when this is pulled off right (see Hot Chocolate or Under Wraps) they can reign among the best videos you’ve ever seen. Patrik Wallner’s visual journal of his trans-Siberian trip into some of the world’s most unique spots skated by some of the world’s most unique skaters not only achieves this, but its one of the best.
Running at 46 minutes, the film positions us first in Moscow, then proceeds to follow the troupe all the way to Hong Kong and not once does it tempt your attention to waver from it. The balance between commentary and pure skateboarding is perfect, and it’s not as if the stories are something every skater can’t relate to; it’s a film about getting out there and trying some new things after all. And it doesn’t exaggerate of romanticise anything like some sort of Wes Anderson film, even though the soundtrack isn’t far off one (no complaints, it’s perfect). This is fully gritty-gritty, you can feel every bump, the visuals themselves carry a sort of humidty, it’s rad.
The skateboarding alone is on a mesmerising tip, in which John Tanner really shines (his LINE on the Great Wall Of China is unfuckwithable), Michael Mackrodt kills it and Dan Cates does his thing on sketchy spots that no one else would dare touch. There are some slept-on skaters in there too; Stas Provotorov, Laurence Keefe, Lesha Naimushin, Danny Hochman and Dan Zvereff should cause a lot of you to start following them on their proverbial real-life Twitter account. Oh and Kenny Reed is in there, did you really doubt that a video that drifts through the barren landscapes of Mongolia and other washing-line riddled spots wouldn’t have his name written all over it? He steps in late and despite being plagued by illness and tropical injury he does the stuff he can do and no one else can. Big, stylish fakie tricks to introduce gliding lines; Kenny is one of my all-time favourite skaters to watch.
At certain moments, the documentary does what all documentaries try and rarely succeed in doing, prescribe the viewer with the feelings and emotions of those being documented. During the standing-class and sleeping-bus segments I felt crippled by claustrophobia. There is a strong sense of involvement in the group we’re following and the filmmaker should be applauded for this triumph, so don’t hesistate to pick this one up. It’s interesting, it’s full of spots you’ve never seen before, it’s great fun and it’s super sick.