I don't know jack about surfing. Surfing happens at the beach. I avoid the beach because my skin skips the whole tanning step and just turns red and peels. One time I even got blisters. I have a passing interest in surf instrumentals, but aside from that, it's something I just never got into. And I've never seen Big Wednesday.
I am, however, something of a Basil Poledouris fan, so a few years ago I caught up to a promo called Honor and Glory that included a suite from Big Wednesday¹, and I was struck with the epic approach that Poledouris took to a movie about surfing. It was big and sweeping, and I was suitably impressed.
I recently recieved Film Score Monthly's release of this score and have to say that it really gripped me. It certainly fits into the tradition of epic nautical scores. The contemporary touches root the score in the era(s) it takes place in, but these are flavorings for what is primarily a symphonic work of great splendor.
I'm generally annoyed by Milius' quests to create mythology through testosterone-infused fascist mumbo-jumbo. If married to the right concept, such as with Conan the Barbarian, it can work really well, but it can also make some morally murky rah-rah statements like that of Flight of the Intruder. He thinks he's Sergio Leone or something. Here, it's something about how "Milius saw surfing as the final expansion of the American frontier," thus likening it to some form of spiritual Manifest Destiny. The liner notes for this disc discuss the film, and I'm curious to see it now, and have added it to my Netflix queue. While I'm not particularly interested in the surfing, it looks interesting enough, if for no other reason than to hear how the score works with the images. I mean, it sounds like a pretty intimate story, so I'm wondering where the grandeur really fits into it.
¹ It also had a suite from Conan the Barbarian before it got remastered which I like for nostalgia reasons, it sounds exactly like that shitty old white-shelled MCA cassette of the Conan soundtrack album that I wore out listening to in high school.