ALL THIS MAYHEM
Australia, 2013, 95 minutes, Colour.
Tas Pappas, Ben Pappas.
Directed by Eddie Martin.
Certainly a lot of mayhem, and by the end of the film audiences may thinking mayhem is too slight a word.
There will be two audiences for this documentary about that Pappas brothers, those who know absolutely nothing about them, their story or even skateboarding, and those who are skateboarding fans, have followed the sport for many years, know the champions and their skills. For the latter audience, it will be an opportunity for seeing the images of the past, thinking through the mayhem in the Pappas brothers’ lives, and see something of despair and hope. For the former audience, they have the advantage of discovering as the narrative unfold, the variety of complications, the sport, the mayhem and its consequences.
This is also a Melbourne-based film, with the skateboarding centres in Prahan and Northcote, the suburbs nearby as well as St Albans in the west. The two brothers were born in the 1970s, were regulars at skateboarding in the late 1980s, becoming more and more noticed with their skills, not over-outstanding at the beginning, but becoming more and more able and effective. Fortunately, for this film, there were a number of skateboard fans taking videos of the action, in Melbourne, as well as in various places in the United States where, first of all, Tas Pappas moved, soon followed by his brother, Ben.
Once the brothers are in the United States, they pal up with many of the skateboard experts of the time – a kind of communal living, a kind of reckless indulgence in everything you might think of, especially the drugs. By the mid 90s, there is strong competitiveness in the United States, with the two brothers emerging as world champions.
As the title indicates, all is not plain sailing. In fact there are some literal drownings.
The key to this documentary is a long interview with Tas Pappas in 2013, a detailed straight-to-camera, very frank, re-living of his life, the story of his parents and their breakup, going to the United States, his father following and getting into financial troubles, his brother, Ben, succeeding in the United States – and then the disasters which, for those not in the know, had better not be outlined here as following through Tas’s narrative, there are many, many surprises.
For the fans, there is plenty of skateboard footage from the late 80s, through the 90s and into the succeeding decade, views of the American champions, the many competitions over those years, and the screaming and yelling fans. The inclusion of the many talking heads from the United States as well as from Melbourne add to the interest, especially with their hindsight opinions. For those not in the know, while they can admire various manoeuvres, there seems a fair amount of repetitiveness in the skateboarding.
Tas Pappas explains that his family were real “Bogans” and he gives quite an interesting description, which means of this documentary is also a look at the Australian character, the competitiveness, the attitude which one of the American says is: Australians don’t give a shit! But, when all is said and done or, at least, a lot is said and done, that estimate of the Australian character is not quite accurate. Truth and honesty may come a bit late in life, but this film shows that it may not come, but that it could well come.