Sunshine Superman Blu-ray Review
In my fourth week of basic training, in 1979, myself and a couple of other young soldiers were asked if we were interested in “going Airborne.” It took me all of five seconds to give them my answer: NO. When asked why I told them I would have a pretty hard time making myself jump out of an airplane that was crashing, let alone a perfectly good one. While he never served in the Army, Carl Boenish would have made one heck of a paratrooper.
The film tells the story, through home video and television footage, of Carl Boenish, a man who loved the freedom that sky diving and, later, base jumping gave him. Like most young boys of his time, Boenish was given a vaccine to combat polio. Ironically he contracted the disease from the vaccine and spent many years in a wheelchair. However, his will and desire won out and soon after he recovered he was beating every boy he challenged to a foot race.
After high school he got a job working for one of Howard Hughes’ companies, but decided to try his hand in the movie business. It was his love of both film and skydiving that netted him a job as special photographer on the John Frankenheimer film THE GYPSY MOTHS. He also went on to make a couple short documentary films detailing the hobby he loved. As Boenish’ reputation grows, so does his desire to do bigger and more spectacular things. This is where BASE jumping begins. Standing for “Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth,” the only rule was that you had to be at least 1,000 feet up. This made big city skyscrapers perfect targets, usually when they were still under construction and had minimal security. Through television footage from the late 60s and early 70s (keep an eye out for a young reporter named Pat Sajak), Boenish and his wife, Jean, travel around the country looking for the next peak to conquer. There fame becomes such that soon businesses are inviting them to jump off of their buildings.
Of course, not everyone is pleased with what Carl is doing and one of the building owners in Los Angeles has him arrested and tried for trespassing. But not to worry. Carl is now looking for natural take off places and sets his sights on the 7,000 foot El Capitan mountain ridge in Yosemite National Park. His success here leads him to a David Frost hosted television program dealing with the Guiness Book of World Records. This jump, and its aftermath, give a sobering yet intriguing end to Carl’s story. One of giving your all and beating the odds, no matter what lies in front of you.
Told through the words of those who knew and loved him, Carl Boenish’ story is truly one worth hearing and appreciating. I’ve never regretted the decision I made almost forty years ago to keep my feet on the ground but I can certainly see and understand the rush that others get from floating on the wind.
Video: Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film is comprised of sharply focused interview footage and archival 16mm film. Considering the age of some of the footage, the video presentation is outstanding.
Audio: The soundtrack is delivered in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1. Again, the interviews come across better than some of the archival tracks. And the musical soundrtack, including the title song by Donovan, is amazingly put together.
Flying Dreams: The Making of “Sunshine Superman”: (9:43): Interviews with the film’s director, Marah Strauch, producer Eric Bruggeman and others discussing the film.
“Masters of the Sky” (A Short Filmpoem by Carl Boenish) (13:54): One of Boenish’ early films featuring the thrill of skydiving.
“Sky Dive!” (A Short Filmpoem by Carl Boenish) (14:41): A similar short poem but with much smoother photography.