By William Engel
“Virgin Blacktop: A New York Skate Odyssey” is a documentary chronicling the genesis, peak and dissolution of The Wizards, a team of nine New York teenagers united by their passion for skateboarding. The film is comprised of footage, news articles and stories spanning more than thirty years, compiled by Charlie Samuels, one of the Wizards’ most prominent members.
The film has an informal, conversational tone. We see grainy, unedited clips of the young skaters practicing their chops (much of it taken by Samuels himself), tied together by various anecdotes shared by the surviving members. By constructing the film in such a way, Samuels imbues it with a sense of charm and authenticity that’s seldom seen in mainstream documentaries.
Their story, of course, has its low points. Eventually, we see the Wizards go their separate ways in pursuit of their own careers – and while some of them go on to be respectably successful, others end up having to “hustle” in order to make ends meet, and one even falls deathly ill. But none of the ex-Wizards interviewed ever sound bitter or sorrowful recapping their lives. They’re genuinely grateful for what they had at their peak and have come to accept the path that fate has lead them down.
Ultimately, the story told by “Blacktop” is neither happy nor sad; it just is. It’s life, presented in its purest, rawest form.
Virgin Blacktop: A New York Skate Odyssey
1h 23min | Documentary
Director: Charlie Samuels
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