Barely Dead: The Saga of Modern Rollerblading - documentary

Barely Dead: The Saga of Modern Rollerblading
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Barely Dead: The Saga of Modern Rollerblading explores the history of blading from it's Victorian roots right to the present day.


Cinematographer Doug Urquhart spent years putting this documentary together and raising funds to make it happen. The film chronicles how the novel idea of putting wheels on your feet, devised by Belgian John Joseph Merlin in 1760 when he made a clunky device with metal rollers eventually developed into one of the most popular extreme sports of all-time in the 1990's, and where it could go in the future.


Rollerblading initially was never really taken as a serious sport, especially by skateboarders which has two ironies. Firstly it's possible that skateboarding would have never happened had surfers not used preexisting skates to attach to their boards; they likely would never have paid for something to be custom built. And secondly, skateboarding went through the exact same rough patch of trying to be recognised as a "serious" sport.


It wasn't until the 1994 X-games when people who did other extreme sport started seeing inline-skating akin to theirs. In the public eye, it also exploded as for the first time the sport had been seen by a mainstream audience who had never seen anything quite like it.


The documentary "Barely Dead" lends its name to the idea of the sub-culture is dying a slow death. Sure technically and artistically it was much more developed in 2008 than in 1995 but there was no mainstream interest and therefore no money. Barely Dead is a decade old now and it looks like blading is going to remain an underground sub-culture loved by a few indefinitely. Why would that matter? You shouldn't be passionate about something just because it's popular.

Sport, Society, History

Doug Urquhart
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