Shot in Hi-Definition and Super 16mm, The Big Swell follows the life cycle of a massive winter swell from its birth in the heart of a violent storm in the North Pacific through to its death throes in the form of giant waves breaking at a notorious surf break in Northern California. The story is told through the words of renowned surfers and marine forecasters. The anticipation of the swell's arrival provides a glimpse into the lives of this select group of people that make these massive winter waves their passion bordering on obsession. In the process, it explains how and why such waves come into being and what they are capable of. In the end, the film provides a chance to witness a group of people tempt fate in one of the most dramatic and frightening ways conceivable, but also see nature in one of its truly powerful and graceful moments.