"World's Fastest Indian": MD Movie Review
By Alex Edge
The motorcycle community has been waiting a long time for a film that accurately portrays our passionate, sometimes eccentric lifestyle to the moviegoing mainstream. Mention the words "Biker Boys" or "Torque" to a real rider, and you'll be met with a shudder and a scowl - and that's if they only saw the commercials! When I was invited to a screening of the new film "The World's Fastest Indian" last night in Beverly Hills, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
The fact that the producers wanted to screen the film specifically for us lowly motorcycle journalists was a good sign. The location (ever heard of Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills) and the involvement of a big-name star (Anthony Hopkins), however, hinted at the possibility that motorcycling might once again have been "Hollywood-ized".
After seeing the film for myself, however, I'm happy to report that nothing could be further from the truth. The basic plotline (closely based on a true story) follows New Zealander Burt Munroe as he travels around the world to America with his streamlined 1920 Indian motorcycle, to fulfill his dream of running the machine on the Bonneville salt flats. Having already claimed the title of "Fastest Indian" in New Zealand and Australia, Burt hopes to "get the thing over 200 just once", and in the process lay solid claim to the title of "World's Fastest Indian".
A quick Q&A with Director Richard Donaldson following the screening revealed a few things about the film's authenticity. Donaldson was a young filmmaker and speed freak in 1971 when he first met Munroe at the annual Bonneville "Speed Week". Donaldson and a friend filmed a small documentary about the amazing New Zealander, and he spent many off-camera hours listening to Burt's tales of world travel and record-setting top speed runs.
As a Bonneville fan himself (he's been to Speed Week 8 times), Donaldson knew that he didn't need any Hollywood Glam to make the salt scene interesting. The bikes in the movie are near-perfect replicas of Munroe's Indian, and all the other race vehicles depicted are authentic to the time period as well. Hopkins nails down a perfect New Zealand accent while portraying Munroe on-screen - Donaldson told us that Hopkins watched parts of the original documentary every morning before filming began, as a sort of training film to help him give an accurate performance.
Now that I've told you why motorcyclists will like it, let me try to pinpoint why I feel it will appeal to the general (non-motorcycling) public. Aside from being a film about a man trying to attain incredible speeds on a motorcycle (that's the part we like), "The World's Fastest Indian" is a touching depiction of a man facing down many challenges in an attempt to fulfill a lifelong dream. These many challenges included his age (Burt was in his 70s when he was riding at Bonneville), lack of funds (traveling around the world with a racebike in tow can get expensive), and his general unfamiliarity with America (the source of many of the film's most comical moments).
Whether they like motorcycles or not, anyone will find this story inspiring and even (dare I use a phrase so overused by movie reviewers that it has nearly lost its original meaning) moving. This is a motorcycle film that the whole family will enjoy, and that I can heartily recommend to all my friends as well.
If this gushy review makes me sound dumbstruck, it's because I am - I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten the chance to see this film, especially since it hasn't even been released yet in the United States! Just for reference, Donaldson mentioned that it's been the #1 film in New Zealand since it opened there 5 weeks ago.
"The World's Fastest Indian" will be released in a few theaters in New York and Los Angeles on December 9th. According to Donaldson, the film will be shown for a few weeks "in order to make it eligible for Academy consideration". It will be re-released in early February, showing at approximately 250 theaters nationwide. For more info and to see the movie trailer for yourself, check out http://www.worldsfastestindian.com
Glowing Reviews for "World's Fastest Indian"
We aren't the only ones charmed by Roger Donaldson's movie about Burt Munro's quest to run we are calling "this generation's great motorcycle movie." It opens December 9 in NYC and LA.
OK guys...just got back from this movie. Easily one of the best motorcycle movies I have ever seen. My wife (who does not like motorcycles very much) was on the edge of her seat through most of the movie and the real exciting parts she was cheering quite loudly (as was most of the theater). It was very exciting and quite funny. It made me proud to ride a motorcycle, unlike nearly every other motorcycle film ever created. Its a shame this film is only showing in two theaters here in Vegas. I hope you all go see it and bring your families and friends even if they are not motorcycle people they will love it.
I tell you Hollywood has been putting out a lot of crap lately and it was a real breath of fresh air to see this film.
I just rented this movie. I had been waiting quite a while because there was never a copy available at the local Block Buster. I saw it with the wife last night. She was not very excited about watching it at first but we both really liked it. Anthony Hopkins did a great job. I would recommend this movie to anyone who hasn't seen it including people who have no interest in motorcycles. :thumbup
me and the g/f watched it last week. i thought it was freaken awesome. really cool. she wasn't too cracked up over it and fell asleep. best bike movie i've seen so far. out side of "Faster" if that counts as a real "movie"nothing beats"faster" though.
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