Monday, July 17, 2006

THE WORLD'S FASTEST INDIAN - great story, great film

THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN is a charming film about a guy called Burt Munro. Burt was a stubborn, mechanically-minded New Zealander who drove a modified “Indian” motorcycle. Even as an old man, this eccentric old duffer was dreaming of breaking the land-speed record for bikes of his class, but didn’t have the requisite cash to make it to the Salt Lake test track. Spurred on by his lover and his mates from the local motorcycle club, Burt eventually made it to Salt Lake in the late ‘60s. The first half of the movie shows his road-trip from LA to Salt Lake – and his encounters with similarly eccentric and charming people. The second half of the movie focuses on his struggle to persuade the powers that be to allow him race. After all, his cycle is so old it’s a joke, and it hardly passes safety regulations. Throughout his travels and trials, Burt comes across as a stubborn but disarmingly honest and open individual. And I defy anyone watching this movie not to get caught up in Burt’s attempt to break the land-speed record. Sir Anthony Hopkins delivers another stand-out performance, although I’d love to hear from any Kiwis as to whether he nails the accent. And the movie is all the better because the director, Roger Donaldson, pulls back from any Ron-Howard-style schmaltz at the end. He lets the story – and what a story! – do the talking.

THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN premiered at Toronto 2005 and has been on releases in most countries since. It is available on Region 1 and 2 DVD. It opens in Poland on July 28th, Hungary on September 7th and Germany on October 5th 2006.

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