For 25 years in Invercargill at the south end of New Zealand, Burt Munro (1899-1978) has been working on increasing the speed of his motorcycle, a 1920 Indian. He dreams of taking it to the Bonneville Salt Flats to see how fast it will go. By the early 1960s, heart disease threatens his life, so he mortgages his house and takes a boat to Los Angeles, buys an old car, builds a makeshift trailer, gets the Indian through customs, and heads for Utah. Along the way, people he meets are charmed by his open, direct friendliness. If he makes it to Bonneville, will they let an old guy on the flats with makeshift tires, no brakes, and no chute? And will the Indian actually respond? Written by
At a post-film question and answer session at the National Film Theatre, London on 20 February 2006, director Roger Donaldson said that four motorcycles were built for the shoot: two replica Indian Scouts for detail shots made by the late motorcycle engineer John Britten's firm and two modified Ducatis for the running shots. He also said all four had difficulties on the salt flats breaking down regularly although the Ducatis reached 150mph for some shots. As for his own exploits, Donaldson admitted that the highest motorcycle speed he achieved was 65mph. See more »
In the scene in which Burt Munro and the Indian are caught speeding by the state trooper, skid marks created by the cruiser in other takes are clearly visible in at least one shot. See more »
[rolling a distance gauge]
93... 94... 95... 96... 97...
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A beautifully simple tale with great vibes and no villains.
All I knew about this movie going in was that it was the life story of an Ivan Mauger-type motorcyclist whom I'd never heard of; that he was a Southlander; and that Anthony Hopkins was playing the chap - complete with a rolled rrrr's Southland accent. I came away with a feeling similar to when I first saw "Tucker the man & his dream" and "Cool runnings" - A genuine feeling of euphoria that someone whom I ordinarily would have little particular interest in, has accomplished a dream. Roger Donaldson has created a rare cinematic masterpiece with "The world's fastest Indian" - he has crafted a feel-good movie which achieves a "Field of dreams" emotional level with a climax which is deliberately low-key and in keeping with the subject matter. Despite the fact that Burt Munro's efforts set an as-yet unbeaten world record, he was a humble bloke who just went back to his shed at the end of the day to tinker. I loved this movie because it tells a straight-forward tale of someone so fixed on his dream that anyone he comes into contact with simply can't help but do what they can to help him. There are no villains in this movie - except bad luck and circumstance. And the way Munro overcomes adversity is incredibly charming, and an inspiration to anyone. Sir Anthony Hopkins is incredible, as usual. There aren't many actors who could pull off the Antipodean twang and the Southland R-rolling to boot! But Hopkins carries it off almost impeccably. The shimmering cinematography on the Bonneville salt flats is another highlight of this masterpiece, and I think I'm going to have to see it again before it winds up its run at my local cinema to fully appreciate it! (The first time I was too caught up in the agony of Burt's struggle!) This truly is a great flick. Probably not an Oscar winner, but for me, "World's fastest Indian" belongs alongside the aforementioned "Tucker," etc. There's probably not much point in releasing it in the United States - it's not their kind of feel-good movie. But I sure hope Donaldson takes it to Cannes...the Europeans should like it as much as "Whale rider."
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