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A true story with a nice mix of emotion and motorcycles.
At a sneak preview of this movie in Burt Munro 's hometown - Invercargill, I noticed at the end that many of the men had moist eyes -not that the film is weepy or sycophantic in any way - it's simply inspirational.
The hero/underdog here is a social misfit, a self-confessed dirty old man but a lovable one. He loves the ladies and he loves speeding on his vintage Indian Scout "modified somewhat" along the open beach of Invercargill in Southern New Zealand. Beach bike racers still contest the Burt Munro Trophy on Oreti beach.
Burt's 1967 record at Bonneville still stands.
Anthony Hopkins manages the problematic Kiwi accent well to deliver a touching, funny and realistic depiction of Burt in his quest to be the fastest thing on two wheels. Sir Anthony said that it's the best thing he's ever done and it's hard to disagree based on his laconic and lovable portrayal.
Outstanding cameos by the likes of Annie Whittle and Diane Ladd simply add depth and verisimilitude to the film. Tim Shadbolt, well he definitely acted in the film...
Complete and convincing performances that warm the heart and show true humanity shining through.
The cinematography is clear and precise, the action scenes are mercifully free of special effects and Burt's kiwi innovation and guile win the day.
A new classic from Roger Donaldson.
I saw this film on a plane - I know, I know, the worst place to see any
kind of film - and thought I would just fall asleep as I didn't expect
it to catch my interest enough to put up with the bad audio and small
screens. In any case I dislike feel-good movies, and all the
Kiwi-innovator stuff makes me cringe, Kiwis don't have the monopoly on
being resourceful. And I'd never heard of Burt Munro. So I was
surprised to find within a few minutes I was entranced.
Anthony Hopkins has made a brilliant job of the role, his accent wasn't too bad, and I loved the way he said "Invercarrrrrrgill". Hopkins' talent really shone - without him saying a word or changing his expression, you just knew how Burt felt when confronted by an apparently insurmountable obstacle (I won't spoil it) and his placid acceptance of the inevitable falls, tumbles and injuries told you that for Burt these were a fact of life. The other cast were also flawless, for me there wasn't a weak point in any of the acting. The humour was delivered in the main by Hopkins and with the lightest possible touch. The cinematography was beautiful and conveyed the journey from long quiet light of Munro's idealism in Invercargill, murky 'orribleness of the necessary evil of passing through LA and laying your dream on the line in the harsh open glare of Utah.
Hopkins has done a few of these slightly-disreputable, love-em-when-you-get-to-know-em characters but this is the best. And I'm not a motorcycle fan, and no Kiwi-made-good fan, but I will confess to a tear (almost) at the end when the text came up about Burt's unbeaten record.
If you watch this film at home you won't want to be disturbed by other people talking - you'll want to catch every word, every nuance.
'The World's Fastest Indian' is a unique movie that not only provides a
film that New Zealanders anywhere can be most proud of, while at the
same time contemplating universal themes that everyone outside the
borders of the country can relate to.
The film contains that familiar 'Number 8 fencing wire' mentality that resonates throughout New Zealand society - and also echoes those tropes of masculinity that are so prominent within the National cinema: Burt tinkers with his 1920 Indian Motorcycle with the most unexpected results, using common household objects; he travels to the Bonneville Saltflats in Utah alone, getting by on his wit; and has that dry sense of humour that is familiar around these parts. It also contains the familiar 'man Alone' motif, but in a foreign country, and also touches on that other image of New Zealand men tinkering in their sheds. The film is, what I would call, blatantly Kiwi.
Wider themes that surface are of isolation, alienation, and beating the odds to achieve your dream. What I can definitely say about 'The World's Fastest Indian', is that it's very refreshing - this is no typical underdog story; it's a story that proves that you're never too old to follow through with a dream you've had for years. It was great to have a protagonist that was older than the usual one in contemporary movies, and seemed to give the film more of an anchoring in reality. It makes it far more easier to believe in the story and it's motivations, and heightens the sense of isolation one sometimes goes through when following your heart.
Sir Anthony Hopkins does an amazing job as Burt Munro - the New Zealand accent is impeccable, aside from one or two vowel sounds. His subtleties communicate an intense psychological battle and determination to get the chance to achieve his dream, and his typical sense of humour is wonderful. I'm not sure how accurate this portrayal of Burt Munro is, but the screen character is engaging and pulls the audience in for a solid 2 hours as we watch Burt battle with his demons, and the lack of people's belief in his achieving his goal.
All in all, 'The World's Fastest Indian' is a fantastic film that New Zealanders can be proud of, soaked with Kiwi humour and a character that will remind a lot of us of our grandfathers and that older generation that never complained and got on with life, no matter what they were up against. For international audiences, it's a wonderful underdog story about an older man who had never given up on getting his chance to achieve his dream.
'The World's Fastest Indian' is a fantastic film, and will inspire anyone who gets the chance to see it. Roger Donaldson continues his fine tradition of great movies, and all Kiwis should hold him up to the same heights as they do that other Jackson fulla!
I took a look at this film with a slightly wary eye, the title being rather ambiguous and misleading initially. I almost passed it by to watch one of the many screener DVD's I had to view. for possible inclusion in the BAFTA awards. I presumed it was about a runner or maybe an Indian astronaut, possibly. I had no idea initially the "Indian" referred to a great American motorcycle,rather than a particular type of human.I am so glad I wasn't thrown by the title, and started watching. There unfolded a most delightful story about Bert, an instantly rather charming eccentric old character (superbly played by Anthony Hopkins), who built an old 1920's motorcycle in his garden shed. He then attempts to break the world-land speed record on a machine designed to originally travel about 90mph. The plot develops into a most charming and beautiful story of Bert's determination to get to the race event and the journey is as much of the story as the event itself. Obviously I shall not divulge the result or the events that happen, suffice it to say that Bert becomes an instantly likable character by everyone he meets. Bert's charm shines through and he takes everyone he meets at face value and welcomes all with a smile and a shake of the hand. He meets various "characters" along the way who he befriends like long-lost friends,which is a fresh in these days of prejudice and alienation. This was a very innocent time in 1967 for a New Zealander going to America, and there is one of the films most delightful and charming moments when Bert realises all is not quite what it seems when he meets one certain character......... MAKE SURE YOU SEE THIS FILM, it will have you laughing, crying and will uplift you, which is quite uncommon in these days in the movies of blood, killing, violence and savagery. I would be very surprised if Anthony is not at least nominated for his starring role as Bert. Lovely film which needs a different title to me, but then again "it does what it says on the tin", as they say. Go and see it. Great
It's a good thing I took my wife, because as all men know the only way
not to cry is to look over at your wife/girlfriend and make fun of them
Seriously, I am a motorcycle aficionado but I truly think this movie transcends that. It's not a "guy's film" at all but a serious look at the life of a man that was average by his own reckoning - by ours he's a hero. When you find yourself looking at that and saying "I would have quit" and it was only the beginning of the movie, well, that's some tough stock Burt Munro came from.
And it's not tedious, not an uphill struggle all the way against insurmountable odds, none of those clichés. It's a great movie about a real guy and I can't imagine someone watching it and not being entertained, moved, and frankly, impressed.
Seeing the movie "The World's Fastest Indian" reminded me why I go see
movies. I average about one every two weeks, and this was one of those
rare movies that actually made me feel *happy* afterward.
The main character, New Zealander Bill Munroe as played by Anthony Hopkins, is a true man's man. He has spent his entire adult life tinkering with his streamlined motorcycle, a 1920 Indian (hence the title.) Now in his 60's in the year 1963, he wants to realize his life's dream of taking it halfway around the world to the Bonneville Salt Flats Test Track in Utah, the only place where he can find out how fast it will actually go.
The movie pulls off two often-used themes, The Long Journey and Overcoming Adversity, without a hint of phoniness or melodrama. The Long Journey from New Zealand to Utah takes up most of the movie, with Munroe scrounging up travel money, working off part of his passage on a dilapidated freighter, and the long, event-filled drive from the California coast to Utah in an old used car. Overcoming Adversity is portrayed in two ways: by Munroe's awesome mechanical genius as shown by his ability to fashion spare parts out of almost anything and to improvise a la MacGyver, and in his charm and likability when confronted with more human obstacles. Indeed, one of the movie's chief strengths was the character's ability to make friends easily under any situation, with a cast of colorful supporting characters who wonderfully complemented Hopkins' acting.
After finally reaching the test track, the movie's focus shifts from the acting to the cinematography and drama. The dozens of colorful cars, motorcycles, and drivers' outfits contrast strikingly with the blinding white of the salt flats and the mountainous backdrop. And when Munroe finally gets the chance to make his test run, two questions come to mind. How fast can he go? More importantly, will the 64-year-old man and the 43-year-old patched-up bike hold together under the strain?
After seeing the movie and while still in my euphoric state, my skeptical mind wondered how much of it was actually true. I did a little research, and the portrayal of this amazing man seems to be true enough. Go see this movie; if you do, you'll leave the theater feeling good, and perhaps even a little inspired.
Anthony Hopkins is simply astounding. The man can disappear inside of
characters so diverse and capture you so completely, that you have to
wonder if his well of talent has a bottom.
This film is at turns charming, bawdy, fascinating, riveting, nerve wracking, hilarious, heartwarming and heartbreaking. As Burt Munro -- an aging New Zealand man losing his hearing, short on money, living in a shed surrounded by weeds, considered a lovable if eccentric oddball by all who know him except one small boy, and obsessed with making a 45 year old motorcycle capable of breaking the land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats -- Hopkins takes us along for the ride every minute of this movie. The fact that this film is based on the true story of Burt Munro makes it all the more captivating, but a lesser actor than Hopkins might very well have lost us along the way. It is no wonder that the children of the real-life Burt Munro were moved to tears by Hopkins' portrayal.
There's a clever ongoing bit about the taste of Burt's hot tea, and you will also wonder a bit about how his lemonade might taste. Every scene is a jewel in this movie, and the cumulative effect proves that extraordinary films do not have to cost bazillions of dollars and take two years of computer-generated special effects to WOW their audience.
Burt is challenged by every imaginable obstacle standing between him and his speed dream: his failing heart may give out any minute, the journey around the world to transport the 1920 Indian motorcycle to the USA seems insurmountable, he has no machine shop or whiz-bang tools and equipment to work his engineering miracles, etc. What he DOES have is an indomitable spirit that will never, ever stop trying. Whether he's battling young ruffians who diss his ancient motorcycle or banking, bureaucrats and red tape, he is a wrinkled but worthy warrior.
The supporting cast is as beautiful and bizarre as it gets, and the audience becomes inordinately fond and just about every one of them except for a nasty foreign cabdriver (Carlos Lacamara), but hey, somebody had to be disliked. Great actors in small roles abound, including Diane Ladd as Ada, a frontier gal that's been lonely a while, Saginaw Grant as Jake, an "Indian" with a really distasteful solution to Burt's prostate problems, and Paul Rodriguez as Fernando, a human and humane used car salesman. Perhaps the best scene -- and heart -- stealer is Chris Williams as Tina, a cross-dressing front desk night clerk at a fleabag hooker hotel. You gotta love him. Or her, as the case may be. Stellar performance, and Hopkins' Burt treats Tina with such dignity it defines friendship.
Don't miss this fine, fine film. And if there is justice in the boffo box office world, The World's Fastest Indian will be a true Oscar contender in 2006.
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."
I was lucky enough to see this film on a Qantas flight from LA to Melbourne early in December. My expectation was a low budget, low brow, attempt at making a motorsport film. I was truly blown away by what I saw. Anthony Hopkins deserves an Academy Award for the understated performance of Bert Munro. Always polite, and always focused Bert's dream get embedded in your heart and becomes your dream as well. The journey becomes the story with the characters he meets along the way getting obsessed with his vision as well. The scenes at The Bonneville Salt Flats are stunning and picturesque. I was left with a smile I couldn't get off my face and a tear in my eye. A simple film with a simple premise becomes my "Best Of" pick for 2005.
Greetings again from the darkness. Writer/Director Roger Donaldson has
been very prolific in his Hollywood career creating mostly slick,
ho-hum projects such as "The Recruit", "Thirteen Days", "Dante's Peak"
and "Cocktail". Although there is a touch of sap in this one, Donaldson
turns on the charm for the fascinating tale of Burt Munro, the New
Zealander who shocked the world with his speed records in the 1960's.
Playing a bit like a motorized "Hidalgo", the film captures your heart and imagination thanks in large part to the amazing journey of this spirited man and the terrific performance of Sir Anthony Hopkins. Making his way half way around the world with almost no money to his name, Munro realizes a life long dream of running his hand-built 1920 Indian "motor-sickle" at the Salt Flats of Bonneville in Utah. his journey and openness introduce him to so many people along the way. His warm heart and courage just will these folks to help him out. Everyone wants ol' Burt to make it.
While you may think to yourself this is just a light-hearted Hollywood feel-good film, just remember the man and the story are real. Donaldson and Hopkins worked together over 20 years ago in "The Bounty" and have another very interesting project under way now with "Papa" - a biopic on Ernest Hemingway. Three supporting performances really stand out: Diane Ladd, (comedian) Paul Rodriguez and Christopher Lawford (Peter's son) as Jim Moffit. Donaldson, in a nice touch, also spreads in a few appearances of the guys from the high speed world.
This is one you can take the family to and almost everyone will enjoy the story, journey and spirit of Burt Munro. And believe me when I say, you will never look at Lemon trees the same again!!
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