For twenty-five years in Invercargill, 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-movie question and answer session at the National Film Theatre in London, England on February 20, 2006, writer, producer, and 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 one hundred fifty miles per hour for some shots. As for his own exploits, Donaldson admitted that the highest motorcycle speed he achieved was sixty-five miles per hour. See more »
On the ship that Burt Munro uses to cross the Pacific in the early 1960s, the draft markings on the bow are in metric which wasn't introduced in New Zealand until the mid-70's. See more »
[rolling a distance gauge]
93... 94... 95... 96... 97...
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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.
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