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The World's Fastest Indian, written & directed by Roger Donaldson

The World's Fastest Indian, written & directed by Roger Donaldson
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Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Iain Rea 
Movie review by Movie Critics
Richard Parks and Roger Rohrdanz


Movie Critics

Richard Parks and Roger Rohrdanz

7 out of 8 Sparkplugs

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Richard: The movie, The World's Fastest Indian, stars Anthony Hopkins, directed and written by Roger Donaldson, from the 1971 book, "Offerings to the God of Speed," by Roger Donaldson. The movie is rated PG-13, with mild adult language, and running 127 minutes. It was shown in movies beginning in 2005, and the DVD was made available for sale on June 13, 2006. The movie runs for over 2 hours, but it seemed much shorter as the action moved effortlessly forward from New Zealand to Burt Munro's quest to race his motorcycle at the Bonneville Salt Flats, in Western Utah. It was disconcerting at first because the movie gave no background on who Munro was, where he came from, or how he got to where he was. Even the time of the movie wasn't given, and the viewer has to search for clues in the music, age of the cars, clothes and world events of that time.

Roger: The cinematography was excellent, and the reconstruction of the outdoors well done. The writing was thought provoking, though at times a bit forced, as if Hopkins, the main character, just has to spout another gem of wisdom. Having only seen previews of the movie, I recognized right away that Munro was not the "Indian," the motorcycle was! How did that bike get to New Zealand? That's one of several questions the viewer has during the movie. I have to admit this is trivial, but carguys are watching the age of the cars in the scenes. I don't know what year this is supposed to be but the newest car I saw was 1964, yet Vietnam and "Agent Orange" were mentioned, which is several years later.

Richard: Most writers will open with about five minutes of dialogue explaining the plot up to that point, then allow the action to keep the viewers informed. Since the targeted audience are car racers, many will already know a little about Burt Munro's life, or have met men similar to him. This movie opens with Munro working on his motorcycle, a 1920 Indian Scout, which Munro has been riding for a considerable time. The scenes with the neighbor's young son bonding to this old and lonely man are quite touching. Hopkins underplays his role as Burt Munro, allowing the real Munro to surface. Yet Hopkins is such a dominating actor that he controls the entire movie in the way Art Carney did in the movie Harry and Tonto, which won an Academy Award for Carney.

Roger: Hopkins won't win the Academy Award for this movie because Hollywood has moved on to giving the Golden Oscar to edgier and more tasteless crap. The supporting actors play their roles with a robust life, though a bit too predictable. The only actor who comes close to upstaging Hopkins is the rattlesnake at the cemetery, which forces the hero to confront the dangers of his adventure, and the meaning of his existence. I agree with you that Munro's character was not fully developed. Contrary to your thinking, Munro was obviously not "lonely." Everyone in town knew him, supported him and even had a dance to raise money for his trip to Bonneville.

Richard: Feel good movies rarely make a lot of money, or gain the credit they deserve from the box office or the critics, but The World's Fastest Indian is a keeper, and I think it will do better with DVD sales than in the movie theaters. Munro faces life's tragedies with personal courage, hope and passion, and succeeds against the odds. Some of the scenes had to be shortened and left unexplained, yet these flaws are forgiven because of the scope of the movie.

Roger: When he reaches Bonneville and is denied the right to run, the viewer leaps to the conclusion that "rules and regulations" are all that matter. It isn't explained to us that these rules and regulations were compiled because men lost their lives racing cars and motorcycles that weren't built and raced safely. Progress in any sport is always won with sweat, blood and tears. I wonder if in future years at Bonneville, the Indian passed "Tech Inspection?"

Richard: I felt the strength of the movie was Hopkins' interplay with a world he didn't understand. Even in his native New Zealand he had to prove that his madness had a purpose to it, and that his heroes were worthy of adoration. It is a road movie of sorts, a quest for the Holy Grail, to prove the warrior's soul is pure and his honor worthy. Hopkins elevates Munro into a true representation of EVERY man and woman, desperately following their own dreams to the end, regardless of the sacrifices.

Roger: The filming was superior, the dialogue brisk and true to the time period, and the acting was well conceived and emphasized the main character. A lot of information was left on the cutting room floor.

Richard: The racing scenes were some of the best ever done in any form of racing, and the terminology of racing was easily and deftly explained throughout the movie. I love Anthony Hopkins in anything. Here he was allowed to play an American version of a Shakespearean role, and he was magnificent. It's worth the money just to see Hopkins recite the phone book, but you also get outdoor scenes as breathtaking as they come, and action scenes that race your blood. On a scale of 0 to 8 perfectly timed sparkplugs, I give this movie a 7.

Roger: I enjoyed the movie, though the editing was a bit smudged. It will appeal to the hot rodders and those who love nostalgia, and the little inconsistencies don't bother me. I give it 6 out of 8 spark plugs and recommend it to those who love speed.

From the Producers

Academy Award Winner, Anthony Hopkins stars as Burt Munro, a man who never let the dreams of youth fade.

In the late 1960’s, after a lifetime of perfecting his classic INDIAN MOTORCYCLE, burt sets off from the bottom of the world, Invercargill, New Zealand, to clock his bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. With all odds against him, Burt puts his irrepressible “Kiwi” spirit to the test, braving the New World on a shoestring budget. Burt’s quest culminates in an unlikely conclusion and remains legendary within the motorcycle community to this day.

Pick one up today at your local video store !!