Written, produced and directed by Roger Donaldson, The World’s Fastest Indian is an amazing movie that shows us that perserverance and determination can overcome huge odds. The fact that it’s centered around a motorcycle is simply a bonus.
“All my life I’ve wanted to do something big.”– Burt Munro
Anthony Hopkins stars as eccentric motorcyclist Burt Munro in a truly inspiring tale about one man’s attempt to make his own history at the hallowed grounds of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, Munro manages to weasel his way to Bonneville from his native New Zealand with nary a dime to his name, eventually etching his name as one of the richest characters to ever turn a wheel on the salty surface of Bonneville.
Hopkins portrays the aging Munro as he trudges away in his board shanty in New Zealand, much to the dismay of his agitated neighbor who over the years has grown tired of Mr. Munro working on his Indian Scout at the crack of dawn and peeing in his back yard, right below his kitchen window every morning for the past decade. He doesn’t mow his lawn and he doesn’t have much money, but what he does have is priceless.
The amusing anecdotes of this aging racer may be lost on the neighbor but they are not lost on the neighbor’s young son. This boy likes to spend time in Munro’s garage, working with him on his bike while soaking in the endless stories and bits of wisdom the old man passes his way. It is this sage wisdom and unflappable determination that makes Munro lovable and irritating at the same time.
The movie draws you into the world of the charismatic Munro as fate is beginning to shine after a half century of eluding him. He finally gets the opportunity in the closing stages of his life to race his bike at Bonneville, something he has long dreamed of. But the question is: Is it too late? Is this dream just the mindless prattle of an aging oldster? Or, does he know what he’s talking about, because he sure sounds like he does.
The journey to America is only the beginning of a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles that prove to be merely bumps in the road for Munro. Eventually, the crusty old Kiwi gets a shot at his record in front of an encouraging but disbelieving crowd. The film is hurt only slightly by claiming Munro broke the 200-mph barrier even though the fastest two-way run he ever officially achieved was 183.586 mph, a speed record for Indian-powered motorcycles that stands to this day.
If you have ever succeeded where someone else said you would fail, if you have ever done what someone said can’t be done, or if you have ever secretly supported the underdog at some point in your life, then you must see this movie.
On my second viewing of the film, I brought along a friend whose understanding of motorcycles is nearly nonexistent. And they loved TWFI. “I thought it was like a condensed version of Forrest Gump,” he told me afterward.
Whether you are a motorcyclists or a non-motorcyclist, I am sure you will agree that The World’s Fastest Indian is easily one of the best movies of 2006.
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