“All my life Ive wanted to do something big… something bigger and better than all the other jokers” Burt Munro The World’s Fastest Indian is the stunning new film from NZ director Roger Donaldson. Anthony Hopkins stars as Burt Munro… the Southland motorcycle legend who rode his modified classic bike into the history books, against all odds. After a lifetime spent perfecting his Indian Scout motorcycle, Burt set a new land speed record in 1967 at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah at almost 185mph and had unofficial but timed speeds of 201mph on other visits.
It’s a record that remains unbroken to this day. On Tuesday the 30th of August I went to a special invite only screening of TWFI. After beer, wine and appetizers and having been instructed in no uncertain terms to switch off all cell phones and cameras for obvious reasons, the movie began. Even though I nearly fell over in despair when I saw a WLA parked outside the movie doors and not an Injin, that wasn’t going to deter me for long as I had been pumped with anticipation all day.. I wasn’t to be disappointed except when it ended two hours later, I didn’t want it too end at all!.
In two words here’s what everyone thought of it… “bloody awesome mate” okay three words then. Really I was quite taken by it. Okay maybe I’m a little biased having a soft spot for Burt (see other links above) AND being an Indian freak AND mad passionate kiwi but “The Worlds Fastest Indian” was funny, touching, meaningful, inspirational and visually captivating even if you have never heard of an Indian motorcycle or the bonneville salt flats before. Anthony Hopkins did an outstanding job portraying Burt and even ‘rolled his R’s’ well in the accent, something only the true Southlandlers possess. Southlanders, of which I originally am one, are folks from the bottom quarter of the South Island of New Zealand). During the more touching scenes in of the movie and theres several, I observed many a shiny eye in the audience and the ovation at the end and the duration everyone stayed in the theatre for the credits (despite needing bathroom calls for those pre screening drinks) is testimonial to the strength of the movie. It’s more about the man than the machine so, in short, this movie has all-round appeal for everyone, not just indian owners, petrol head racers or kiwis – take your whole family, GO SEE IT FIRST CHANCE
YOU GET and be sure to wear all your Indian regalia. Burt Munroe would be very proud, I was, rest in peace old boy.. “I think this is what the spirit of this film is about – the great passion of life that some people have” Anthony Hopkins “Burt is the sort of character I’ve never played before – upbeat. Not like some of those other guys. Most of the parts I have played are troubled, tortured, lonely souls – and I’m not like that at all” Anthony Hopkins “This is the best thing I’ve done… the best experience I’ve had ” Anthony Hopkins (and remember he was Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs! In 1971 Roger Donaldson and his collaborator Mike Smith filmed “Offerings to the God of Speed”, a documentary about the life of New Zealander Burt Munro, one of the oldest people to ever set a land speed record at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. This became the inspiration for this script 24 years later.. “I wanted to make an entertaining film without any compromises – an uplifting and inspirational story in the spirit of such films as Rocky, Billy Elliot and Chariots of Fire” Roger Donaldson I have been intrigued by Burt’s story for many, many years. Some would say my obsession with this film matches Burt’s obsession with his bike” Roger Donaldson “Its an amazingly visual location, it’s dead flat, its white, everything gets reflections on it off the salt, it has fabulous mountains in the distance the give it a sense of depth. The light continually changes as the sun moves across it until, at the end of the day, its sinks behind the mountains. I think there is nowhere else on this plane that comes close to it” Roger on shooting at the Salt Flats