World's Fastest Indian

Burt Munro was a sweet, unassuming, eccentric old man. He lived in a concrete-block shack, in a mess of a yard, in an otherwise neat suburban street in Invercargill, New Zealand/Aotearoa. He shared his shack with his great love, his ancient souped-up Indian ‘motorsickle’, and he was a man in a hurry – to get to the perfect conditions at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, US, to set a speed record before he ‘popped his clogs’.

A biopic about an odd guy on an old bike might not sound appealing, especially as writer-director Donaldson and Anthony Hopkins, who plays Burt, have too often churned out slick Hollywood hokum. Here, though, Donaldson returns to his roots to make the kind of film that decades ago first fired him to become a filmmaker. Hopkins, too, keeps it wonderfully real. As the ordinary-extraordinary old man who lives in his own mechanical world, but who’s wise, witty, generous and warm-hearted, he shows what a great character actor he can be.

This is a feel-good movie with a huge heart.

mag cover This article is from the March 2006 issue of New Internationalist.
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