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World's Fastest Indian Movie Opens Nationwide

New movie starring Anthony Hopkins opens across the U.S. and Canada, to tell the story of New Zealander Burt Munro and his pursuit of a speed record with an unlikely tool, a 40-year-old twin-cylinder Indian motorcycle.
By Art Friedman

The World's Fastest Indian starts on New Zealand's South Island and follows Burt Munro's struggle to run for a speed record on Bonneville's Salt Flats in Utah.

It could well be the best motorcycle movie in decades. The World's Fastest Indian, starting Anthony Hopkins, lovingly recounts Kiwi Burt Munro's pursuit of land speed records at Bonneville Salt Flats. The result is a wonderful movie, more so because it tells its tale without villains, violence, or conflict—except for the struggle of an endearing man from southern New Zealand to go an almost unthinkable (in the 1960s) 190 mph on a dry lake in America with a 40-year-old motorcycle that was never designed to go over 60 mph.

Much of Munro's early efforts to get his Indian to go fast are told by the collection of fragged parts against which the opening credits are set.

Though somewhat fictionalized—for example, Munro's multiple trips from southern New Zealand to Bonneville are combined into a story of a single quest for a speed record—the basic character and attitude of the man seem to be quite close to reality. That's because producer/ director Roger Donaldson (Sleeping Dogs, No Way Out, Cocktail, Cadillac Man, Species, Thirteen Days, The Recruit) actually knew Munro and made a documentary about his final crusade to Bonneville.

Motorcyclists will enjoy this scene, set on a New Zealand beach, where Munro answers the chanllenge of local yahoos who don't believe his ancient Indian in as rapid as he thinks, and certainly no match for their up-to-date Brit bikes.

Thirty years later, this film became a labor of love for both the director and his star (who say they never would have believed they'd work together after making The Bounty in the 1980s). The story is as much about the endearing, eccentric Munro and his ability to charm strangers into participating in his crazy quest as it is about making a collection of 40-year-old and homebuilt mechanical bits and age-cracked tires masked with shoe polish (which Munro actually did) go such an improbable speed.

Sir Anthony Hopkins became a bit of a motorcycle enthusiast during the making of The World's Fastest Indian. He says he enjoyed the role after playing villains and rogues so much. New Zealanders tell us that he nailed the Kiwi accent.

Unlike other motorcycle movies, this is one that you'll actually want to take your family (PG-13 rated) and friends to see. Instead of wondering if you are like the misfits that they see in other motorcycle flicks, non-motorcyclists might actually come away feeling some of your enthusiasm for motorcycling, as did Hopkins. They'll certainly enjoy themselves and leave the movie grinning.

The movie opens in the United States and Canada without the hoopla of major releases in theatres around the country. It shows on about 80 screens starting Friday, February 3, with more to follow. It will depend on word of mouth for many people to hear about it, and we suspect that many of those mouths will be motorcyclists'.

If you aren't convinced that you want to see it, check out the trailer. For trailers, and other info about the movie, visit The World's Fastest Indian movie site. If you are interested in the story of Burt Munro, visit Indian Motorbikes for the history behind the movie. You can find many reviews of the movie (mostly quite favorable) including this one at sister-site MotorcycleCruiser.com.

Source: Motor Cyclist
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