2005 - New Zealand - 127 minutes
Writer and Director - Roger Donaldson
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 8/10 - Link to IMDB
Roger Ebert Rating - 3 of 4 Stars - Link to Ebert's Review
My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars

It's been a while since I've seen a Reader's Digest, but I remember one of its standard features, "My Most Unforgettable Character." The hero of The Worlds Fastest Indian would most certainly be topic of that feature. Burt Munro was certainly a "character" and is a New Zealand legend.

The film is a dramatization of several months in the late 1960's of his extraordinary life in which he traveled to the Bonneville Salt Flats in order to attempt setting a land speed record for his 1920 Indian motorcycle.

We begin by seeing Burt - played by Anthony Hopkins - working in his workshop on parts for his beloved Indian and soon discover that his workshop is actually his home - a shed on a suburban lot covered with overgrown weeds. The appearance of his shed and lot - plus the noise he makes at all hours with his motorcycle - are somewhat of an annoyance to his neighbor, but we soon learn that he appears to be universally liked in his community.

Anthony Hopkins gives a more than excellent performance in portraying this man obsessed with his dream yet thoroughly likeable, somewhat innocent, and a little more than randy. Yes, he basically is "a dirty old man" but totally lovable in that guise.

In addition to Hopkins' endearing representation, the whole movie has an easy feel of an earlier, more innocent time. All of the people that Burt meets in his quest are people we would also enjoy meeting. This makes the whole movie a viewing of easy pleasure.

On the DVD, you are also treated to a lengthy documentary about the real Burt. Both the documentary and the film are a labor of love for director, Roger Donaldson, and that love shines on the screen.

Neil Turner
June 24, 2006

The World's Fastest Indian