The World's Fastest Indian


Sep 1, 2003
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I see that this is going to get a bit of a run around the world from December so it's probably about time I finally drop a quick review . . .

Its a drama. It's slow. It's quite good.

Sir Anthony Hopkins actually looks to be enjoying himself playing something other than cannibalistic psychopaths and other nut jobs, this time portraying the real life back yard inventor Burt Munro who in '67 set a land speed record for a sub-1000 cc motorcycle that remains unbroken to this day. It's not hard to see why. In life Munro was a likable old tinkerer and according to the surviving family members Hopkins' Munro nails the man almost perfectly. On screen he is at once amiable and occasionally naive with a typically Kiwi can-do attitude thrown in for good measure. The only thing missing is a perfect Southland accent which Hopkins' mostly pulls off in fine fashion, with a few odd deviations here and there.

On one hand this a film about a man, on another it's a film about Kiwi ingenuity. The idea of people being inventive to overcome limited resources is as quintessentially Kiwi as you'd ever see and beautifully realized in the figure of Burt who makes his own racing tyres (using the neighbour's carving knife to slice tread from regular tyres), uses the asbestos lining from an electric blanket for a thermal leg protector and stops his motorcycle's petrol tank with a brandy bottle cork. My favourite application of inventive science was the petrol can solution to demands to mow the lawn and subsequent puzzlement over the arrival of the fire department.

Other people to look out for:
Aaron Murphy who plays a kid next door. Four films and counting. I've shared the screen with him on two of them and think he's got a look and a presence that could really take him places should he choose to pursue some acting work.
Tim Shadbolt who appears in three scenes early on. A real life character himself who was once elected mayor of Waitamata from a campaign run from a Daimler towing a small cement mixer. He's now Mayor of Invercargill, Burt Munro's home town.

Overall, World's Fastest Indian is a very slow paced film with a long build up to moments of triumph. I'll give it 4 stars rather than 5 because of the way it squanders its time in the middle reels with daliances between Burt and a few too many temporary characters. These diversions serve well in showing who Burt was, but some of them are fairly redundant. Having said that it's also worth saying that once he reaches Bonneville the storytelling becomes practically flawless and leaves the audience with the all-important satisfactory ending. :)
had an opportunity to see a free screening of it a couple weeks ago...

reeeaally wanted to...

but couldn't. :/
Just watched it. Great movie (IMO hopkis' best performance!)

I highly suggest it.:up:
New Zealands 15 minutes of REF (relative international fame) is up.

Noone wants to spend 2 hours watching a senior citizen in a toboggan or whatever the hell he drives in that movie.

don't anybody take that in a hostile way, I was pretty much Joshing. NZ has like one of the top 5-10 populaces on Earth in terms of not annoying everybody and what not.

but I still won't see that movie.

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