This was the best movie of 2005.
I wish Anthony Hopkins would have been a part of the commentary track.
The World's Fastest Indian was the best film of last year. Sadly, it was released by a small company, Magnolia Films, so it didn't get the kind of fanfare that it should have. Interestingly, billionaire Mark Cuban owns Magnolia Films (which I believe is the theatrical arm of his HDNET Films) but it probably didn't seem like good business to put an Oscar campaign behind this movie.
This true tale of Burt Munro is an old fashioned road trip film that was marketed as if it was Days of Thunder. The main story is Burt's adventure as he travels from Invercargill, New Zealand to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. His goal is to "clock" his Indian (the name of his bike) in what isn't so much of a race, but of man's ability to create speed in their automobiles. Burt hits many bumps along the road, he has heart problems, very little money, his bike isn't up to the technical racing code but somehow Burt always overcomes everything in order to get closer to his goal.
The fact that Anthony Hopkins begins this segment by declaring "This is the best thing I've done" is certainly saying something. In a candid and interestingly personal way, this "making of" featurette takes us into the production process behind The World's Fastest Indian. It was also very interesting finding out how Donaldson had been able to return to New Zealand to make this highly inspiring film.
Four deleted scenes make up this section and they have titles like "Grantsville Station" and "Filler Up." While certain parts of these scenes didn't have the best audio, overall these looked pretty good and seemed like they were taken out of the final film; as opposed to just being thrown on here with their timecode and other information showing.
I thought this might be a documentary that the creators of this DVD put together to show Invercargill, New Zealand. Sadly, it's the kind of 2-3 minute travelogue that you might see on an airplane flight or something. There really isn't anything too special about it other than that it's bright and trying to show Invercargill's best side.
Commentary with Roger Donaldson
Roger Donaldson sits down to give us a very well spoken account of how this movie got made. He refers to an earlier documentary that he shot about Bill Munro (which is also on this disc), and also talks about the other actors and scenes in the film without telling us what we are seeing. I couldn't help but feel a little bad for Donaldson as I was watching this because this was such a solidly made, well put together film that just seemed to fall through the cracks.
Offerings to the God of Speed
Shot in 1971, we are given a first hand glimpse at the person about whom this movie is based. Lets just say that it doesn't seem like Hopkins or Donaldson embellished the character in the film much. Burt Munro is simply one of those people who is cut from a different clothe. He doesn't see age, ideas or surroundings as a boundary, all he needs are the things that can help him reach his goals. The old footage from this film really helps bring the man's many layers to the forefront.
1.78:1 - Widescreen. This film begins in a stylized way. It seems as if director Roger Donaldson was trying to show us Burt Munro in moving images that looked like pictures. Once the story got moving and we see who Burt is in his hometown and then he comes to America, I realized that the trailers for this film focused more on the actual racing than it did on it's story. The DVD transfer is superb and there is a clearness to the image that makes Burt's tale appear to almost jump off the screen.
English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitled in Spanish. The audio in this movie is the kind that gives all the events a certain "feel good" tone, however I never thought I was being manipulated or told how to feel. In fact, at so many points in this film it seems like Burt's mission is sunk, but he somehow always finds a way or someone to help him with his troubles. The audio does a very good job of complimenting this story.
As far as I remember, the shot of a smiling Hopkins with a his "Indian" underneath him on this front cover, was the same one sheet image that was used for this film's theatrical run. The back gives us three shots from the movie, a description of what The World's Fastest Indian is about, a special features listing, a cast list and technical specs. To make this movie seem like a racing film really takes away from the many other colors which shade it.
I have heard people say, "I hear that that movie's good but if Anthony Hopkins wasn't in it than it wouldn't be anything special." Okay, lets just say that that's true (which it isn't), if it was true, doesn't the fact that Hopkins is in 99% of the film sort of negate how that could be a problem? His performance in this movie can best be described as pitch perfect. Once again, this brilliant actor manages to hit all the right notes, without ever seeming like we're seeing a performance. In fact, that is Hopkin's brilliance as a performer. In each role he takes on it seems like he is experiencing things at the same time the audience is.
The World's Fastest Indian is certainly one to add to the collection.
The World's Fastest Indian was released October 12, 2005.