The World’s Fastest Indian — directed by Roger Donaldson. Sportsflick. A 68-year-old man shoots for the world speed record on a 40-year-old bike. 127 minutes Color 2005.
This is a children’s film. It is about a man who gets by on magical mechanics. On the surface of it, it is about a feat, and as such, like National Velvet, it is the story of a single person’s faith and pertinacity – and. after encountering many obstacles, in the end the individual shines through. But here the obstacles are all mechanical failures of one sort or another and they are solved by the mechanical genius of Burt Munro, our hero, with the help of persons he meets on the roadside. But that is not what really fuels the adventure and the story of this movie. That is not the real story. What it is really about is how all those folks on the roadside are actually charmed. By what? By the soul and spirit of Munro. And the movie is actually the story of that. It is not a story about an underdog or people’s rooting for an underdog. Rather, it is a story about people responding to the delighted life force, the élan vitale of a single person and joining up to help him because of it. To make this person we have Anthony Hopkins. He makes Munro deaf, odd, abstracted, full of jokes, and a certain shine. It is a perfect example of a star commandeering a story and making it understandable and more true, since, from all we are told, the actual New Zealander, Burt Munro, had this shine too, and in this film he shines through, not because of his mechanical magic but because of this very shine. It is one of Hopkins’ master-creations. He gives him joie de vivre, a happy heart. Everyone somehow is beguiled by this broken-down, keys-missing, upright player-piano. They drop the prison they are in to free him from his, because he is already free.