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The life and triumph of Burt Munro, the elderly Kiwi man who, at the far from spritely age of 68, broke motorcycle racing records in Utah, has fueled director Roger Donaldson's creative energy for years. In the early 1970s, just a few years after Munro's incredible triumph, Donaldson directed OFFERINGS TO THE GOD OF SPEED, a documentary on the sensational senior. Here, with the help of the fine actors Anthony Hopkins and Diane Ladd, the director brings the story to vivid, dramatic life yet again, constructing a gripping and inspirational narrative.
Hopkins's Munro is a rich and magnetic character, a man who wears his notable physical ailments (which include an embarrassing prostate condition and deficient eardrums) like quirky idiosyncrasies rather than debilitating defects. An active playboy, Munro is a lovable character in his small New Zealand town, an attractively unique old man with a zest for life and a love of his vintage motorcycle--a bright red 1920 Indian model. After racing his own times obsessively every day, he becomes determined to live out his dream of participating in the annual Speed Week motorcycle event at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. Through local support and innovative fundraising, Munro is finally able to afford the long nautical journey across the world to Mormon-land and, beating all the incredible odds, not only enter the race but break its records with a jaw-dropping speed of 201 miles an hour. Besides telling a classic tale of individual triumph, THE WORLD'S FASTEST INDIAN offers a sociological look at the American West of the late 1960s, an iconic landscape peppered with colorful characters that include a wizened Native American and a generous drag queen, both of whom help the eccentric elder on his quixotic quest.
Theatrical Release: December 9, 2005
"Reunited with the director some 20 years after the two worked together on THE BOUNTY. Hopkins savors every bit of business as his Burt charms everyone in his path." -- Grade: B- - 12/16/2005 Entertainment Weekly, p.63-64
"This is a film that wears a smile button on its sleeve along with its happy heart. It believes that most people are absolutely wonderful, and it is well enough made so that a dusting of that dogged optimism is bound to rub off on you." - 12/13/2005 New York Times, p.E5
"Anthony Hopkins gives a super, understated performance; he never begs for sympathy as he disappears inside the crusty character." - 01/01/2006 Movieline's Hollywood Life, p.101
"[Q]uite irresistible, largely thanks to the most cherishable performance that Anthony Hopkins has given in years." - 03/01/2006 Sight and Sound, p.83
"[The DVD] exhibits a generally soft easy-on-the-eyes quality that is complementary to the period of the story." - 07/01/2006 Widescreen Review, p.72
5 stars out of 5 -- "[B]oth a hugely entertaining sports adventure and a touching biopic that will have you cheering at the screen." - 08/01/2006 Ultimate DVD, p.109