The World's Fastest Indian
—2. Cast and Crew
—3. Photo Pages
—4. Trailers, Clips, DVDs, Books, Soundtrack
—5. Posters (Anthony Hopkins)
—6. Production Notes (pdf)
—7. Spiritual Connections
—8. Presentation Downloads
The film opens with a shot panning a shelf filled with what looks like junk – pieces of metal that we can’t quite make out their shapes. Under the shelf are the words “offerings to the god of speed.” These are engine parts that have been made and rejected by a man who has made his life’s work the goal of going as fast as possible on his forty year old motorcycle. There is a sense in which the film is the story of this man’s following this god of speed with all his heart and all his strength and all his being.
Burt Munro is an aging eccentric who lives in a shed surrounded by weeds (which his neighbor constantly complains about), urinates daily on his lemon tree to fertilize it, and spends all his time rebuilding his antique Indian Scout motorcycle trying to make it constantly go faster and faster. His life’s dream is to take it to
Burt has given his life over completely to the god of speed. He is not just a mechanic tinkering with the engine. He makes all his own parts in rather unorthodox ways. He has turned his life over to this machine as he molds it into what will give him that ultimate speed.
Burt is something of a holy fool – one who, in the pursuit of their god, acts in ways that seem strange and foolish. In many ways, he is an innocent. He has no guile. What you see is what you get and what he sees is what he accepts.
A good part of the film is Burt’s pilgrimage from Invercargill at the southern tip of
When he finally arrives at Bonneville, we can see that for him this is holy ground. He looks at it with wonder and enters into the “worship” (Speed Week) with full abandon. There he meets still other followers of his god. They are a community that supports one another as each strives to find their way to the god of speed.
Even here, Burt is seen as a bit of holy fool. He’s too old. His bike is too old. He doesn’t understand the way things are done. Yet, they bend the rules to give him his chance, figuring he really doesn’t know what he’s doing and will have a run and be happy. Burt, however, is a true believer – in speed, and in himself. And his faith is well founded.
The World’s Fastest Indian is a nicely done feel good movie as we watch Burt strive to overcome whatever obstacles there are to reaching his goal. At one point he quotes (or paraphrases) Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.” So it is with Burt Munro as he searches to satisfy his god of speed. He must be in the arena to do as best he can. Only then will he know what his life has meant.
But isn’t that the way it is with whatever god we seek to follow?