Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Last night I had some unexpected dental work - a filling had to be redone - and the procedure plus the double dose of novocaine pretty much knocked me on my ass for the entire evening. I pretty much had to retreat bed from 3pm on, so I just figured it would be a nice time to catch up on cable. Luckily I found "The World's Fastest Indian" on the guide - a film I've been wanting to see for awhile. The film tells the true story of Burt Munro, a retired "Kiwi" who's lifelong obsession was modifying, riding, and racing his 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle.

Anthony Hopkins (one of my favorite actors) plays Burt and he's a glee to watch. Here's a photo of Anthony as Burt. Originally the Indian was capable of 55mph but by the time Burt was done tinkering it, it had reached speeds up to 200mph. Burt manufactured his own parts and did all the work in his backyard shed. You don't have to be into motorcycles or motorcycle racing to admire Burt and enjoy the movie. The movie is about passion, obsession, and the power of dreams - AT ANY AGE! Burt was in his late 60's (and living with a heart condition) when he made his first record making runs at the historic Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. I'm pretty obsessed when it comes to my photography and my cameras (especially my Polaroids) so I really related to Burt's obsession. I've seen plenty of films about obsessed men who have made their dreams come true from "Tucker: The Man And His Dream" to the story of Howard Hughes told in "The Aviator," but what sets Burt apart from those two men is that he was just an average retiree living on a pension. At a time when most men his age were winding down, Burt had passion for his life and his Indian. He was a real character too, with lots of homespun New Zealand wisdom. The director of the film, Roger Donaldson, apparently was interested in Burt's story way back in the 1960's and did a short documentary about him, "Offerings To The God of Speed," a saying Burt had painted in his workshop on a shelf bearing a mix of old custom parts he had made over the years. Thanks to You Tube you can see this documentary. Burt lived life on his own terms and died at the age of 78 of natural causes. We should all be as lucky as Burt to have passion and obsession and dreams in our lives 'til the very end.

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