The World's Fastest Indian: Collector's Edition (2005)

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Released 7-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Roger Donaldson (director)
Booklet-Collector's Booklet
Deleted Scenes-Four
Featurette-On the Set of the World's Fastest Indian
Short Film-Original 1971 Documentary - Offerings To The God Of Speed
Featurette-Paul Holmes - Interview With Roger Donaldson
Featurette-Southland - Burt's Town of Invercargill
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 121:47 (Case: 127)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:10)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roger Donaldson
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Anthony Hopkins
Craig Hall
Iain Rea
Tessa Mitchell
Aaron Murphy
Tim Shadbolt
Annie Whittle
Greg Johnson
Antony Starr
Kate Sullivan
Jim Bowman
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $32.95 Music J. Peter Robinson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The New Zealand film industry has certainly enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years with several films making a huge impact around the world, most notably Peter Jackson's unequalled Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Joining Jackson among the upper echelons of kiwi filmmakers have been the likes of Andrew Adamson with Shrek and The Chronicles of Narnia and Jane Campion and her early 1990s Academy Award winner The Piano. Another kiwi enjoying a pretty successful time on the international stage is Roger Donaldson (though he's actually an Australian by birth and now resident of the USA, Donaldson has spent many years in New Zealand). His films include the likes of big-budget Hollywood films such as Dante's Peak, The Recruit and Thirteen Days, but for his most recent effort, Donaldson chose to return to his roots to make a film about a topic he has obviously held close to his heart for several decades.

    In 1971, the then 26-year-old Donaldson made a short documentary about an eccentric old man from Invercargill in the deep south of New Zealand and his pursuit to go as fast as possible on his motorbike. That early film was called Offerings To The God Of Speed and the subject was kiwi eccentric Burt Munro.

    Forward to 2005 and Donaldson finally has the funding to tell a story he has obviously wanted to for a very long time and one that he is particularly fond of. The result is an absolute gem of film, one that tells a tale of a man driven by passion and an unwavering need to do something with his life. The World's Fastest Indian stars Sir Anthony Hopkins as the eccentric Burt Munro, a man who never let the dreams of youth fade, despite the fact he is pushing 70. Hopkins makes the role his own and was apparently so good at impersonating the garrulous Kiwi that he had Burt's family in tears when they first saw him acting.

    Burt is a dreamer - but unlike many he actually does something about turning his dreams into reality. Purchasing his first Indian Scout Motorcycle in 1920, Burt spends the next four decades tinkering, altering, rebuilding and reshaping the bike into something the original manufacturers would probably not recognise. Originally only able to hit a top speed of around 60mph, Burt has rebored, recast and restroked the engine so it is now capable of throwing this ungainly looking motorbike down a straight line at close to 200mph!

    But unfortunately for Burt, there are not too many places in New Zealand that allow him to open the throttle up fully (there's just a few too many mountains in the way). So in the early 1960s, after a near lifetime of tinkering, dreaming and saving his pennies, he finally takes the plunge, mortgages his property and heads off on a ship with his bike to America. Their final destination - the world famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah - miles and miles of near endless salt flats where Burt's bike can finally get the run it deserves and Burt has the chance to break the world land speed record in his category of bike. This film is the story of how Burt gets himself off to the US, manages to get himself on the road to Bonneville and what happens when he gets there.

    It's pretty obvious from the opening frame that director Roger Donaldson is making a film about someone who he held in especially high regard and respected a great deal. Burt is universally loved by every character he meets along the way, from the Invercargill townsfolk, the crew of the rundown old ship that takes him to the US, and the half-dozen oddballs he meets once in America, including the trans-sexual motel clerk, the shonky used car salesman, and a widow he meets in the bush who needs a little cuddle or two. It's a story told with affection and warmth, but without any sycophantic sentiment thrown in. Sure it's a bit twee at times - not everyone could really be that nice -especially in the US, but it's still a great ride and one that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

    With a domestic box office of more than $NZ6million, The World's Fastest Indian is now officially the number one New Zealand film of all time, knocking the mighty Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider from top spot.

Thankfully this really enjoyable and important film has been given the right royal treatment in its transfer to DVD.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced. IMDB lists the film as being shot in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but from watching the film and the extras I think this might be an error. There does not appear to be any awkward framing or lost information. If anyone can confirm how the film was shown theatrically I'll update the review accordingly.

    This is a relatively sharp transfer, with enough detail to please even the fussiest viewer. Edge enhancement is a non-event and there are no shadow detail problems. There is also no low level noise.

    The colour palette is uniformly excellent with many of the garish 1960s colours superbly rendered. Skin tones are well defined all round and there are deep, solid, consistent blacks and no problems with bleeding.

    There are no apparent compression artefacts. There are very small number of film artefacts present, though they are not in the slightest distracting.

    Sadly there are no subtitles present. This is a major oversight and something we should not have to put up with in this modern age.

    This is a dual layered disc that is RSDL formatted. The layer change is located at 63:10 and is placed to absolute perfection.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks on the disc, these being English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtracks, plus a Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary track. Naturally enough the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was my preferred listening choice.

    This is a pretty decent track that engaged well offering clean and effortless range. For a relatively modest budget film I was pleasantly surprised with a soundtrack that packs a bit of a punch when needed. Thankfully dialogue is excellent, despite the wildly differing accents (from Southland of New Zealand to the wild west of the USA) with no audio sync issues to report.

    The score is effective and pulls on the heartstrings when required. It also sets the mood of 1960s America quite nicely.

    There is significant surround use, especially once the action moves to the salt flats at Bonneville.

    The subwoofer gets plenty of time during the speedweek trials at Bonneville where all manner of high-octane performance vehicle is on display.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Audio Commentary - Roger Donaldson (Director)

    This is a pretty decent commentary track from the director where he outlines the history of the film and his lengthy involvement with Burt Munro stretching back several decades. Lots of Burt stories and anecdotes which makes it worth a listen.

Booklet

    A nice 12 page full-colour collector's booklet that contains a few nice photos plus a few film facts.

Deleted Scenes

    There are four deleted scenes that run for a total of 4:03. They don't add a whole lot to the story so the reason for deletion is obvious.

Featurette - On the set of the World's Fastest Indian

    A healthy 30:12 making of featurette containing plenty of behind-the-scenes action, interviews with the cast and crew and no real sign of promotional fluff. Definitely worth your time.

Short Film - 1971 Documentary - Offerings To The God Of Speed

    This rough little gem is probably the best extra on the second disc and runs for 26:22. Director Roger Donaldson had a long association with the real Burt Munro and in his early filmmaking days in 1971 produced this short documentary about the man and his motorbikes. Watched immediately after the main film, this gives a fascinating insight into how good a job Anthony Hopkins did of capturing the essence of Burt Munro's character and shows that many of the lines of dialogue in the film can actually be attributed back to Burt himself. Most certainly worth a look to see how well researched the main film was.

Interview  - Paul Holmes - Interview With Roger Donaldson

    This is the major extra found on the Region 4 disc not included on the Region 1. It is a very healthy, though at times a little rambling, 60:17 interview with director Roger Donaldson conducted by veteran New Zealand television current affairs presenter Paul Holmes. As expected there is a whole lot of material covered here with much of the director's career discussed and a few interesting and amusing anecdotes shared.

Featurette - Southland - Burt's Town of Invercargill

    Two mini extras, these can't really be described as featurettes connected with the film, but rather lengthy advertisements. The first is for the Southland Institute of Technology based in Invercargill - Burt's home town which features in the early part of the film. It runs for 4:47 and sees many of the college activities promoted, all arranged to a rather grating song. The second extra takes a more tourist-style approach to the whole Southland region of New Zealand, looking at the many magnificent natural and man made features the area has to offer. This runs for 2:54. One thing worth highlighting here is that it never seems to be raining in any of this footage - something I have experienced first hand to know that it does a LOT of in the region.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    My Region 1 version arrived a few months ago and came as a fairly nondescript single-disc release with completely different (quite uninspiring if the truth be told) artwork on both the cover slick and the disc. I'd have to say on the packaging quality alone, the Australian Region 4 disc is a clear winner, but let's take a closer look at the content differences to provide the full picture.

    The Australian Region 4 disc misses out on;

    The US Region 1 disc misses out on;

    Significantly superior and far classier packaging plus a couple of additional extras see a clear win to the Region 4 disc, despite the glaring omission of English subtitles. Remember though, this is the Australian Region 4 disc and I would be very keen to know if this is the same disc available across the Tasman. It would be easy to understand our Kiwi cousins being treated to an extra special release of what became their most successful film of all time. If I don't get any feedback from a Kiwi reader I'll be sure to pick up a copy when I visit New Zealand in late April '07 and I'll update the review accordingly.

Summary

    The World's Fastest Indian is the most successful New Zealand-made film of all time, knocking off the likes of Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors from that mantle - and rightly so. Based on a real person and real events, it is one of those films that probably stretches the truth just a little in an effort to ramp up the drama, but it is an inspiring and heart-warming tribute to one man and his passion. Anthony Hopkins is quite captivating as the eccentric motorcycle enthusiast, Burt Munro, a man you'll fall in love with, just like all the characters he meets on his journey to the Bonneville Salt Flats in his pursuit to push his Indian "motorsicle" as fast as he possibly can. Highly recommended for a great night's entertainment  - and the DVD isn't half bad either.

    The video quality of the DVD  is uniformly excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent.

    The extras are superb. Certainly one of the best bonus material packages released by Magna Pacific to date in this country.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-42PX600A 42" Plasma. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
re: Aspect Ratio - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.) REPLY POSTED
Kiwi release - Graeme Edgeler REPLY POSTED
original A.R.! always! - Anonymous
It was far better in 2.35 - Neil Lambess
aspect ratios - penguin (there is no bio)