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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
World's Fastest Indian, The (Blu-ray) (2005)

World's Fastest Indian, The (Blu-ray) (2005)

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Released 3-Nov-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary
Short Film
Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 126:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roger Donaldson
Icon Entertainment Starring Anthony Hopkins
Iain Rea
Tessa Mitchell
Aaron Murphy
Tim Shadbolt
Annie Whittle
Greg Johnson
Antony Starr
Kate Sullivan
Craig Hall
Jim Bowman
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $34.95 Music J. Peter Robinson

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English 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 World’s Fastest Indian is a sweet, albeit at times syrupy, formulaic film starring Anthony Hopkins as grizzled Kiwi, Burt Munro. Based on a true story, Munro is an eccentric backyard-tinkerer from the South Island, with a passion for old motorcycles. Munro's dream is to travel to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, and set a new land speed record on his heavily modified 1920 Indian Scout. Indian is obviously a labour of love for co-producer, writer, and director Roger Donaldson, who originally made a documentary about Munro in 1971. In seems that since then, Donaldson has hoped to bring Munro's story to the big screen. The result is a feel-good film, that's often funny and touching. Indian was originally released on DVD by Magna Pacific in 2006, with its 2.35:1 aspect ratio presented in open-matte 1.78:1, but Indian is now available to enjoy in high definition, in its original theatrical aspect ratio on Blu-ray.

    Although his attempted Kiwi accent never convinces, Hopkins is excellent as the eccentric and endearing sixty-something crank, Burt Munro, obsessed with his much loved and heavily modified 1920 Indian Scout. Set in the 1960s, as mentioned above, Munro's dream is to travel to "Speed Week" at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, and set a new land speed record. Munro lives in a shed in Invercargill, New Zealand. At first it seems that Munro's only friend is the little red-haired boy next door who idolises him. Fortunately, the annoyingly cute kid clichés are avoided, and Aaron Murphy is great and believable as Munro's young fan and assistant. As he tinkers with his bike, Munro shares much of his personal wisdom with the boy, and in doing so, begins to charm us as the audience.

    This aspect is very important to the film, as Hopkins manages to make the charismatic Munro very likeable - without appearing to try. This is important as the film relies heavily on a series of coincidences and plot contrivances to move the story forward. Being charmed by the character ourselves, we happily overlook some of the film's contrivances and can believe others too would happily assist Munro in his quest. Indeed, throughout the film Munro often has to rely on the good will of strangers he encounters, ranging from a campy transvestite working in a motel (Chris Williams), to other kind-hearted folk, including a used car salesman (Paul Rodriguez), and a lonely woman (Diane Ladd). When Munro arrives in the US, we are treated to a fish-out-of-water tale, as Munro battles big-city bureaucracy and scepticism. Now turning into something of a more traditional road-movie, along the way Munro seems to gather supporters in his quest, and other motorcycle enthusiasts soon take on his cause, as the film builds to its surprisingly exciting, nail-biting climax.

    Indian may be and syrupy and sentimental, but it’s also a thoroughly enjoyable triumph-against-the-odds, underdog biopic.

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Transfer Quality


    David Gribble’s cinematography for The World’s Fastest Indian is excellent and the High Definition transfer is of good quality. It has been mastered in 1920 x 1080p, using AVC MPEG-4 compression.

    The High Definition transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in a native 16x9 frame. This is the film's original theatrical ratio.

    The sharpness of the Blu-ray disc's picture is good. The black level is good, with true deep blacks, and the shadow detail is also good. The transfer's colour perfectly captures the look of the original film, such as the grey, overcast Invercargill days, contrasted against the blindingly bright desert vistas of Utah. The flesh tones are accurate.

    While there is some fine film grain noticeable at times, which is common in Super-35 productions, the cause lies in the source material. There are no problems with the transfer in regards to MPEG, film artefacts, or film-to-video artefacts.

     Only an English subtitle stream is present. The English subtitles are accurate. Interestingly, the subtitles are positioned on-screen under the character speaking, and are colour-coded. Having watched a few subtitled foreign films lately, where the subtitles can be confusing as to who is speaking, I found this a useful feature.

    This is a BD-50 (50 GB Blu-ray disc), with the feature is divided into 22 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The World’s Fastest Indian boasts a great sound design, and the BD's audio is of good quality.

    Originally released theatrically in Dolby Digital, dts, and SDDS surround audio, there are two audio options on this BD:  The feature is presented with the options of English 5.1 dts HD Master Audio and standard English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Despite the extensive use of ADR, the dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent throughout.

    The musical score is credited to J. Peter Robinson. Although his orchestral score is a touch melodramatic at times, it superbly underpins the action and emotion of the story.

    With a great sound design catering for the roar of motorcycles, the surround presence and activity is good. The rear speakers are used effectively to provide ambience throughout. The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively throughout, with a strong LFE track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The World's Fastest Indian was originally released on DVD by Magna Pacific in 2006 with a collection of extras, many of which have been ported to this BD release. With last year's DVD release from Icon, the film was presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio, but all the extras were removed. The BD offers the best of both world's - the film's original aspect ratio, and a collection of interesting extras:


    An animated menu with audio.

Audio Commentary

    Indian is obviously a labour of love for co-producer, writer, and director Roger Donaldson, who provides a chatty, screen-specific commentary packed with many anecdotes.

Offerings To The God Of Speed (26:22)

    This is director Roger Donaldson original 1971 short film about Burt Munro. This extra is presented in standard definition, with Dolby Digital stereo in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It includes interviews and archival footage of the real Burt Munro.

On the set of the World's Fastest Indian (30:12)

    This extra is composed of interviews with cast and crew, and behind-the-scenes footage. It is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

Deleted Scenes (4:03)

    Presented in standard definition, in a letter-boxed 1.33:1 aspect ratio, there are four deleted scenes from the film.

Interview With Roger Donaldson (60:17)

    Also presented in standard definition, in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, this extra is Kiwi TV presenter, Paul Holmes, interview with director Roger Donaldson.

Southland - Burt's Town of Invercargill (2:54)

    An odd addition, this is a short NZ tourism promotional film for Invercargill. But if one considers that the Lord of the Rings and Narnia films alone have increased foreign tourism to NZ by over 200%, it seems NZ tourism has realised the potential for films to drive 'set jetters' to their shores.

R4 vs R1

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

    Shot on Super-35 film, the major difference between the two releases is that the 2007 US Blu-ray release of Indian has honoured the Donaldson's request to alter the film's theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio to open-matte 1.78:1 for home-video release. Also, a relatively early Blu-ray release, their video was encoded with the much older, DVD-era, MPEG-2 compression, whereas ours uses the AVC MPEG-4 codec. There was also a release of Indian on the now defunct HD-DVD format.


    The World’s Fastest Indian represents the best kind of feel-good film that unashamedly tugs at your heartstrings.

The video quality is very good.

The audio quality is also very good.

The extras are genuine and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, May 03, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSamsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)

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