Friday, March 24, 2006


True story

In 1902 the Indian Motorcycle Company of Springfield, Mass. started up production. By the outbreak of World War One, it was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, producing over 20,000 bikes per year. At one time there were more than twenty other US competitors but the Great Depression forced many out of business and only two survived: Indian and Harley-Davidson.
Both companies supplied large numbers of motorcycles to the military during World War II, but Harley-Davidson managed to negotiate much better contracts, and Indian was left perilously cash-poor by the end of the war. To make matters worse, new management decided that the best bet was to trim the product line and develop others. To fund the engineering of the new models, management borrowed heavily. The new bikes proved to be failures because they had been hastily engineered and badly produced. The company ceased operations in the early 1950’s.

Although he never visited the area, the Bonneville Salt Flats are named in honour of Captain B.L.E. Bonneville, whose expeditions in the 1830's proved this was part of an ancient basin. During the last Ice Age, about 15,000 years ago, Lake Bonneville was the size of present day Lake Michigan. Each winter, a shallow layer of standing water floods the surface. In spring, the water slowly evaporates while winds smooth the surface into a vast, nearly perfect flat plain.
Since 1914 hundreds of speed records have been set and broken in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes. Speed trials are scheduled throughout the summer and fall. The annual Speed Week is usually held in mid-August. Most events are open to the public. Located on I-80 near the Utah-Nevada border, Wendover is the closest city.

Anthony Hopkins: Burt Munro, mechanic/tinkerer living in Invercargill, New Zealand
Aaron Murphy: his neighbour’s son, Tom
Annie Whittle: Burt’s girlfriend Fran
Chris Williams: Tina, night clerk at a Los Angeles motel
Paul Rodriguez: Fernando, used car salesman
Diane Ladd: Ada, widowed owner of a junkyard
Christopher Lawford: land speed record holder Jim Moffet

Teenagers probably won’t relate all that well to an old geezer who sets about to fulfil one of his dreams (in fact, his only dream). But to the rest of us this fact based film is entertaining (even if you’re not a motorcycle race fan) although a bit too long. The acting is uniformly good, with Anthony Hopkins at his best.

for brief language, drug use and a sexual reference.

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