The World's Fastest Indian

The World's Fastest Indian

Infobox Film
name = The World's Fastest Indian

image_size =
caption = Promotional poster
director = Roger Donaldson
producer = Roger Donaldson
writer = Roger Donaldson
narrator =
starring = Anthony Hopkins,
Diane Ladd, Jessica Cauffiel,
Christopher Lawford
music = J. Peter Robinson
cinematography = David Gribble
editing = John Gilbert
distributor = Magnolia Pictures
released = flagicon|NZL December 7 2005
flagicon|USA February 3 2006
runtime = 127 min.
country = NZL
language = English
budget = $25,000,000
gross = flagicon|USA $5,128,124
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:316050
imdb_id = 0412080

"The World's Fastest Indian" (2005), is a film based on the legendary New Zealand speed bike racer Burt Munro. Munro set numerous land speed records for motorcycles with engines less than 1000 cc at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Many of his records still stand to this day.

The film stars Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins and was written and directed by Roger Donaldson. The film opened in December of 2005 to positive reviews [ [ The World's Fastest Indian - Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes ] ] and quickly became the highest grossing local film at the New Zealand box-office taking in $7,043,000; [ [ New Zealand box office Top 10] ] and taking in over $11 million overseas. [ [ The World's Fastest Indian (2005) ] ]


Burt Munro is a 67-year-old New Zealander who is obsessed with speed. He is a loner who lives in a bike shed on a vacant lot in a family neighborhood. He spends most of his time modifying his beloved 1920s Indian motorcycle, and occasionally racing it against modern opponents. The movie's plot revolves primarily around Burt attempting to follow his dream of setting a new land speed record with his Indian at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah.

Burt is loved in his community for his friendly and charming personality; and for having been featured in "Popular Mechanics" magazine (May 1957 p6) for having the fastest motorcycle in Australia and New Zealand. However, that recognition is contrasted by his exasperated neighbors, who are fed up with his un-neighborly habits: like urinating on his lemon tree every morning, neglecting his yardwork, and most of all waking up before sunrise to rev his bike.

Before Burt is scheduled to start his journey to the United States, he is diagnosed with serious heart problems and is told that his racing days are over. For 25 years he has dreamt of going to Bonneville and racing his Indian, so he ignores his doctor's advice to stay at home. Burt leaves for the United States, with most people doubting his ability to succeed, but Tom, the young boy who lives next door, believes in Burt.

When Burt arrives in Los Angeles he experiences bureaucracy, skepticism and coldness of big city people. It is his blunt but gregarious nature which overcomes each hurdle. He wins over the hardened motel clerk, a transgender woman named Tina, who assists him in clearing customs and helps him in buying a car. The car salesman allows Burt to use his shop to make a trailer and later offers him a job after Burt fixes one of the cars on the lot. Burt declines the offer, however, and shortly afterwards begins his long trip to Utah.

Along the way, Burt meets many people, including a Native American who aids him when his trailer fails, a woman named Ada who helps him repair his trailer and becomes his lover, and an Air Force pilot who is on a leave from his military service in Vietnam.

Burt arrives at Bonneville in time for Speed Week, but is initially denied participation because he has failed to register in advance and his 40-year-old bike fails the technical and safety inspections. After winning the sympathy of other participants and officials, Burt is allowed to compete. After some practice runs and fine tuning, Burt sets a new record of 201 mph on his official run. The movie ends with Burt calling young Tom to proudly announce that his bike is "The World's Fastest Indian".




The Australian Cinematographers Society awarded NSW based DoP David Gribble ACS the 2007 Milli Award for Australian Cinematographer of the Year for Cinematography on this film


* Director Roger Donaldson had been working on this movie for over 20 years before he started filming it.
* Donaldson decided to do this film after he had met Munro and had filmed a documentary about him.
* Munro was never known to befriend a boy next door, but the character Tom who befriended Munro and believed in him was intended to be representation of Donaldson when he knew Munro from years earlier.
* Tim Shadbolt, who played Frank in the movie, is the current mayor of Invercargill City and well known amongst New Zealanders for his smile and enthusiastic approach to seemingly everything.
* Many of the props used for filming were actually owned by Munro, including all the exploded pistons and the piston mold that Hopkins uses for a scene in the film. These were on display at the Southland museum and art gallery.
* Hopkins stated that Munro was one of the easiest roles that he has ever played in his career, simply because Munro's view on life was not all that different from his own.
* The empty section used as the site of Burt Munro's workshop was the headquarters for the Black Power gang during the nineties until the house burnt down in 1998. A house has been built on the section since the movie was made.

Fact vs. fiction

The film takes several historical liberties:

*The historical Munro married Florence Beryl Martyn in 1927, whom he later divorced. The couple had four children together. However, no mention is made of children in the film, but it is implied that he was married and either estranged or divorced.

*Munro in the film recalls the death of a twin brother named Ernie, who died when a tree fell on him. However, the historical Munro had an older brother who was killed when a tree fell on him. Munro also had a stillborn twin sister.

*The historical Munro had set numerous speed records in New Zealand during the late 1930s through the early 1970s. However, these records are only implied in the film.

*The Bonneville run in the film is a composite of several runs Munro made, the first in 1956. In 1962 at Bonneville, he set the record of 178.971 MPH.

*Munro's fastest complete run at Bonneville was 190.07 MPH. He never set a record of 201 MPH at Bonneville as the film portrays, but did reach 205.67 MPH on an uncompleted run, on which he unfortunately crashed. [ [ Burt Munro - A New Zealand Legend, The Munro Special ] ] Munro does crash after his 201 MPH record-breaking run, which is officialized unlike the 205.67 MPH run.

*Munro was never known to urinate on his lemon tree; film director Roger Donaldson added that detail as a tribute to his own father, who did.

*The May 1957 edition of Popular Mechanics (p6) has a letter to the editor about H.A. "Dad" Munro and his 1920 Indian Scout


External links

* [ "The World's Fastest Indian" official website]
*imdb title|id=0412080|title=The World's Fastest Indian
*rotten-tomatoes|id=worlds_fastest_indian|title=The World's Fastest Indian
*mojo title|id=worldsfastestindian|title=The World's Fastest Indian

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