|Here is a little review I wrote about that film|
The Worlds Fastest Indian
Currently running in the theaters is a movie about Burt Munro, who spent a few decades of his life refining an old Indian motorcycle. He ended up capturing in 1967 and holding to this day the world landspeed record for streamlined motorcycles under 1000cc's. Burt spent a few decades of his life working on and refining his old Indian motorcycle and living in a small shed which was his workshop and home. He worked without regard to peoples skepticism of his ability or disregard for his goals. He dreamed his whole life of riding his bike full throttle on the salt flats in Utah. For a past his prime hard working middle class New Zealander, it was a far off goal. The movie focuses on the trials he faced actually getting his bike to speed week and the weird characters he met and situations he was thrust in. In reality I have no doubt that the challenges faced that formed Burts life were the decades he spent working on it and overcoming mechanical problems and the anticipation he felt behind the fork of a 20 year old bike at 200 mph mostly built by his own hand; challenges that far outrank the silly adventures he faced actually getting to the salt flats. As usual we are assumed to be uninterested or too stupid to understand engineering challenges, or even find enjoyment in them. However popular shows like ER, House, the Apollo 13 series, From Here to the Moon, etc, tell great stories that combine the challenges of humanity and the challenges of technology. While I enjoyed this movie immensely, I think it could have been a lot more.
As a person who has spent years designing and trying to a build a motorcycle which is radically different than pretty much every motorcycle out there, this film does hit a special chord with me. Even though we only get hints of the struggles Burt faced, and enjoyed, with his machine, I greatly empathize with his struggle. When he pours his own aluminum parts in the shed, I remember my struggles with my aluminum kiln, singed hair, burnt arms, foul smells and all. I laugh when he cuts the tread off his tire, to make them more high speed friendly, something I am doing with the rear tire on my prototype to round it better. When he rolls his bike out of the garage one early morning as the sun rises, I understand the joy he must feel at a moment like that, a moment I long to have in the near future as well. A moment which is a unification of all my efforts and ideas manifested physically and held to unforgiving reality for validation. Seeing another man achieve a lifelong goal is a wondrous and very spiritual event. In that, this film is very inspirational for me, being a concretization of the positive culmination of a lifelong struggle to achieve and create. This man did something very similar to what I want to do, with apparently little help and often even derision. But he still did it, and all those things seemed irrelevant to him.
Anyone who wants to understand how much of our lives these things can become to us lone designers / builders might want to check out this movie.