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The World’s Fastest Indian

September 1, 2015

TWFIFeel-good true story of an ageing biker’s attempt to on the world speed record.

Themes: determination and trust in weakness.

Determination – all his life Burt has wanted to do something big. He needed determination to keep his youthful ambition alive up to this relatively late stage in life.

Trust in weakness – Burt has neither age, health, affluence nor modern technology on his side. Yet his strength of character will stand him in good stead.

Defying the odds – chances of winning are decidedly slim, no matter how determined or trusting Burt is.

Burt and Rusty (a serviceman who has hitched a ride) arrive at the salt flats. Burt tells him that all his life he has wanted to do something big and that this is the place where such things happen. Rather like Moses before the burning bush, or perhaps people entering a church, Burt recognises that he is on sacred earth, complete with its own gallery of ‘saints’ who have broken speed records here before him. This, he says, is holy ground. In an earlier scene we saw Burt’s workshop inscribed with the words ‘Offerings to the God of Speed’

Burt’s only justification for these feelings about the place is by apealing to its association with earlier pioneering heroes. This, for Burt, is the dwelling place of the God he worships. Ask everyone if the sense of wonder and awe that Burt has for Bonneville connects to somewhere equivalent for them.

Ada, on whose farm Burt gets help in fixing a wheel, takes him up to her husband’s grave. Burt offers his philosophy that life is like a blade of grass and that when you’re dead, you’re dead. Suddenly he is nearly killed by a rattlesnake. Psalm 103.15–18 almost matches, word for word, Burt’s philosophy that human life is like the cycle of a blade of grass. It grows naturally and gracefully before gradually declining and dying

Deafness, angina, shortage of funds, an unawareness of the ways the world conducts its business, old age – yet Burt remains a visionary with a tenacity which age and weakness does not diminish. Many of the Bible’s heroes of faith were late developers. Abraham was 75 when God first called him on the journey that led to the founding of the Jewish nation and a special relationship with God (Genesis 12.1–5).

Burt Munro: If you don’t go when you want to go, when you do go, you’ll find you’ve gone.
Frank: I see your front tires gone a bit flat on ya there Burt.
Burt Munro: Oh yeah well the good news is its only flat on the bottom.
[last lines] Burt Munro: Nice to be home. Back in my shed…

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