The Great Escape: All I can wonder is why did I wait so long to see it?? It’s WW2 related plus it’s got motorcycles!! The movie is set in a WW2 prison camp where the prisoners (Allies – American + British) are treatly exceedingly well by the Commandant and German soldiers in the camp – a fact that just did not make sense to me throughout the movie. In hindsight I suppose it does make some sort of a twisted sense – the prisoners were POWs and not Jews. (It’s also a little sad to think of times of war when Americans were the good guys and looked up to by everyone as true heroes.) The Germans just want to sit the war out in the camp where it’s safe, while the Allied soldiers try their damndest to upset this idea by devising new and desperate ways to break out.
It’s a longer than average movie and inspite of the theme, it failed to hold my attention until Steve McQueen comes into the picture. Now here’s a man who personifies every Alistair MacLean hero I ever read about. He radiates charisma and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the scenes in which he appears. As for his motorcycling scenes where he did practically every stunt (he even played the German soldiers chasing himself on motorcycles :P) except for that timeless scene of him jumping the 12 foot tall fence toward the end of the movie, all I could do was go omg omg omg OMG. I believe this is where the last traces of my fascination with cruisers fell away – no away could I do any of the things he did on a cruiser!! (I am now obsessed with dirt bikes and enduros).
If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, there is no excuse to not watch this classic. And Steve McQueen… now there’s a man I would drag back to my cave. :P
Faster: While On Any Sunday, a very similar movie, didn’t really do anything for me, this one had me watching from start to finish with a mixture of awe and envy as I saw the limits to which a human can push a motorcycle. I really need to start watching MotoGP one of these days. Out of all the racers shown, I must admit I am more of a Valentino Rossi fan – everybody likes a winner, right? And here’s where I consciously made the decision to get a new bike that would be track-worthy.
On a personal level, I also couldn’t rid myself of this underlying feeling of anger at the thought that here’s a world that will never be open for someone like me. I wonder how many talented female racers are denied the opportunity to break into this world due to lack of sponsorship. :| This is one of the biggest reasons why after 5+ years of being a rabid Formula1 follower, I finally quit watching. I think it all started in some F1 rag I was reading that did a story on Jarno Trulli’s wife – a racer in her own right, who quit after a few years of trying to get a break. The writer of the article said something on the lines of – “she finally accepted that racing was a man’s world and there was no place in it for her”. And no, the writer wasn’t angry on her behalf, rather he was applauding her sensible decision to quit and settle down and be a good little wife.
The movie was splendid though, even if it was more of a documentary of sorts.
Long Way Round: I had expected this one to be a movie, but it turned out to be a reality tv show type thing, with Ewan McGregor and his buddy Charlie Boorman riding around the world on their motorcycles – starting from England, going through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, Canada, Alaska and finally winding up in New York. Unlike Faster, this one at least is something most of us motorcyclists can dream of doing somewhere during our lifetimes. You get to see past Ewan McGregor the moviestar and see the Ordinary Joe/Jill who gets giddy about motorcycles and is happiest in his saddle, going through strange places and meeting new people.
My respect for Ewan went up tenfold after watching this – he is so exceedingly funny and giggly, making fun of himself and his experiences and engaging the viewer every step of the way. He makes you giggle along with him and lays to waste the macho male testerone-laden image that the word motorcyclist usually invokes. Not to mention that he also makes a full beard and thick, black rimmed geek glasses look sexy. :P Oh, and I’m pretty sure that he’s read at least a fraction of the tomes of slash featuring him, seeing as there are references galore to the man-love between him and Charlie. I didn’t even have to read between this lines this time. :P
I was a bit disappointed to see that they had a big-budget backup crew help them across some of the stickier areas. I also wonder, why on earth would a guy like him want a FREE MOTORCYCLE from BMW?
Another plus of watching this – you will never again feel bad about dropping your bike. If Ewan can do it inspite of a TV audience watching, there is no shame in doing it yourself occassionally. Oh, and I finally learnt the correct way of getting onto a bike that has a huge pack strapped to the back – and trying to swing your leg over it is not it. :P
To summarize, I loved this entire series, until the part where they got to America, where it suddenly became much less exciting, and more of going through the motions to finish. In any case, watch this!