Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Flying Scotsman

I Wanna Go Fast!

The Flying Scotsman is a formula sports biographical movie, based on the book written by a champion cyclist Graeme Obree. As with sports biopics like Cinderella Man and The World's Fastest Indian, Scotsman tells the story of the underdog's triumph against himself and his adversaries through innovation in technique, technology, and of course, perseverance sprinkled with grit and determination. But of course, like A Beautiful Mind, there are inner demons that have to be worked out, before assailing to the summit.

Graeme Obree (Jonny Lee Miller) is a bike enthusiast who works as a courier and owns a bike shop. Life's pretty plain, until he inspires to break an aged old World Hour record for longest distanced pedalled on a bicycle. But record breaking is an expensive ambition, and he realizes that aerodynamics will play an important factor. What I liked about the movie is to witness his keen observation and experimentation at work, to design the perfect sports bike, and riding techniques which some of us would have observed on television in the 90s.

Thus the movie begins charting the ups and downs of his career, starting with his built from scratch and from spare washing machine parts bike affectionately called The Old Faithful. It's something that man and machine, when united seamlessly, is able to go the distance. But of course, what I also liked is perhaps the stereotypical boardroom suits, of the powers that be, who are dead set in making life difficult for Obree, introducing absurd rules, regulations and terms in order to upset the spirit of innovation, and maintain their absolute control over the sport.

There are some moments which seem to mar the movie, despite understanding that they have to be introduced to give our on screen character more than one dimension. Struggling with injustice from the past affected Obree's EQ, but a good support structure in his wife Anne (Laura Fraser), manager Malky (Billy Boyd) and good adviser Douglas (Brian Cox), it makes a constant reminder that no man is an island, and that with good people supporting and believing in you, that's one of life's greatest gifts.

The theme track is excellent in itself, but unfortunately, none can replace the contemporary classic theme composed by Vangelis from Chariots of Fire. The track scenes though do get repetitive, but that's the nature of the sport - on the track, and usually alone when breaking records. When up against an opponent too, you're on opposite ends of the track, so there is no such thing as a photo-finish moment. Recommended movie despite its formula, if you're in need for some perk up when you're feeling down and low about yourself.

You can read more about Graeme Obree here.

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