Thursday, 17 March 2016

Dream Racer

Triumph included a link to this on their email newsletter, so I gave it a whirl on Vimeo.  At nearly $9 it's an expensive (48 hour) video rental compounded by some stuttering even with fibre at home internet.  Looking at the code it looks like Vimeo segments the video to prevent copying.  Those segments kept stalling on transition, which is pretty frustrating, especially when you just paid a premium price to see it.

I like Charley, but he
wasn't the guy to see
this through
Technicalities aside, the film itself is very engaging.  It isn't just about a run at Dakar (like Charlie's was).  The man making the film, Simon Lee, is in his thirties and feels like his dreams of making a film are ebbing away under the pressures of middle aged life.  The man trying to go to the Dakar, Christophe, is a former North African motor-cross champion who failed to complete the Dakar the year before.  He is a skilled rider, but spends all his time in a suit and tie doing business and trying to drum up the money to get himself to the race.  The expectations of middle-aged life are barriers in both men's struggles.

When desire conquerors
circumstance you get a
better story
You'd expect a fully financed, technically supported, off-road experienced forty year old rider coupled with a Dakar veteran mentor and a spare rider to hand you his bike when your's breaks to finish the race (he didn't).  You'd not expect a single thirty-something experienced racer who has to turn his own wrenches and barely managed to find a bike and get enough money to attend the race to finish (he does).  What matters more, financial support or the will to succeed?  This film sheds light on that question.

Along the way you get to see the Dakar without the money lenses of sponsorship.  This purer Dakar hearkens back to the beginnings of the race (a good documentary to watch about this is BBC's Madness in the Desert).  But you don't have to suffer through poor footage from amateurs to see this raw Dakar.  What you get is video shot by a guy who knows how to shoot video and edited by an expert.  The whole thing is then wrapped in an original soundtrack that supports and nurtures the narrative.  If you're used to watching half-assed video of motorcycle based adventure, this isn't that.

A teary conclusion is well earned, and stirs up deeper
philosophical questions around media dilettantes & the
committed racer...  
When you get to the end and everyone is in tears you'd have to be a robot not to share that feeling with them, and it's not all just about Christophe's race either, it's also about Simon's journey as a documentary film maker.  Both men defy expectations and pursue a dream at great personal expense (emotional, physical and financial).  It's the kind of story most of us who live in a world that doesn't give a damn about what we dream of doing can relate to.

If you enjoy a quality, motorcycle themed film, this will do it for you.  It's well shot and brilliantly edited and musically scored.  The filming is such that you get to know Simon and Christophe who are both painfully honest in front of the camera.  The narrative (aided by that brilliant editing) takes you from introductions, to desperate attempts to source the money and prepare for the race and then tosses you into the Dakar without the antiseptic third person corporate perspective you usually see it from.  By this point you're emotionally invested in both men's journey.

I recommend this film.  I only wish I could have ordered the DVD for a few dollars more and been able to watch it without the interruptions and technical headaches.

When a film leverages the Dakar to raise questions around commitment to challenge through skill and determination,
and does it well, you've got a winner.

Christophe riding injured.  As long as he is conscious, he isn't going to stop - remarkably sympathetic to his machine as well.

A naked Dakar bike, personally paid for, no corporate spin; not what the modern Dakar is about.  It would be nice
to see the money around the Dakar put a bit aside to ease the entry of privateers into the race - they make for better
stories than the stone faced, well paid professionals.