Saturday, November 03, 2007

DVD REVIEW: Long Way Round

2005 Documentrary
Starring : Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
Directed by: David Alexanian, Russ Malkin

I was intrigued from the start at Ewan McGregor, major and rightly so movie star, for wanting to undertake something so unglamorous as a round the world trip in bike. And being a big fan of the man, I made a point of checking out the ensuing DVD, expecting a bit of a bore still.

The first two episodes, which concern only the preparations and not the trip himself, left me physically and emotionally drained. The two adventurers, McGregor and his friend Charley Boorman (son of renowned director John Boorman) are human and devoid of hypocrisy or flashiness that it leaves you with nothing but their pure passion and investment in their quest. Such that from the get go I was swept along, and felt quite heavy-hearted when it was all over.

The basic premise of this series is that, as mentioned, McGregor and Boorman make a round-the-world trip on "motorbikes", from London to Russia, then with a quick plane fare pick up in Alaska all the way to New York. A third motorist accompanies them with a camera (a poor lad who confronts the same hardship as the two "heroes"), while a support crew follows in trucks on easier roads. What comes of it is anything but a Bike trip. It is a journey to the end of a man's expectation and understanding of himself and his planet. The things they see, people they meet and obstacles they overcome makes the viewer rediscover life with ever maturing eyes.

The visual quality itself is nothing short of an accomplishment, given the difficulty level of filming from a motorcycle in terrains that would bring any grown man crying on their knees. Breathtaking imagery and editing are equalled only by the most engaging and exciting soundtrack I have ever heard attached to a simple documentary.

Highly recommended to absolutely everyone. It plays not only as a documentary, but as a dramatic comedy as well as reality show. Quick tip for enjoyment - resist the urge to watch it all at once. It really IS draining. And for those who fall for it as much as I did, a second series has just started airing in the UK, called "Long Way Down", about this time a trip to South Africa.

5* out of 5

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