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May 7, 2007 | by  | in Film |
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The Flying Scotsman

When walking into the theatre, it was hard to get excited about this film – which follows the true story of famous Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree. The road for sports movies isn’t an easy one and there have been many dismal failures in the past. However, I was surprised to say that – despite the slow pace and mediocre suspense – this film provides great insight into the life of a man who was, and continues to be, an inspiration to many.


Not being familiar with the world of sport myself, I don’t know how accurate the story is. It tells how Obree, unemployed and financially struggling, came out of nowhere and broke the 1993 World One-Hour record. Designing the bicycle with his own two hands and building it out of scrap (which included parts of a washing machine), Obree went on to become World Champion several times over. The film shows how he struggled against racing officials, who seemed intent on never letting an amateur take the title.

The fact that cycling is not considered the most thrilling sport in the world may put you off going to see this film. The pace is slow and the suspense rather flat. Even so, the director somehow manages to keep the audience’s attention, even in the scenes where all you see is a man cycling around in a circuit, over and over again.

I was surprised to hear that many of these cycling sequences were shot with Obree himself. The very fact that Obree is still alive may serve to explain the haziness around his mental illness, which remained somewhat unexplained.

Despite minor bumps in the road, the acting, storytelling and directing all successfully show the heart and the energy that went into telling the story of this incredible man’s life.

DOUGLAS MACKINNON

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