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DVD Review: Long Way Down

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As an ardent admirer of Ewan McGregor, actor-activist-biker-crooner-extraordinaire, I’ve been following his recent motorcycle journeys with best friend Charley Boorman with particular interest. In 2004, they traveled around the world, from London to New York City, and filmed their adventure in the documentary Long Way Round. The doc aired on the BBC initially as a series and on Bravo here in the States (there was also a book released to correspond with the show as well) and it gave viewers an inside look at the both harsh and pleasant realities that the pair faced when biking across countries such as Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The series was enthralling to watch; you really felt as if you were a third rider in their journey.

Having enjoyed the experience, McGregor and Boorman decided to have another go and in 2007, they traveled from Scotland all the way to Cape Town, South Africa in Long Way Down. While working for UNICEF the pair had visited South Africa and decided that their next bike trip should allow them to explore Africa as much as possible, in the process dispelling the stereotypes that are so often associated with the continent, which they also previously did on Long Way Round.

As with that series, Long Way Down does a terrific job of engaging you right from the very beginning. Because McGregor and Boorman are good friends, their chemistry and general love for each other makes them incredibly charming and likable. Although the adventures that the two of them embark upon are interesting, they are what keep you watching all throughout the series. This time around we see them travel through Rwanda where they come face-to-face with the famous mountain gorillas, ride alongside the pyramids in Egypt, and once again tackle harsh dirt, sand, and mud roads as they slowly make their way to their final destination. Unlike Long Way Round however, this time around the pair are joined by McGregor’s wife Eve Mavrakis for a week toward the tail-end of the trip. Mavrakis had never ridden a motorcycle before and trained especially for the trip to join them on their African journey. Initially her presence was seen as something that could possibly interfere with the duo’s dynamic, but the reality is altogether different as she is a welcome distraction to the all-male perspective that we are usually shown.

The DVD itself is a must-own. Not only does it feature an additional documentary as well as bonus footage galore, but it also contains the last episode of the series (and two more) that most US viewers never got to see. Long Way Down aired on FOX Reality Channel and while I did watch the show courtesy of my DVR, several episodes, including the final one, were mysteriously never recorded (comments on FOX’s Website for the show indicate that there was some mishap on their part). Regardless, getting to watch the whole show from start to finish on DVD is really the ideal way to watch the series as the sense of adventure is all the more palpable. You don’t have to be a Ewan McGregor fan to fully enjoy Long Way Down—you just have to be adventurous.

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About Lily Percy

  • Great stuff for any moto fan. Traveling on a bike brings a whole new experience to traveling, especially in exotic locales. Both of these DVDs are well worth watching if you enjoy motorcycles and mototravel.