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DVD Review: The Flying Scotsman

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The thing about movies based on true stories is you can pretty much guess how it will end, even if you aren’t familiar with the people who inspired it. The underdog always comes out on top. These stories give us hope that our own average lives might somehow take a turn and be inspirational. These stories also show us the importance of working towards accomplishing our dreams; miracles won’t just drop into our laps. These stories also tell us there might be some nasty bumps before we find our happy endings.

Such is the truth of The Flying Scotsman. It is based on the real story of Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree. Not quite a rags to riches story, it follows Obree from being a cycling courier to breaking cycling world records with depression and suicidal thoughts thrown in the middle. The film is done well enough, though I am not sure it would be so compelling if it weren’t true. But fans of cycling and those who like any movie based on a true story will enjoy the film. The Flying Scotsman isn’t a bad film; it just fails to capture your emotions the way more successful inspirational sports films do.

But The Flying Scotsman, directed by Douglas Mackinnon, does provide a new twist in the big obstacle being suicidal tendencies. The cycling races in the film add to the feeling of despair because it was Obree on an empty track. Perhaps the obstacle didn’t present itself big enough or long enough to reel in the audience. Showing the madness to be deeper and darker might have helped us want him to succeed. The battles between Obree and the World Cycling Federation (based on the Union Cycliste Internationale) were interesting and perhaps could have been expounded upon. The film was too much of Obree’s successes with not much of his obstacles getting in the way preventing the true inspirational nature of Graeme Obree’s successes from coming through.

It is interesting to know that the real Graeme Obree was a technical consultant for actor Johnny Lee Miller (who plays Obree) during the shooting of the film and rebuilt some of his exceptional bikes for the production. Johnny Lee Miller also did most of the cycling himself with only a few of the biking shots being done by his double.

The DVD is scheduled to release September 18, 2007. It is dual sided with both Widescreen and Full Screen versions of the film on one disc. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 in English with options for subtitles in English, French, or Spanish. Three trailers (Beyond the Gates, Rescue Dawn, Death At A Funeral) are the only extra on the DVD. The film is 96 minutes and rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements and strong language.

The Flying Scotsman stars Johnny Lee Miller, Billy Boyd, Laura Fraser, and Brian Cox.

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