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Just because we are locked in our home and our bikes stand still sadly in the garage it doesn’t mean that we can’t get away for a few hours … at least virtually! So we made a top 10 motorcycle movies.
During this particular period, where we are confined to our home, a feeling of helplessness and frustration mingle. Indeed, the days are getting longer and the temperatures are increasing. In short, bikers have pins and needles in the wrists. But then, apart from taking our pain in patience, there is not much to do. Also, we prepared a top 10 motorcycle movies, or at least our favourites. We hope that this list, by no means exhaustive or even necessarily objective, will allow you to get away from it all while staying in your living room. More than a ranking, it is rather a list of films that feel good or that have marked the motorcycle landscape!
The 80s were prolific for all mechanical enthusiasts of all kinds. Also, we were able to follow the adventures of KITT (Knight Rider) or even Airwolf. The American chain ABC, feeling that there was still room on the market, thought that a version with a motorcycle was missing. And this is how the show Street Hawk was created. It narrates the adventures of Jesse Mach in his fight against crime, faithfully supported by his Honda “XR 500”. This was actually a fictional model made up of three different models, the Honda XL500, the Honda CR250 and the Honda CX500, depending on the needs of the shooting. Although the initial idea was promising, the series stopped after only 13 episodes due to a lack of audience.
Originally published from 1982 to 1990 as seinen Manga, Akira is a series written and illustrated by Katsuhiro Otomo. In 1988, a science fiction film, adapted from the eponymous manga, was created. The film portrays a dystopia (note a dystopia is a fictional story depicting an imaginary society organized in such a way that it prevents its members from achieving happiness), namely the metropolis of Neo-Tokyo in 2019. Akira tells the story story of Shōtarō Kaneda, the leader of a group of young bikers, whose childhood friend Tetsuo Shima, acquires incredible telekinetic powers after a motorcycle accident, gradually threatening an entire military complex and the rebellion of the futuristic and sprawling metropolis of Neo-Tokyo.
A flagship movie of Japanese cyberpunk, very well received by the critics then, this animated film is still worth watching in 2020.
Some of you may already know this, but Scottish actor Ewan McGregor is also an avid biker. Long Way Round is a documentary television series, but also a DVD box set and a book which retrace the 31000km journey around the world undertaken by the actor and his epic companion Charley Boorman. On their BMW R1150GS Adventure, the two adventurers traveled 31,000 km, from London to New York, via Western Europe, Central Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia , Alaska, the USA, Canada to end in New York. All this from April 14 to July 29, 2004. Long Way Round is one of those documentaries that make you want to hop on your bike and go on an adventure, without having a destination in mind. In short, if you feel cramped in your living room, Long Way Round should give you some (fresh) air!
Note that after having shot “Long Way Down” (from Scotland to Cape Town), in 2007, the same protagonists shot “Long Way Up” in 2019, which traces their epic journey on two Harley Davidson Livewire (electric), from Ushuaia (Argentina) to Los Angeles.
The plot of this film is certainly not based on the motorcycle. However, we couldn’t leave him out of our selection. Firstly because the great Steve McQueen plays one of the main roles. Secondly because there is one of the most famous motorcycle chase scenes in the cinema, and above all a scene of a motorcycle jump, which is still considered today as one of the best stunts. Based on true facts, but partially fictionalized, the film narrates the collective escape of British, Canadian, Australian, Polish and American airmen from a Luftwaffe prison camp in 1943. Planned for 250 people, only 76 of them will manage to flee before the alert is given. Who will escape the Germans and how? And what will happen to the recaptured prisoners? You will have to watch the film to find out…
Broadcast in 2004 and carried by the talented Gael Garcia Bernal, Carnets de voyage (Diarios de motocicelta) is a biopic that narrates the journey through South America of the young Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Alberto Granado in 1952 (23 yo at the time). Throughout the journey and the meetings carried out throughout their journey, the social injustices and the misery they will witness will radically transform the young Che Guevara and contribute to forging his political opinions. Riding an old Norton 500cc nicknamed “The Vigorous” (the Poderosa in Spanish), the two companions will cross sublime landscapes, especially in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia or even Venezuela. In short if you want to get away from it all, while learning a little more about Che’s life, this film is for you!
So here’s now to the second half of our top 10 motorcycle movies.
If your thirst for the great outdoors is still not satisfied after the previous films, this time we will take you to India, and more precisely to Ladakh. Riding Solo is a film about the filmmaker Gaurav Jani’s motorcycle trip from Mumbai to one of the most remote places in the world, the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh, on the border of China. Jani riding solo, without assistance on his Royal Enfield Bullet 350CC and loaded with more than 300 kilograms of equipment / supplies, embarked on a journey on one of the most difficult terrains in the world. Take your breath, because we’re going to go up in altitude!
Another culte movie with another legend, Marlon Brando, The Wild One is an American film, released in 1953, which takes us back to the golden years of cinema. Considered the first film dealing with biker gangs, it was censored for many years, in the USA and elsewhere. This is the first film that will give this image of rebels to bikers. Note that it is largely thanks to this film that the manufacturer Triumph will be known in the United States, Marlon Brando riding a Triumph Thunderbird 6T.
Directed by Clément Beauvais and Arthur de Kersauson, and produced by another famous biker (Orlando Bloom), this film explores the renaissance of manual work through the fervor of motorcycle enthusiasts who have found their way to a happy life.
Shot in Super 16, Greasy Hands takes viewers around the world, with stops in France, the United States, Scotland, Spain and Indonesia. The cast is a roll call of big name builders: from American-based heavyweights Roland Sands and Shinya Kimura to controversial Europeans El Solitario and Blitz Motorcycles. In 2020, the film is accessible for free during the lockdown: here
On Any Sunday is another cult documentary film directed by Bruce Brown that passionately presents the history of motorcycle. With images that can sometimes seem kitsch, this film retraces the epic of the motorcycle in the USA, by depicting some of the great riders of the time, like Malcom Smith or David Evans. But it does not forget some amateurs, sometimes famous, like the great Steve McQueen, also called The King of Cool. Warmly received by critics (he was nominated for an Oscar), On Any Sunday remains, to this day, one of the best motorcycle documentaries.
So why Easy Rider trusts the first place of our top 10 motorcycle movies? It’s hard to say it’s the best film, it’s a matter of personal taste. But Easy Rider, directed by the awesome Dennis Hopper, and supported by the equally awesome Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson, is without doubt one of the most cult films. Becoming rightly the emblem of the hippie culture of the years 1960-70, this road movie narrates the journey of two young bikers, Wyatt and Billy, who, after a lucrative drug sale, decide to leave Los Angeles to go celebrate the New Orleans carnival. During their journey throughout the United States, on their legendary Choppers and in breathtaking landscapes, the protagonists discover the lifestyle of the hippie community, while having to confront traditional America. In 1998, the film was even selected by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for its contribution to the culture of the country. And icing on the cake, the soundtrack of the film is also exceptional and includes titles from Steppenwolf, The Weight, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
So this was our top 10 motorcycles movies. We hope you’ll like it, that it will foster you to discover some of those true gems, and mostly help you to wait until the motorbike season starts again.