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on January 13, 2008
The Flying Scotsman seems to polarise Amazon buyers, and those expecting a rip-roaring cycle-racing story are clearly frustrated by the actual drama, which is of a driven individualist who, using a home-made bicycle (even using parts from a washing machine) breaks the world's endurance record in a time trial that had cyclists everywhere in awe. Who was this man we'd never heard of?

But the cycling exploits, which are as much about the loneliness of training and the head-butting frustration of dealing with sports officials, takes Obree to the point of suicide, and a long wrestle with manic depression. On this note, the film is unbelievably authentic, and there's a scene - actually when Obree is being feted by fans - when you can tell his brain has, what I'd say, "just slipped off the face of his own life."

What drove Obree? It was a painful lack of self-confidence instilled by years of bullying and by precious little help from his own father, a policeman.

As with many trues stories of depression, what anchors Obree is the support of his incredible wife, and the support of his small circle of loyal friends: here compacted into one joyous character who is like a beacon in the dour, overcast Scottish social landscape inhabited by Obree. This movie absolutely nails the realities of depression, and is one of the most honest small movies I've seen in a long time. Yeah, I wept.

If you're looking for an exciting cycle race movie, no, this is not the one for you, but if you want a movie that takes you into the sometimes dark world of the human soul, be prepared for one tough ride. The glory of this story is that Obree climbed out of the worst of his depression (he still battles with it) but in doing so in this movie he shows us that human achievement can often be quite detached from one's sense of personal success. As this inspirational story shows: a world record didn't satisfy Obree's demons.

Incidentally, for those who wonder: the film was made with Obree's own input, and he actually supplies the close-ups in the beautifully shot time-trial sequences.
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on August 27, 2007
I'm just home from enjoying one of the most exciting cinema experiences of my 51 years. As a recreational cyclist, and having trained hard and at least attempted racing, I knew that I would enjoy a film which focused on the life of a real athlete - rather than a fictional styling (Breaking Away) or one race (Hell On Wheels).

With 50% Scot blood in my veins I felt at home with the voices and scenery, but I found myself quickly intensely involved with the characters and swept away by the quality of the cinematography and the stunning surround sound. I've pre-ordered the DVD - but this is the very definition of big screen cinema entertainment.

In the late night screening I was lucky to have a whole row to myself - so no one witnessed my emotional gasps, or the times during the races when I was literally shaking with excitement.

I loved the way that Graeme's struggle with manic depression is given respectful depth - especially since his illness was an integral part of what drove him obsessively to achieve. Too few films deal effectively with the stress and reality of being bipolar. We need to see that he is loved, respected and supported as living with a mental illness, but also that he can accept polite active intervention.

This is a remarkable story - extremely well told. Full praise to all of the cast - especially Jonny Lee Miller, who looks and lives the part and to Brian Cox, one of Britain's greatest dramatic actors (see "The Lost Language Of Cranes").

I've read that the film is a more than adequate precis of Graeme's story, so I'm very much looking forward to reading his autobiography as well.
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on October 31, 2007
Professional cycling is a very demanding sport, and the hour record is probably the hardest of cycling achievements. Without the help of the peloton and unaffected by the elements, the cyclist must race alone against both the clock and himself.

This movie tells the story of Graeme Obree, who rose to fame by breaking this record. But instead of highlighting his superhuman effort, made even harder by his clinical depression, this movie reduces it to an "ordinary" Cinderella story.

It's fun and heartwarming to watch -- the acting, the cinematography and the soundtrack are quite good.

Some parts of the story, like the struggle between Obree and the UCI are wonderfully played, but watching the movie, I kept feeling that something is missing for me: the realization of how amazing Obree's effort was, and what a superman he must be, overcoming his illness and transcending the abilities of the human body, to a record of 52.713km in a hour.
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on September 15, 2007
I just got back from a trip to Scotland--my first visit--and saw this film on the plane (Virgin Atlantic). Fabulous movie! I'm not Scots or a bicycler, but just loved it--beautifully filmed, wonderful acting, a great movie experience. I can't wait to get the DVD and watch it again with my family. Unfortunately I saw it on a small screen on the plane, but it was still terrific. The original soundtrack was also excellent. It was especially nice watching this on a trip to Glasgow, where it was filmed. Highly recommended for the cinematography, great acting, sensitive portrayal of Obree's depression, and the personal relationships that help him to succeed. Suitable for kids over about 8 or 10 in my opinion, one little bit with bad language (the f* word, said once). Very original film.
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on November 8, 2007
One of the hardest nuts to crack in the genre of sports films is how to make a good film about cycling. Breaking Away got about as close as you can get, but that was really more about growing up and coming of age, and cycling was but the vehicle for the story. Graeme Obree's story is not only a cycling story, but a story about one of the most peculiar aspects of the sport - the World Hour Record and track cycling in general. I think the film did as good a job as possible at telling the story, and making it as accessible as possible to a wide audience without making cycling insiders groan with disgust. I think some cycling outsiders will be a bit stumped and confused by it. Apparently, much of the details of Obree's life are tweaked for the movie, which is unfortunate.

I was seriously annoyed to see that the Union Cycliste International and the various officials (Verbruggen?) of the organization that made Obree's challenge so miserable were not able to be named by name. I hope they were in the book, but I suppose the filmmakers had legal reasons not to name them. They were not even allowed to use the actual rainbow champion jersey that Obree won fair and square - twice. It is even worse in hindsight when you realize that at the same time that the UCI were hassling Obree, the sport was rotting from the inside with doping. What are your priorities, UCI?

The actors, Boyd and especially Cox, are excellent. As is Laura Fraser, who play's Obree's wife and embodied the spirit of the wonderful supporting spouses that stand behind and believe in so many athletes chasing a dream.
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on March 10, 2012
Bought this for my dad who is a cycling freak with seven different bikes and 20 different jerseys! I bought it used in "Like New" condition (which I recommend looking for). The price was right, there were no scratches, the disc played perfectly, and the case was in excellent shape.

This is a great, "based on a true story" type of film. A story of triumph and ingenuity. It features some good actors and decent cinematography (it's rated at 7.0/10.0 at IMDB). The Flying Scotsman is a movie for everyone, not just cyclists--but if you are a cyclist, I think you would thoroughly enjoy this movie even more.

It's pretty crazy how this guy built a bike out of washing machine parts and scrap metal that he used to break the world hour record in 1993. He challenged the accepted view of what bikes should be and how cyclists should ride during competition--some of the best parts of the movie are his comical clashes with the International Cycling Union who repeatedly disqualify him for his unconventional bikes and style of riding.

Whats more amazing about this guy is that he suffers from intense bouts of depression through his whole career, yet he still breaks records and takes numerous titles--all without anti-depressants and performance enhancing drugs!
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on March 19, 2014
Unfortunately Graham Obree has bipolar disorder which denied him the ability to continue the fight with cycling authorities who removed his record rides because his record setting bicycle didn't have the proper dimensions. His position was in fact superior to even today's record setters though is quite dangerous because of the unique position the rider. However, the vehicle had two wheels and was human powered and his records should have remained recognized. There's no doubt that others would have copied his achievements and who knows where it would have led?
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on December 22, 2014
I happened to come across this movie while channel surfing and was immediately drawn to the storyline about a man setting world records in cycling while fighting the side effects associated with "extreme bipolar disorder". I never heard of this individual nor have I read his book prior to seeing the movie, but I was completely drawn into this man's struggle with mental illness. In addition to battling his personal demons, he is harassed by neighborhood bullies and a cycling organization that sadly does all it can to defeat him before he even gets on his bike! After reading a number of the reviews the general consensus appears to be the movie fell short of the book. Not having read the book, I can only say I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I feel Obree is an amazing example of what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing in spite of overwhelming adversity. As a former competitive power lifter, I understand the personal sacrifice required to successfully compete in an individual sport such as this. I also understand all too-well what it's like to compete in a sport where everyone around you is using performance-enhancing drugs because they lack the intestinal fortitude to win through hard work. It seems everyone now days is taking drugs that have become so prolific on every level in every sport. This is a truly amazing story of one man's fight to overcome all the adversity that was dealt him and be victorious. What I felt was most shocking of all was the manner in which those making the rules for this sport behaved like children by making every effort possible to derail Obree from accomplishing his dream. Their adolescent behavior is juxtaposed against Obree's human spirit to win and it really shows how far some people have to go to overcome not only their own life challenges, but the challenges posed by others around you. What I found most satisfying was to see that Obree is still alive today, and with the help of mental health treatment has not only been able to live a more fulfilling life, but surprisingly still competes in cycling-related events. I recommend this movie as a great motivational tool for all!
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on December 2, 2007
I had to watch the film because Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings) was in it, and Johnny Lee Miller (Hackers). I was definitely not disappointed. This was a great film based on a true story about a Scotsman with drive to become World Cycling Federation champion. What I didn't know was he battled Manic Depression, which you almost don't quite see in the film until it beings to manifest itself more and more. Additionally, Obree battles the ever-changing rules of the WCF. It just seems form time he was a kid to even cycling he was always made to feel worthless, and he fought all the way. You can't help but root for the guy.

Brian Cox, Johnny Lee Miller, and most especially Billy Boyd, playing Graeme Obree's manager, did a superb job. This was a great film about beating the odds without the syrupy music. It was just great story telling all around.

Definitely recommended.
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on December 30, 2012
In 1993 a Scotsman by the name of Graeme Obree rode a bicycle 32.1 miles in a single hour, setting a world record. He had no sponsorship, no coaching, no training. The bike he rode was one he built, using parts cannibalized from his washing machine. He went on to win the world pursuit championship twice and reclaim the one hour record in 1995. And yet, he is little known. This movie documents those events and hopefully will introduce his feats to a much broader audience.

This 2006 movie is based on the book Flying Scotsman that Obree wrote in 2005. Capably directed by Douglas Mackinnon (predominantly a TV series director) Jonny Lee Miller plays Obree convincingly. Miller played Oren Goodchild in Aeon Flux but no one watched that. The dirty secret is that Obree has bipolar disorder and is prone to bouts of depression. The movie depicts childhood trauma that may have contributed to his disease.

The movie is captivating, suspenseful, and inspirational. One roots for Obree all the way, feeling compassion at his self-sabotaging behaviors. The bike scenes are well done, although, as a cyclist I don't think the grit needed and pain endured to ride flat out for an hour are fully conveyed. I'm not sure they ever could be.
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