My son and I went out the other night and saw Dana Brown's new movie and homage to off road racing, "Dust to Glory." Long time desert racer and co-worker Carlo Caya stopped me at work and said "You gotta go see this movie while it's in town." He was right.
Dust to Glory covers the running of the 2003 Baja 1000 off road race and gives a look inside the world of two and four wheel off-road racing, both amateur and professional. Past greats like Malcolm Smith and J.N. Roberts are seen then and now and current heroes like Robbie Gordon are featured too.
Seeing the then-and-now footage of J.N. Roberts was great fun and I'd bet good money that he could still clean the clock of most younger riders. Guys like Smith and Roberts were super fast when they were young. Now that they are old and decrepit they are only really fast.
Dana Brown is the son of "On Any Sunday" and "Endless Summer" film maker Bruce Brown and the family connection definitely shows. The style of Dust to Glory is very much in the form Bruce Brown's movies and Dana Brown's voice and narration sound almost like his father's right down to the slightly corny humor. I even spotted a line or two that could have been lifted right from "On Any Sunday." No problem there, OAS is the single greatest movie ever made and Dana Brown is entitled to lift from his old man if he feels like it. If you're going to copy, copy the best.
I like the Bruce Brown style of movie, it gets across very well the idea that sometimes ordinary people are extraordinary and that maybe we all could be our own kind of extraordinary if we have the guts to give it a go. Dana Brown's movie, Dust to Glory, is a worthy kin to his father great movie "On Any Sunday" (unlike OAS's bastard child "On Any Sunday II").
The action footage in the movie is good and at times riveting and over all the production values are way above the Windows Media Player quality of the MotoGP flick, "Faster." Too much footage in Dust to Glory was spent on helicopters flying around though, so much so that it began to bring to mind scenes from the Viet Nam era movie "Apocalypse Now." I could almost hear Malcolm Smith saying "I love the smell of a two-stroke engine in the morning. It smells like victory!"
One thing I really appreciated in Dust to Glory was a sound track of actual music instead of the deathmetalgrungescreamerangstridden crap that backs up many movies these days (Yeah, my old grouchy fahrt side is showing again). Note to you guys making your own bike movies at home: There is music besides the incomprehensible screaming stupidity that passes for rock & roll now. Be creative, be brave, chose music interesting and different from everyone else's choice.
I think Dana Brown tried to fit too much story into too small a space, consequently Dust to Glory does not rise to the level of OAS in story clarity or drawing you into the stories of all the different riders and drivers. A look at fewer racers and more depth about who they are and where they came from might have made you care a little more about their successes and failures.
The story of Mike ''Mouse'' McCoy's solo ride of the entire 1000 mile race would have made a great movie all by itself and is probably the best part of the movie. I was impressed. The longest desert race I ever rode was 100 miles and that about killed me (100cc Bultaco with 4" of rear suspension travel).
Dust To Glory is playing in limited release around the country so if you get a chance to see it on the big screen, do it 'cause it's definitely worth the price of admission. Not only that, if we all go see racing movies maybe they will make more!