Motorcycles? Meet 8 and 1/2 and Get Your Fellini On
Motorcycles were made to be filmed.
The inherent beauty of a motorcycle in motion is a perfect compliment to a medium which relies, at its most effective presentation, on imparting a sense of emotion through movement to a viewer.
Howard Hughes was this visionary who was obsessed with speed and flying like a god… I loved his idea of what filmmaking was.
Correctly utilized, the motorcycle is the ultimate platform for both the physical and emotional components of a good film. The motorcyclist carries with him or her a historical load of emotional resonance. The loner, the risk-taker the rider (and human) free from the constraints of the society which often seeks to grind down those impulses in the service of the mass mind.
A rider is, by definition and by association, a metaphorical constant. Seen as both hero and antihero, the vision of a rider atop a motorcycle implies a sort of insistence that life is so obviously fleeting that to travel without acknowledging – and confronting – the risks and joys inherent in the journey is to live by half measures.
And at no time are the risks and joys of life more baldy presented to a man than during those times when he or she is engaged in traveling at speed unprotected against the vagaries and happenstance of the road.
It boils down to this: no matter how much you may wish to believe some sort of “safe passage” through life is possible, that belief is an illusion. There is no memorable accomplishment or achievement or moment which does not include an element of risk, a quickening of the heartbeat, the rush of blood in your ears, the dilation of the pupils in pure astonishment.
Riding a motorcycle is not, as some would have you believe, an indicator that the rider has a death wish. Far from it. Those who ride have a life wish; a desire to feel the full blunt impact of existence outside the often unfocused and petty pace of getting from here to there without incident.
Riding a motorcycle provides that thrilling focus to anyone fatalistic enough to make peace with a simple reality. No one here gets out alive.
With deadly overexcitement,
The beetles reclaimed their field
As we clung, glued together,
With the hooks of the seat springs
Working through to catch us red-handed
Amidst the gray breathless batting
That burst from the seat at our backs.
We left by separate doors
Into the changed, other bodies
Of cars, she down Cherrylog Road
And I to my motorcycle
Parked like the soul of the junkyard
Restored, a bicycle fleshed
With power, and tore off
Up Highway 106, continually
Drunk on the wind in my mouth,
Wringing the handlebar for speed,
Wild to be wreckage forever.
– James Dickey from his poem Cherrylog Road