Written by Clayton Self
Long Way Round is a reality show/documentary in which two actors, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, trekked 20,000 miles around the world on their motorcycles. They started in London, and headed east through Russia and other countries, caught a short flight to Alaska, continued down through Canada and all the way to New York. It was an idea originally conceived by McGregor as a best friend road trip, but turned into an international spectacle, as millions of people shared their experience via television. A…series that spanned seven episodes, documented their journey via cameras attached to their helmets, bikes and a third motorcycle driven by their cameraman, Claudio. Two support vehicles stayed a few hundred miles behind on the main roads to meet up with the guys at each border they crossed to make sure their supplies and medical needs were met.
The series is gripping, funny, and heartwarming, as we follow their 115 day trip over areas of land thousands of miles from mankind. They encounter bears, impossibly rough roads, rivers, lakes, bugs and motor accidents that challenge and push them to limits beyond normal. Ewen does most of the on-camera video diary commentary, while the action and challenges are seen in 3rd person from Claudio’s motor bike. Stunning are the landscapes they cross, while the people they encounter are both intriguing and frightening.
Besides a road trip, Long Way Round also provided an opportunity for McGregor and Boorman to contribute to the charity, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) in Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Seeing these parts of the world in a non-fictional way is moving and eye-opening.
The only track available on this two disc set is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, which is not room shattering, but very interesting because it allows for you to feel and hear the sounds that Ewan and Charley heard on their trip. You get the feeling, especially from the rear speakers, that you are actually out on this journey with them because the sounds just envelope you. Also, the bikes traveling down the road can be heard zooming across your room on the front speakers. When music plays, it really has a kick behind it. Overall, this was a fabulously entertaining mix.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format is gorgeous, perfectly displaying the rough look of a documentary in crisp, clear picture. The widescreen allows for the landscape to be seen in a glory that can only be described as the next best thing to being their. The contrast in each camera is well defined. The third person camera is of high quality, and never loses a minute of the action. The cameras on our boys bikes are grittier, but managed to stay well-defined, and the hand-held used for the video diary commentary is intimate.
The first disc includes episodes 1-3, which covers London, Prague, and Kazakhstan, and includes footage and video diaries not aired in the series. There is s marvelous photo gallery and a post-trip interview with the guys. Disc 2 covers episodes 4-7, which spans Mongolia, far-eastern Russia, Alaska, Canada, and New York.
This series is altogether marvelous. The challenges that these two endured are innumerable and indescribable. I admire their endurance, perseverance and courage. The show not only provides humor during commentary, but heart-stopping action and suspense as they encounter new challenges. The landscapes they cross are amazing, and it also gives insight into cultural history and lifestyle of other countries. I would highly recommend picking this up. From, the first episode I was hooked, and watched them all in one day. I couldn’t stop.
Special Features List
- Unseen material
- Post Trip Interview
- Cast interviews
- Photo gallery