DVD review: Parallel World series by Nick Sanders

Nick Sanders has achieved seven global navigations and countless other motorcycle trips and records. He’s ridden through almost every country in the world and has regularly done it against the clock, but the trip chronicled in the Parallel World series of three DVDs is more reflective and insightful than some earlier ‘against the clock’ films.

Riding round the world in six months is still a major feat and one I’d rather complete in three or four times as long, but because Nick doesn’t appear to function at the pace of mere mortals, the film he has produced looks as though he has had all the time in the world. You’d imagine a huge production team had been involved but it hasn’t. The direction is his, the camera work, and all decisions on cinematography, some of which, especially in South America is simply stunning.

The three DVDs each have a distinct tone. The first, which inevitably covers intro and some planning, contains more urgent riding and background music, certainly until he has left Europe. It follows his route from London, through the Middle East and across the very challenging Nubian Desert in Sudan. It also features some excruciating video blog moments with passing strangers, where he attempts to have a laugh at their expense, always based on the rather condescending maxim that as they can’t speak English he can say what he likes to get a smile.

The second disc has more interesting interviews with people he meets, particularly in South Africa and India, investigating social and environmental responsibilities and the concepts of community versus wealth in ‘developing’ countries. He experiences some of his toughest riding in northern Kenya and revels in the verdant beauty of Ethiopia.

The abuse his Yamaha R1 shrugs off is astounding, over road surfaces which are incredible and if the bike or the ride is what you’d like to watch this for, you won’t be disappointed. Yes, it’s a machine not many people would choose for such a trip, but is proof that whatever is parked in your garage can take you a long way. However, the cinematic shots and the celebration of landscape, especially in the third disc (through the Americas) are so good you’ve got to constantly remind yourself that he travels alone, or very occasionally trusts a stranger implicitly and just hands them the camera.

A running theme is his reflection on what it means specifically to travel by motorcycle and how that ‘biker’ bond transcends cultural difference, ably illustrated by those genuine souls like Eric the Argentinian on his Jawa 350. Nick ruminates on the sheer joy of riding and is unapologetic for that joy, invigoration and sense of freedom every rider gets on every trip, no matter the distance.

The most refreshing element of the Parallel World series, is that none of it apes the modern videographic tendency to spend two thirds of the time reminding the viewer what they’ve just seen and urgently saying what’s still to come. Other than a route map and the opening credits, the footage on each disc is unique.


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