A BIG SID REVIEW
Format: letterbox video; Running Time: approximately one hour
Credits: Photographer: Rupe Whiteman; Editor and Producer: Pip Whiteman;
Director: Matthew Whiteman: Score: David Sinclair
"Chasing Shadows" is a remarkable documentary detailing one of the most storied marquees in motorcycling. The spine of the film is a sequence of excerpts from interviews with individuals intimately connected with the legendary Vincent motorcycle. The material is arranged to convey the history of the various models beginning with the pre-Irving designed bikes and progressing through the Series D. The pleasure for the knowledgeable viewer (that's you good folks) lies in the intangibles of this method of narration: the facial expressions, witticisms, and the odd heretofore unknown bit of lore divulged by the informants. For instance, I loved watching Vincent Employee Bob Clements describing the Works in '29 and life without power tools, Dierdre Vincent-Day recollecting her father's smile at the memory of his first ride on the Series B, Alan Rennie profiling the typical Vincent customer, Ted Davies recollecting when he told Vincent that he preferred the Rapide's unpainted cases to those of the Black Shadow, and so forth.
Around the spine of these interviews, the Whitemans construct a captivating assemblage of vintage film (color and black and white), vintage photographs, advertising material, and contemporary profiles of Vincents and their owners. Breath-taking black and white footage of a pre-war TT and wonderful color footage of an early Daytona race are clear stand-outs. However the centerpiece is fabulous footage of the May 52 Montlhery record attempts. The final element in this mix are film portraits of a Series A twin and a Black Shadow at rest and at speed at the MIRA test track in Warwickshire, joined on the run with a Gray Flash, a Lightning, and an enclosed D.
In an article in the February 2000 issue of "Classic Bike" detailing the MIRA outing, director (and Black Shadow owner) Matthew Whiteman comments that "Making the film has been my labour of love for the past two-and-a-half years," and the finished piece captures his passion. David Sinclair's original score is evocative and pleasant, reminiscent of Satie. Rupe Whiteman's camera work is precise and professional, without any indulgent odd lighting or distracting angles. Pip Whiteman's editing is equally artistic and economical. The audio is clear and rich: music, voice, and motor sounds are all mixed into a balanced soundtrack.
All in all, "Chasing Shadows" is a wonderful addition to the Vincent canon. It isn't a homespun rally tape such as "The Mild Ones"; rather, it is an elegant documentary that captures the mystique of the Vincent. If you don't buy a copy you will no doubt get a chance to view one at a rally or a section meeting. But my question is why on earth wouldn't you want your own copy to have at home so that you can watch it one winter night when you are in need of a pick-me-up. Go on then-you'll be glad you did!
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