Back in 2013, I had the opportunity to take in the premiere showing of Mondo Sahara at Overland Expo in Arizona. Since then, the movie’s been revised and released to DVD, along with a soundtrack. Here’s my review of this updated DVD version.
Small screen adventures
When I found out I was going to get a chance to see Mondo Sahara at Overland Expo a couple years ago, I was pretty chuffed. I had thoroughly enjoyed previous Austin Vince films, and was excited to see his latest project. I wasn’t disappointed; I enjoyed the film, as did most of the folks I talked to after the show, but Austin Vince reckoned he could improve it, and he did spend a fair bit of time tweaking the film after the initial showing.
The result? Although it’s been updated, the film has the same focus as the original version I saw – DIY motorcycle adventure. If you’ve seen Mondo Sahara or Terra Circa, you know what to expect. There are no movie stars, big budgets or even big bikes here; Vince and Co. take on the Sahara desert with Honda XR400s, dispelling myths about adventure riding and cultural clash along the way. You can read more about the film’s plot here.
Watching the movie for the second time, I noticed how much practical “how-to” information a viewer could pick up by watching. While some people might not like the opening sequences where Vince gets outfitted by sponsors, it’s quite handy, as it shows you what’s necessary for a trip like this. You might not necessarily buy your equipment from Kriega, WeMoto or Forcefield, but the principles behind the gear selection here are universal, no matter what continent you’re riding on.
The same goes for the camping segments, as they show you can get by with minimalist gear. Even the sections showing the team’s mechanical repairs are useful, as they let the reader know what to expect when they sign up for a trip like this. You don’t have to be a mechanical wizard, but a bit of hands-on ability can be very useful.
Overall, the DVD is more polished than the original theatrical version (although it still includes plenty of vintage Super 8 footage). Since motorcycle film festivals are few and far between in Canada, you’ll likely have to buy a copy of the DVD if you want to see the movie.
There are a couple issues you’ll run across; first, the DVD isn’t exactly readily available from a Canadian retailer. You can, however, order it from the UK, thanks to the magic of the Internet. It’ll cost you £18.50 at Dirtpunk – which, by the way, is run by Paul Castle, one of the Mondo Sahara team members. It’s also available from Aerostich, which is probably the best bet if you’re based in North America. They sell it for $24.65.
The second issue: The Dirtpunk version (which I have) is a PAL Region 0 DVD. It won’t play in some North American DVD players, but will play just fine on your computer, and I also played it on an XBox 360. However, the version sold at Aerostich is NTSC-friendly, so again – if you’re in North America, that’s your best bet.
In summary: If you’re a fan of down-to-earth motorcycle movies, with an emphasis on adventure, this film is worth watching. The exchange rate/international ordering is a bit of a hassle, and might take a bit of work to figure out how to play it on your big screen, but it’s a movie that will help you get through the blahs of the Canadian winter – and any film that does that is priceless indeed.
Mondo Sahara OST
Austin Vince’s movies always have a quirky soundtrack, and Mondo Sahara is no exception. He’s had requests to release the scores for his films in the past, and with this disc, he not only gives listeners the tunes from Mondo Sahara, but also includes music from Mondo Enduro and other short films and projects.
Most of the tunes are performed by The Fantastic Librarians, the band Vince plays in. There’s some garage-style music, some retro-influenced music with roots in soundtracks of the 1960s – a little bit of everything. It’s very eclectic.
If you’re a hardcore fan of the Mondo riding films, you’ll likely enjoy the disc; if you’re an aspiring filmmaker who wants to learn how things are done on a budget, you’ll also likely enjoy the disc. If you’re a fan of Nickelback, Katy Perry or Maroon 5, you probably won’t enjoy the disc.
I’d recommend buying it to complete the collection, if you’ve got Austin Vince’s other films. If not, it likely won’t be as interesting, and you should save your £10 plus shipping and handling for something else.