The term, “circle the wagons” come from the period of pioneer expansion in America. If one wagon in a wagon train was in distress, the other wagons would form a circle around to protect them from attacks. This type of helpful community is the idea behind the documentary, Circle the Wagen.
In Circle the Wagen, Dave Torstenson fulfills his long held dream to purchase a Volkswagen bus and to hit the road with it. The dream sounds simple enough, except Dave doesn’t know the first thing about cars. The bus, a 1972 Deluxe Transporter named “The Croc,” Dave purchases from a seller on Ebay without as much as a test drive. The Croc is run down, beat up, and has both engine and rust issues. The back bumper is crushed in and the engine will barely turn over. Nonetheless, Dave is in love with the Croc and people do a lot of crazy things for love.
Dave enlists the help of his best friend Charlie Pecoraro to help him get the Croc from its original home in Iowa back to Los Angeles. Along the way, they plan to enlist the help of memebers of the A.I.R.S. list, an online VW community that offers other VW owners everytthing from a place to stay to mechanical help. All of these elements sound like great components for a legendary road trip. However, if all went smoothly this wouldn’t be a very interesting documentary, now would it?
As I mentioned in the beginning, Circle the Wagen isn’t just the story about Dave, Charlie, and the Croc. The film tells a larger story about community across America. Even though the memebers of the A.I.R.S. list that Dave and Charlie get assistance from don’t know them, it doesn’t seem to matter because they have VW’s in common. This type of instant community plays a large part in this film, as Dave and Charlie would not have made it through the trip without them.
This film is apparently a mixture of documentary as well as scripting of the events that happened along the way. The credits mention that Circle the Wagen is “based on the real life misadventures of Dave Torstenson.” Director Ryan Steven Green has put together a film that is an easy journey to ride along with a nice mix of live action, music, and animation. And not only are Charlie and Dave likable guys to watch, it’s hard not to feel affection for the A.I.R.S list members the audience meets along the way as well.
Circle the Wagen is definitely worth the watch. And if you are interested in where the Croc and the guys are now, check out www.circlethewagen.com