Review this movie
Aug 27, 2010Just as the film explores what the limits of freedom are in an unjust and prejudiced world, the actual movie pushes the limits of the quality of a picture produced by two drugged-out stars on the road, defying the logic of big, Hollywood, money-bloated moguls. But just as the taste of total freedom turns sour in the movie, the question of whether this movie should be considered a classicJust as the film explores what the limits of freedom are in an unjust and prejudiced world, the actual movie pushes the limits of the quality of a picture produced by two drugged-out stars on the road, defying the logic of big, Hollywood, money-bloated moguls. But just as the taste of total freedom turns sour in the movie, the question of whether this movie should be considered a classic is a shaky "I don't know..."… Expand
BuzzC.May 6, 2008Strange. But very cool!
KyleJun 15, 2008Most important film of the 60s.
May 25, 2013"A man went looking for America, and couldn't find it anywhere..." With a blistering rock-and-roll soundtrack, a host of trippy cinematic techniques, and dialogue that represented a very unique period in American history ("They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to them.) "Easy Rider" from 1969 is a hallmark American film, and a great independent feature success."A man went looking for America, and couldn't find it anywhere..." With a blistering rock-and-roll soundtrack, a host of trippy cinematic techniques, and dialogue that represented a very unique period in American history ("They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to them.) "Easy Rider" from 1969 is a hallmark American film, and a great independent feature success.
The ultimate counter-culture classic, "Easy Rider" directed by first time director Dennis Hopper, jolted a Hollywood in transition when it became an unexpected hit in 1969, encapsulating the freewheeling spirit of the times, and the divide between the youth culture and the Establishment. This unconventional classic, which Time magazine hails as "one of the ten most important pictures of the decade," continues to strike a chord with audiences of all ages to this day.
After securing a major drug deal in Los Angeles, two free-spirited potheads Billy (Dennis Hopper) and Wyatt, a.k.a. Captain America (Peter Fonda), buy choppers and hit the road, traveling from Los Angeles to Mardi Gras in New Orleans to experience "the real America." Along the way, they encounter rednecks, experiment with LSD, visit a hippie commune, end up in jail, all in the name of living the American dream. While inevitably dated, it remains worthwhile, highlighted by Laszlo Kovacs photography, a great soundtrack, and Jack Nicholson star-making performance as a boozed up lawyer who tags along for the ride. Nicholson earned a Best Supporting Actor nod, while Hopper and Fonda continued to solidify their reputations.
"Easy Rider" was the official U.S. entry at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Best Film by a New Director prize (Hopper). Opened across the country in September 1969, it mesmerized critics with its perspective look at America. The film also received two Oscar nominations-Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Nicholson). Highly influential in its camerawork, storyline, and 60's rock soundtrack--"Easy Rider" endures as the ultimate psychedelic road-trip.… Expand
Aug 31, 2015Bottom line: Easy Rider is a powerful movie that captures the American attitude and spirit in the late 1960's.
The premise of Easy Rider is rather quite basic; two friends, Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper), ride their motorcycles from LA to Louisiana for Mardi Gras. Their drug fueled journey becomes a spiritual journey as the pair learns about themselves and America. The movie opensBottom line: Easy Rider is a powerful movie that captures the American attitude and spirit in the late 1960's.
The premise of Easy Rider is rather quite basic; two friends, Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper), ride their motorcycles from LA to Louisiana for Mardi Gras. Their drug fueled journey becomes a spiritual journey as the pair learns about themselves and America. The movie opens with the pair of guys parking cheap motorcycles outside a run down cantina. They are there to meet a cocaine dealer. The pair sample and approve of the powder. The camera cuts to the pair waiting near an airport runway. A Rolls-Royce rolls up and a well dressed man steps out. He, too, samples and approves of the powder before buying it for a large sum of money. The pair has made a fortune and plans to spend the money on a trip to Mardi Gras. They buy new motorcycles and set off into the desert roads.
The acting in Easy Rider is solid. Dennis Hopper’s performance as Billy is great. Initially, I labeled his character as “hippy”: he has long hair and a bushy mustache and uses “man” as punctuation. At one point the two pick up a hitchhiker who is traveling back to a commune in the middle of the desert. The hitchhiker made me realize that there is a complexity to the characters that I missed. Billy is a hippy-like character in appearance but his temper and focus on worldly pleasures differentiate him from the others. Wyatt is a “cool” or relaxed type of guy and is the one that really grows through the journey. Unlike Billy or George or the hitchhiker, Wyatt is not a representative of a 1960’s demographic. As George (Nicholson) explains, “You are change and people don’t like change.”
As Easy Rider is something of a road trip movie, a common artifact is the super long, scenery shots. Denisoff and Romanowski note, the music played during these riding montages, forms a sort of “musical commentary”. The soundtrack, beginning with “The Pusher” by Steppenwolf, continues with the iconic “Born to be Wild” also by Steppenwolf. You can see the progression of the story and tone throughout the rest of the soundtrack. Easy Rider is a perfect example of how music can be utilized to complement the images on the screen. Sure, we might have a great orchestration that provides emotional support but, here, the music provides a political (as well as emotional) support.
Have you ever watched a movie where a particular scene is burned into your memory? Maybe it strikes a chord with you but as you see the shot you know that it is going to stick with you. I'd bet that it usually happens with scary movies. Easy Rider had one of those moments for me. Wyatt rolls the money they earned by selling cocaine into a rubber tube. He hides that rubber tube in his motorcycle's American flag painted, teardrop gas tank. It is a beautifully succinct yet complex statement about the US. One of the best parts is that the movie lets the image speak for itself.
The cutting used at times in the movie is jarring. Instead of a Star Wars-like swipe cut or a fade to black transition, the movie alternates between the two scenes. It is the type of cutting you might expect in an action movie. A character has a gun and points it at his or her target. The camera focuses on the gun, then the target, then the gun, 'bang,' then on the target. This rapid cutting is exciting so we are used to seeing it in an action but in Easy Rider the transitions between scenes aren't exciting. One jump, for example, takes us from the pair sitting around a campfire to Wyatt walking through a dilapidated Church. It felt jarring and don't quite know how to feel about it. I like the idea of using film techniques in unconventional ways but it feels awkward. Yeah, I can dig it. The idea that it is disruptive fits in with the rest of the movie which is socially disruptive.
My only major qualm about the movie is that sometimes it moves away from visual messages to just sitting around a campfire telling us something. Consider the image of the gas tank and money. I know you can show some good stuff, movie, keep going; don’t just regress into telling me something. This isn’t a deal breaker by any means but it is noteworthy.
If, for no other reason, to function as a time capsule, I recommend you see Easy Rider. It is clear depiction of a definitive time in American history. It also illustrates how film can resonate socially and politically. I think for a discussion post I will think about the responsibility of art, if there is such a thing. On a superficial level, or if you saw Easy Rider without actually watching it, it might appear like this film is glorifying a wayward and drug filled lifestyle. From what I hear, that's the message a majority of the original audience left with. In reality, Easy Rider is criticizing this lifestyle. If people misinterpreted its meaning, should it have been more overt?… Expand
Someday it was inevitable that a great film would come along, utilizing the motorcycle genre, the same way the great Westerns suddenly made everyone realize they were a legitimate American art form, Easy Rider is the picture.