Easy Rider Reviews
Easy Rider is both a victory for American independent cinema and a countercultural commentary on the mindset of a misunderstood movement. Today, this meandering and moody film feels like a window into a lost-but-never forgotten world.
Driven by awesome performances straddling an unforgettable soundtrack, if still makes for a good ride.
The film focuses on two main characters nicknamed Captain America (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) who embark on a road trip on two glorious motorcycles, from Los Angeles to the New Orleans Mardi Gras festival with the proceeds of a succession of drug deals.
Along the long journey across the American West they pass icons including Monument Valley.
In the middle of the film a young Jack Nicholson who plays a drunken lawyer George gets the pair out of jail and for a while embarks on their journey.
The film showcases several scenes of substance misuse and activities that can only be described as shocking to audiences then and now including a drug trip in a New Orleans graveyard.
The film was produced on a shoestring budget and directed by Hopper produced by Fonda.
For me the stand out parts are the soundtrack that includes some classics from the period.
Jack Nicholsons' youthfulness,
and the disturbing and abrupt ending.
It's a confused jumble of meaningless gobbledigook. The only decent scenes - of the dudes cruising on their choppers - were pretty much ruined by the floofy croonings of The Byrds. It's old movies like these that make we wanna dig up dead director corpses and pee on them.
"What you represent to them is freedom."
The wandering spirit set lose on a motorcycle with some marijuana joints on the wings of freedom, meets a hard fist of understanding.
Peter Fonda as Captain America and Dennis Hopper as Billy in their defining roles. Even Jack Nicholson joins them for the ride at one point. Dennis Hopper reprieves qualities of his character here with that in Apocalypse Now.
As our 2 anti-heroes plod along their journey, they become involved in different situations and experiences. Note an early appearance by Phil Spector. They visit a brothel where a young Karen Black and Toni Basel ("Hey Mickey!") are prostitutes. There is even a trip-out sequence at a New Orleans graveyard for those who want to drop acid at the end of the film. They visit a farmer's house and share a meal with his family:
"You've got a nice place. It's not every man that can live off the land, you know. You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud."
Easy Rider was an influential film in its day. I even remember wearing an Easy Rider t-shirt as a young lad. The film defined the hippie way of living off the land, not being tied down to capital, man. Unfortunately, this great film seems to have much of its lustre over the decades.