ming movie reviews

in about 100 words or less

Easy Rider (1969)

USA 94m, Colour
Director: Dennis Hopper; Cast: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Luke Askew, Karen Black, Toni Basil

Lacking any real plot, and filmed with an almost documentary feel, Easy Rider is the quintessential American road movie which follows two aging-hippie drug-dealing bikers as they make their way across America with a large amount of cash. By way of their travels, Wyatt and Billy, an obvious nod to old-west outlaws, played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper evaluate American culture and the time in which they live. While Easy Rider is infamous for its method acting, particularly relative to drug use, the film’s motorcycles, music and photography have become iconic representations of the 1960s counterculture (Klaus Ming April 2010).

3 comments on “Easy Rider (1969)

  1. Derrick

    What do you think the “we blew it” ending means, and whats your fravorite shot of the movie?

  2. klausming

    I suspect “We blew it” refers to the fact that they were about to “retire” in Florida – leaving the hippie counter-culture behind and becoming part of what they were avoiding.

    As for favorite scenes, just about any of the highway shots. I’d need to re-watch it with that question in mind.

  3. Derrick

    I think Peter Fonda says we blew it because hes disillusioned at how they got to their version of the American dream or why their elusive journey was such a un-rewarding non ending. They never truly earned their freedom or lifestyle, they bought it with a quick and lucky score of cocaine. Dennis Hopper’s character is interested in the big score that sets up their retirement, he is the easy rider. However, Fonda is envious of American’s like the farmer in the beginning who “Does his own thing on his own time” and the commune hippies that against all odds plant their seeds. “There going to make it man” because they are honest in achieving their goals and truly live the free lifestyle, in his mind. I feel that Fonda and Hopper are both looking for their version of freedom, however Fonda wishes he achieved it on a more pure and real level. Once he realizes he never near, the end of the flick, he feels like he blew his chance at really accomplishing something meaningful.

    I think my favorite shot in the film is the image of them in the barn fixing the bike tire while the farmers shoe the horse, the shots all captured in the one frame together. That shot to me captures one of the movies major ideas. The idea of traveling across middle America seeing the sighs before their completely changed, or rather trying to elusively find meaning to what the country is about and why and how such change takes place. By editing in shots like that and mixing them with new stylized quick paced trippy shots the movie captured the documentary feel of being part of late 60s culture/counter culture well without sacrificing its crazy answer ambiguity on freedom issues.

    I think the movie lacked any real plot, or at least had the feel of such is becuase in my mind at least Easy Rider can be viewed as one of the first independent movies distributed by a major motion picture company. This is born out by the fact that scenes and actions went unexplained as an artistic, stylized explanation/un-explanation of 60s counter culture, or failure of said culture because it truly was a movie hippies made about hippies. The high degree of confusing and ambiguous non answers within the picture was so realisticly captured because the confusion was real. Seymour Cassel (I’m pretty sure he was a producer on the flick if i remember correctly) states in the featurette Shaking the cage “We were all out of our minds, half of us were on acid”. Also from the Shakeing the cage, “I (Fonda) couldn’t believe what was going on, and i was the producer, every time you see someone smoking grass in the picture its real grass and their really stoned”. The fact that this of the moment anarchy was captured on celluloid truly gave a genuine Independence and unique quality to the picture, never seen before. This high percentage of film chaos fit perfectly into the other creative visual arts that were exploding and getting redefined in the 60s.

    I think the fact that anything remotely digestible and organized came from the production, and why a major studio backed it, was because true professionals such as Laszlo Kovacs, the cinematographer, were hired on to give order to the production. “I stayed sober thought the entire shoot because someone had to make this movie”.

    I think its this mix of organized chaos that truly made Easy Rider capture what was going on in America in the late 60s. Dennis Hopper knew that he needed to do something that was totally different then what was coming out in Hollywood at the time. “Beach Blanket Bingo had very little to do with the hippy movement … I spent a Year editing the film [because at the time] movies fell into a pattern of being made a certain way”. They probably never understood half the things the film was saying, and never needed too, that’s why i think its such a realistic capture of 60s history and why it leaves you with an odd docu feel.

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This entry was posted on 04/28/2010 by in 1001 List, 1960s, All and tagged .
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