Too often this film is relegated to retro documentaries and cheap nostalgia for an era too often reduced to its superficial artifacts flower power, popular music .I was born in 1972, three years after this film was made, but the themes in it are still relevant and important to me. Maybe I'm the last of a certain kind of American; someone wondering about what's still possible in the USA, and searching for the realized potential of the American Dream. Perhaps what has changed since this film was released is that freedom - that is, real freedom, just doesn't matter as much to people <more>
as it once did. Self-enslavement is a popular past-time for today's numb middle class; a group of people who, I am convinced, do not dream when they sleep.This movie defined the road film genre, even though it was not the first of its kind. I owe a debt of gratitude to Fonda, Nicholson, and Hopper for pointing out a very real truth about America and its often twisted approach to "freedom." By any standard, this is a film which should not be missed. It is a film I wish I had written myself.
To me, a flawed masterpiece is a film that is not perfect but by the end achieves something so great it overcomes its' flaws. The two films I can honestly say that about are Lars Von Trier's Dancer In The Dark and Easy Rider. Easy Rider perfectly defines it.The flaws: Well, the first half although entertaining it pointless. They basically just ride around and pick up hippies and go to a commune. Peter Fonda although he looks the part but for some reason something seemed missing from his character. Also, in the beginning there is a pretty annoying editing technique which they luckily <more>
soon abandon.The film really gets astounding in the second half. The whole film is shot very well by DP Laszlo Kovacs and the music might be one of the best soundtracks ever in film. I might even buy it. The film is filled with genuinely poetic ideas. Jack Nicholson gives a star making performance and Dennis Hopper is once again and forever THE MAN. This film is filled with many biblical metaphors which never came off as pretentious but very powerful. The film is filled with very strong visuals. No wonder Dennis Hopper once wanted to work with Alejandro Jodorwsky. The ending is might be the best part of the movie. It is almost the ultimate "what the f*ck?' moment in history, but for such a chaotic film it fits perfectly. The ending is also powerful. It represented to me the end of a generation.Well okay. This movie I know will definitely not please everybody but for those who are open minded and into visually driven films, this film will certainly live up to its' title as one of the most influential films in American history.
The movie Easy Rider which was made in 1969 and directed by Dennis Hopper who was not only the director but also one of the two main characters. The other main character is played by Peter Fonda who along with Hopper wrote the script to the movie Easy Rider. Peter Fonda plays a "Captain America" type of guy, his bike along with his helmet are painted the colors of the American flag, and his leather jacket he wears has a flag sewn into the back of it. Dennis Hopper on the other hand plays more of a hippy role, with his long flowing hair and by the way he dresses we can see a total <more>
difference between the two characters. Though these two characters are different they are both on a journey together to travel over the country to experience what real "freedom" was. The only thing they had with them were there hot rod bikes and all there money which was hidden in Wyatt's gas tank. One of the strangers that these two encountered along the way was famous actor Jack Nicholson. Jack played a man by the name of George Hansen who is a lawyer who seems to have a very clear drinking problem. They meet up with him when they get thrown in jail for riding their motorcycles through a parade in the streets of the town they were riding through. From there they go through a series of events which ends up leading to the death of George Hansen Nicholson . Once Hansen was beaten to death by the town locals who had been hassling them earlier was almost the start of the beginning of the end for the two travelers. The end of the movie comes when the two of them are riding their bikes along the back roads when a couple of "hicks" decided to try and scare them by pointing their shotgun at them. Hopper doesn't even budge but instead gives them the finger, which then leads to him being shot while still riding his bike. Wyatt who was played by Peter Fonda then goes to get help for his dieing buddy. Though he never makes it because the "hicks" so to speak doubled back and as he was going one way they were going the other and shot and killed him as well. Throughout the whole movie I kept pondering in my head what is freedom? And what is freedom in America and will they find it. In the end I don't they did find freedom even though they went all over the country they still were put down or oppressed. They were ridiculed and made fun of at the diner, beaten while they were sleeping because they were different from the locals. Though maybe the freedom they were looking to find was the open road, the way you feel when it's just you and your bike cutting through the air like a knife through warm butter. Maybe freedom for them was the ability to go and do whatever they wanted when they wanted to.
I cannot overstate the importance of this movie in my personal development.In 1969 I was eighteen and a freshman at Cambridge University. I was also a near-fundamentalist and a member of the Christian Union. Its officials decreed that Easy Rider was unsuitable for Christian viewing; I'd seen some enthusiastic reviews which made me curious. Moral and spiritual dilemma followed. To view or not to view? I prayed about it - look, this is a long time ago, right - and decided that if it had been OK for the Christian Union's leaders to see it, if only to realise it was morally dubious, then <more>
it was OK for me. They hadn't been corrupted, presumably; the Lord would see that I wasn't either.So I went and it blew me away. I thought then and think now, that this is a magnificently perceptive commentary on hippie culture and one that only the medium of film can deliver. Naive idealism is weighed against the squalid reality of drugs and indeed alcohol . Freedom is portrayed as often aimless, self-indulgent and downright boring. The underlying morality could be seen as puritanical: a celebration of the free-lovin' drop-out Sixties it ain't, more a weary end-of-decade critique thereof. I would have thought there was much to commend it to the Christian Union moralisers, yet as ever they couldn't see past the surface - drug abuse, loose women. Yet it has its high moments, in more ways than one, and is always a treat for the eyes.My decision to defy the Christian Union by seeing the film was an early step out of my fundamentalist prison and I haven't stopped walking yet. No-one's ever going to tell me what I can and can't watch again: nor will I censor anyone else's viewing. I'm still a believer, but not of the kind that the Christian Union would have thought will ever go to heaven. Guess I'll have to live with that.
A Far Out Document of the late 60's Encapsulates Counter-Culture America. (by Don-102)
Not many films have documented an era of American culture the way it must have really been. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES captured the reality of the post-war 1940's. TAXI DRIVER is a masterpiece of social distortion and paranoia exemplary of the 1970's. No film other than EASY RIDER captures the late 1960's as seen by the American counter-culture. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper's story of two men who go in search of America and 'freedom' is a bona fide sign of the times. I may not have been around at the time, but it is great to see a film portraying the long-haired, <more>
hippie attitude towards an America in turmoil in the form of a biker flick, circa 1969.EASY RIDER is an exploration of vast and desolate parts of the country. Of course, the stop at Mardi Gras is a necessity, but what Fonda and director Hopper are trying to tell us is that there was no 'freedom' as they saw it. The sprawling journey shows filmgoers the multiple frictions and shattered idealism of a generation in the midst of cultural change. Sex, drugs, and music were exploding socially and 1960's ideology may have come to an end in 1969, literally and figuratively speaking - much like it shockingly does in this film.Peter Fonda plays cool "Captain America", otherwise known as Wyatt, while Hopper is a paranoid prophet of the hippies as "Billy the Kid". The stunning DVD version of the film notes the importance of Laszlo Kovacs, the director of photography. Much of the film consists of Kovacs' simple shooting of the riders as they travel spiraling highways and bigoted backroads. It is some beautiful footage and essential to the trip. A major deal is made, much grass is smoked, and the film takes off from there. Their ultimate goal is never clearly defined, but Fonda's final comment to Hopper may sum it up for viewers. Did they find what America was supposed to be about? I guess not according to Fonda.There is a surreal experience at a commune the Kid and Wyatt stop at. These scenes are out of a Fellini film. One significant shot paints the commune with a 360 degree pan across the faces of the live-in hippies. The expressions on the faces all seem different, some grinning, others just zoned out. Kovac's amazing camera work especially on the road with the bikes along with a virtual who's who in rock music of the late 60's makes for a sometimes visceral filmgoing experience. The immortal 'Born to be Wild' blares over the opening title sequence and everyone from Hendrix to The Byrds are heard throughout. EASY RIDER also contains one of Jack Nicholson's 2 or 3 most memorable performances, even to this day. As drunken lawyer "George Hanson", he creates an amazingly funny and perfect counterpoint to Hopper and Fonda. He realizes what the general public can think of the "long-hairs" and puts himself in danger just by traveling with them. A bizarre notion of alien presence in the U.S. government is part of a hilarious conversation Nicholson and Hopper have over Whiskey and smoke. His scenes on Fonda's chopper with the golden football helmet are absolute, cinematic classics. Credit must be given to Fonda, Hopper, Nicholson, Kovacs, and Terry Southern for giving a new face to movie-making. They captured the era in a raw, jump cutting fashion. Maybe the hippies were not entirely right by trying to live off the land, or smoking dope all the time, but they may have been onto something.RATING: ***1/2
Over time, this rough diamond of a film has become a real gem in my collection. When I first saw it at the theater, I remember liking the anti-establishment attitude and the rock music soundtrack. Later, on T.V., I remember thinking what a great actor Jack Nicholson was...and how terribly low-budget the rest of the film appeared. And now, over 30 years later....it's one of my favorite movies of all time. Peter Fonda tries to be Everyman....but he's really the most insecure individual of the group. His cathartic trip at the cemetary in New Orleans is embarrassingly honest to watch. <more>
His search is not for individual freedom...his search is for a family. And yet, he is always the outsider, the observer. Dennis Hopper is the sidekick, the fool. And like a fool, he cannot hide his thoughts behind a socially acceptable demeanor. He constantly says exactly what he thinks. He has little patience for flower children, pretentious intellectuals, coy women, law officers, drunks in jail, or rednecks passing him on the road. Like a fool, he is doomed. Jack Nicholson is the core of the film. He does not appear until halfway through the bikers' odyssey, but the trip will not make sense until his face rises up from the jailhouse cot to peer bleary-eyed at his surroundings. He is the innocent man of this group....he is the AMERICAN. This movie is just another road picture, the way ON THE ROAD by Kerouac was just another travel book. This little counterculture movie is an American Classic.
This used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it. (by film-critic)
I was utterly surprised by this film. I was expecting nothing more than some short scenes of our now-infamous actors smoking marijuana followed by trippy Willy Wonka scenes . Oddly, this did occur, but this film was much more than that. This film should be shown in every American History class in the United States. It not only showed the beauty of the country of which we reside, but it also spoke about the people that reside in it. You know the old saying, 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people', well after watching this film, it is a very true statement. We are afraid of <more>
what is different. We are a culture that is afraid of change, yet seek it so badly. We are a society of hypocrites, androids, and ignorants. We thrive on the fact that we are the best country in the world, yet somebody shows any disassociation of routine, we are the first to question and get angry. I would dare say that we have moved so far from the 60s that I cannot see why our parents do not cry everyday. Their generations was a free-spirited, mind challenging culture that explored all possibilities no matter the cost. The experience was all they needed as a reward. Now, we are more concerned about money and the family-plan that we sometimes place ourselves on the backburner to life. Wake, eat, and pay the bills. What a sad daily structure that we have. When was the last time you considered the possibility of just jumping on your bike and riding until you hit water? Probably not for a long time why? It is called 'bills' and 'responsibilities'. These are the choices that we chose to make, and for anyone to say that they cannot do it, I would have to challenge. You CAN do anything, it is whether you chose to do it is another question. I wonder what it will be like in another 30 years. Where will we be, and will the idea of individualism be lost? I can't wait to see Outside of the deeply rooted themes of this film, I felt that Hopper who also directed knew exactly what he was doing behind the camera. He kept the talking short, the music loud and symbolic, and allowed the background to do the explaining. I loved the fact that we really knew nothing about Fonda or Hopper's characters. It allowed us to relate to them. You could easily add your story into their characters and have the life that you lead and wish to escape. Hopper was able to transform this film from a drug movie to a film about humanity. Fonda, who also helped write the film with Hopper, did a superb job of adding Nicholson's character into the mix.Nicholson represented us, the American public and our love of liquor, football, and lies. I viewed Nicholson as the average American. He drank too much, was the product of a wealthy upbringing, but did not know much about the world. He was sheltered. He never smoked weed in fact didn't even know what it was when presented to him , never left the state line, and never lived life. He constantly used the expression, 'I have always wanted to '. How many times do you hear this a day from either a family member or a co-worker? If you always wanted to do it, why haven't you? So, here we have Hanson, dreaming a dream but never following through, who is traveling with two guys that live the ultimate life and live by their own rules. They are complete opposites, but Hanson's words seemed to remain in my mind for a long time. He reminded me of one of my wife's students today that spoke about freedom. He knew exactly what it was, but never practiced it. Hopper and Fonda were walking driving most of the time representations of the word 'freedom'. It is tragic what happens to Harmon, because he unfortunately experienced the negative side of freedom hatred and fear of the unknown.There was one scene that just jumped out at me. It occurs in the diner before the incident later that night where our travelers experience hatred in the country they admire so much. They go from peace and love to fear and hate. It is as if they witnessed night and day. It was frightening to hear the words coming from people in that restaurant. It was not only scary to wonder what was going to happen to our narrators, but mainly that people were speaking that way to fellow citizens. I know that it still occurs today, and it is surprising to me. We bomb a country because they do not follow the same principles that we do, but we need to start asking ourselves this question do we need another United States?Grade: ***** out of *****
Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider is often cited as being an all time classic, and while I don't think this is a great film in terms of technical brilliance, it sums up the era it was made and the tongue in cheek, cynical take on the 'American dream' is both potent and well done. This film is very much a product of the sixties and, like many things from the decade, will always be fondly remembered. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, men of substance and substance abuse, wrote the film together and Hopper directed it. These two were obviously in the thick of what was cool in the sixties, <more>
and that gives the film an element of authenticity as we feel like what we're seeing isn't too far away from the things really going on at that time. The plot is simple and more just a base for the film to deliver it's real sting than anything else. It follows two motorbike riders on their way from Los Angeles to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We follow their exploits as they travel the country meeting various people including, most notably, George Hanson; an offbeat lawyer, played by the great Jack Nicholson.The American Dream has always been about freedom. But like George Hanson says; it's one thing to talk about being free, but something else entirely to actually be it. That's the theme of the entire movie, and the way that it plays out, and the ending especially, aptly portray the difference between saying something and actually doing it. The acting performances are a big part of the movie, and the two leads; Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper stick out the most. The two actors brilliantly get into their characters, and after a while you forget that you're watching actors and start to think that these people really are these characters. Jack Nicholson turns up halfway through and steals the show. It's not hard to see why this actor went on to become one of the best of all time. Even here, he shows his charisma and ability to steal the show and that is what he would go on to become famous for doing later in his career. Last but not least, another great thing about Easy Rider is the music. Music was, of course, a big thing in the sixties; and it's a big thing about this movie. Classic rock accompanies the pictures of the two men rider their bikes, and it's very cool indeed. On the whole, this film is an out and out classic.
I think this film is an American masterpiece...to me it's actually not overly entertaining, it just says so much and so little at the same time. I never liked hippies, but this movie emphasizes how poorly America treats people who are different and it made me appreciate the counterculture movement much more. The really ironic part of the movie is how Wyatt was nicknamed Captain America and had his chopper all decked out in red, white, and blue. While watching this film, I really wanted them to retaliate and kick some redneck butt, but that wouldn't have made the film as strong as it <more>
is. I really liked Jack Nicholson in this film...he added some comic relief and he drinks Jim Beam in a pint bottle just like I always do. Combine all of that with a mean soundtrack and excellent photography direction and you get a film that everyone should see, especially young people. The documentary on the making of the film is very interesting...if you like this movie and don't own it yet, go buy the DVD, the documentary is on there.