Movie Review: Easy Rider

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movie reviews

Easy Rider Jan 26, 2010

Easy Rider (1969)
Rating: star star star star star (5 stars out of 5)
Cast: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson
Director: Dennis Hopper
Writers: Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper
Genre: Road/Buddy film
Awards: Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay
Run Time: 95 minutes

Synopsis:
After a successful cocaine deal, 2 hippies get themselves a pair of Harley Davidson choppers and take a road trip across the American south. In their adventure, they come across interesting characters as they journey through the varied landscape of America - a hippie hitch hiker who takes them to his commune, hick-town discrimination and violence, an alcoholic small town lawyer, Mardi-Gras and getting stoned on acid with 2 hookers in a cemetery.

Characters
Peter Fonda is Wyatt (aka Captain America), man of few words, but when he talks, he provides balance through his perspective. Dennis Hopper is Billy, Wyatt's partner who makes no pretension about anything else. Then there's the young Jack Nicholson, the playful small town lawyer who asks them to be taken to the greatest whorehouse in all of New Orleans.

We Blew It!
This is the part I didn't get. Even critics are not unanimous on what this means. After making their money in the cocaine deal and reaching the eastern south of America where they plan on living life in Florida's easy street, things ought to be nice and promising. Billy thinks so. Then Wyatt, in his predictable enigmatic and reflective way, say, "You know what Billy? We blew it!". Blew what?

Ending Thoughts
Dig this - the movie is over 40 years old! However, it still remains the iconic motorcycle movie classic that spurred countless films of the same genre. What's its magic? Maybe it's life on the open road where you deal with life as it comes - the freedom, the escape, living life on your own terms. Of course there's the scenic backdrop of the American west. The motorcycle guy is the modern-day cowboy. It's as American as apple pie and hits the culture where the nerve is raw. The movie is unapologetic in its narrative about America's hick-world thinking.

Metaphorically, Wyatt and Billy represent change in America's social fabric - the part folks in the rural backroads of America don't even comprehend, let alone subscribe to. The movie can also be construed along the lines of intolerance to things we don't understand. Or fear about things we know little about. Think about the stark contrast - Norman Rockwell meets Timothy Leary (the fabled 60's LSD guru) on wheels. It's almost as incongruous as 'Guess Who's coming to Dinner?' where black guy boyfriend Sidney Poitier becomes the surprise dinner guest in a white bread family. Conventions clash.

I've seen this movie 3x and its flavor changes depending on the spirit of the times. I'm sure to watch this movie the 4th time, maybe a decade later. Can't wait how it comes across then.

--- TheLoneRider

Comments? Email webmaster@thelonerider.com

Helen StapletonHelen Stapleton
(Feb 23, 2010) I used to live in New Roads/Morganza, Louisiana, the little town where they filmed the scene where they were eating in a cafe and the local girls were checking them out and the men were making rude comments at them. My favorite line from one of the men was, "They look like refugees from a gorilla love-in". I taught high school French in that town and one of my students was the son of one of those girls. Hope you're doing well.


Dindo VelasquezDindo Velasquez
(Jan 28, 2010) This is a very good movie!

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