Easy Rider (1969)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 10 out of 10

4-Word Review: Drop out of society.

This is still the granddaddy of all road movies as it perfectly captures the era and the angst of those living in it. It examines the harsh reality of life on the open road, but does it with a deep philosophical edge. Wyatt and Billy (Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper) are two bikers making their way to the Mardi Gras when they pick up lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson) along the way. They face prejudice and apathy from others who do not understand their values, or lifestyle. Although strongly linked to the 60’s many of the statements that the film makes and ideas that it brings out are as pertinent today as ever and this is one movie that should not be overlooked by the serious film fan as it is a classic and far from being just a relic.

The script, which was written by Fonda and Hopper, who also directed, portrays the open road as an odyssey of personal discovery instead of a particular destination. It brings out how one is still always trapped within the confines of the very society they may wish to escape. Above all it questions what true freedom really is, whether anyone has it, and if it can fully exist.

Fonda and Hopper are perfect. They channel their rebellious energies well. Of course it’s Nicholson who steals it playing a slightly goofy character. He exudes a charm here that’s rarely seen in his other performances. He also sports the silliest riding helmet you can imagine.

Lazlo Kovacs cinematography is outstanding. It captures the American landscape like you’re watching a travel show. The hippy commune scene is the best as it is so vivid that it makes you feel like you are right there. There is also a memorable hallucinogenic drug scene in a graveyard that is wickedly surreal and features cult favorite Karen Black in an early role.

Some may say it’s boring, but the slow pacing is deliberate and well-orchestrated. The framing and flash editing are groundbreaking in both its vision and execution. This is a definite trend setter and most importantly a classic.

My Rating: 10 out of 10

Released: July 14, 1969

Runtime: 1Hour 35Minutes

Rated R

Director: Dennis Hopper

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD (35th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

7 responses to “Easy Rider (1969)

  1. Reviews will be written and essays penned, but words can not describe just how important this film was and will always be. Only a few special movies can transcend the art form itself and become something much more than just a film. This was one of them.

  2. Pingback: Out of the Blue (1980) | Scopophilia

  3. A true road movie; the father of Two-Lane Blacktop. Easy Rider has a remarkable, naturalistic quality.

  4. Terry Southern was really the sole author of Easy Rider’s screenplay; in a mistaken burst of generosity, he arranged for Hopper and Fonda to share the writing credit. I devoted an entire chapter of my biography to the making of Easy Rider in my biography of Dennis Hopper.


  5. Pingback: The Hired Hand (1971) | Scopophilia

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