Easy Rider

1969 hippie manifesto

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A couple hippies strike it rich with the resell of some cocaine. They decide to get on their motorbikes and travel across the country to New Orleans. Along the way, the meet some hippies, a bunch of people who don't like hippies, Jack Nicholson, and some whores. Then, they die.

I'd taken all these wonderful notes about Easy Rider, how it's a laid-back indictment of the American dream with a graceful and poetic narrative-within-the-narrative about the history of America and the failure of capitalism. Stuff about the symbolism of Captain America driving a motorcycle fueled by cash and how free sex is more pure than sex you have to pay for and how freely chasing your ideals will only get you shot by some rednecks. Or maybe it was wasting their freedom got them shot by the rednecks. It was great stuff, but you'll have to take my word that it existed because I ended up wadding it up and stuffing it down my pipe and smoking it. I like the three leads--nonchalant and doomed Peter Fonda as Wyatt, the continuously giggling Dennis Hopper as Billy, and the lively Jack Nicholson in that goofy football helmet. I also really like the look of this movie; Laszlo Kovacs' cinematography perfectly captures the American landscape and the mysteries of our past, working almost like a visual folklore. Although I think a lot of the scenes were filmed by stoned locals Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda encountered on the journey. Easy Rider takes a turn for the weird near the end during a cemetery acid trip scene, dating the movie somewhat but nevertheless a nice trippy diversion. This is a movie just flooded with music, probably too much, and people who don't like this movie very much will argue that in addition to the thing being a relic from an era they probably don't like much, about sixty percent of the movie consists of shots of the actors riding their motorcycles while flower power anthems blare. Fair enough, but it perfectly captures the moods and wasted ideals of the time, and if you look a little deeper, you'll see it's packed with meaning. One thing I can't stand though--the blinking transition thing. That's just irritating.


cory said...

I wanted to be a fan of this (counter-culture classic and all that), but it just annoys me. Besides the negatives you point out, it always felt like they were pretty much just making it up as they went along, and were mostly just spewing a bunch of hippie shit. These are generally people I woundn't want to spend five minutes with in real life (except maybe Jack), and are just as unappealing for 90 on the screen. A 10.

Shane said...

Few things:

1) Isn't this anti-hippie shit?

2) Doesn't "making it up as they went along" describe how all things are made?

3) I only mentioned one negative, didn't I?

4) You wouldn't want to spend five minutes with Dennis Hopper? Or his hat?

cory said...

1 response: It certainly shows what right-thinking Americans do with hippies (easy there, I'm just kidding...sort of).

2 response: Very seldom is off the cuff better than thought out, and surely not in this case. It might suit the message, but then I don't care for the message or especially the messengers.

3 response: You mention dated acid trip and blinking transitions.

4 response: I would spend five minutes with movie Hopper just to watch him die (again the kidding thing).

Now I have to go do yardwork. I freakin' hate yardwork! (more than hippie movies...sort of).

Shane said...

1) Right-thinking Americans? I'm not sure we saw good Americans in the movie...surely you wouldn't want to hang around with any of the redneck characters in this movie, would you? If you do, head on out to Indiana!

2) I can think of several cases where I wish a movie wasn't as WRITTEN as it was...I like off-the-cuff. But really, everything is written as they go along...most stuff is just polished afterward.

3) Only one of those was a negative. I happen to enjoy dated acid trips.

4) No comment

5) Yardwork...on that, we can agree.