By: The Dweeb
If the Age of Aquarius was in 1967, then 1969 must have been the hangover. It is clear, that during the age of Peace and Love, the party had to end sometime, if Easy Rider is any indication. Its amazing what an impact this small film has made on the American psyche, asking the questions that dared not be asked. Are we, as a freedom loving people, truly free? I dunno man, just pass me the bong. This film reveals that all that Hippie love didn’t make for a good long term commitment, and that there are plenty of bumps in the road. Hey that’s heavy man.
Easy Rider is quite the simple little road movie, at least on the surface it is. We follow two hippies on their journey to New Orleans and Mardi Gras, and meet all sorts of interesting characters in different parts of the country. It starts off on a high note (no pun intended) and slowly devolves exposing us to the dark underbelly of the country at that time. The viewer sees that the Hippie commune is not a great experience, its almost a complete failure. Racism and bigotry are rampant throughout the film, as Captain America and Wyatt travel through a few one horse towns in the deep south to get to New Orleans. I had no idea that this movie would be so dark, I thought it was going to be a good time, a celebration of the Hippie lifestyle. Was Hopper trying to make a statement about our society at the time? That’s up to each person to interpret while watching the film.
The one of the many ripple effects this film had on the Hollywood landscape was to make these relatively unknown actors into the super stars that they are today. Easy Rider gave birth to three of Hollywood’s heavyweights, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. I always thought that Hopper tended to play his characters a little bit nutty, like in Apocalypse Now. I am convinced that he isn’t acting. He even admits that for this film they just stuck the camera in front of a couple of stoners around a campfire and let it rip. Obviously then these performances are not acted then, they become more authentic. Even though they are supposed to inhabit these characters on screen. The true personality comes out of each actor, which was unintentional originally but it seemed to work so they kept it in the movie.
The picture and sound for this anniversary edition of Easy Rider has been cleaned up immensely. The grain is still there, but it does detract from the overall look of the film. Some of the cinematography is quite amazing, showing off the diverse American landscapes. Very pleasing to watch, and coupled with a great soundtrack that went along with the times makes for a wonderful viewing experience.
Additional extras included with this DVD aren’t numerous, but what they lack in quantity is made up for in terms of quality. The film features a commentary track by Dennis Hopper, and also a very lengthy documentary on the making of the movie. I found it very interesting to watch, especially the main principles being interviewed from today’s perspective. Also included in the set is a book detailing more information and an additional soundtrack cd, which in my book is a great bonus. So if you want to rock out to some 60’s rock, you can go for it man. This film is a true American classic, and this edition is worthy of Easy Riders place in film history.