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Easy Rider

Action & Adventure and Cult Movies movie

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Get your motor running

  • Jun 23, 2002
  • by
Most of the negative reviews here criticise this movie as being dated and for idolising the waster culture - possibly related criticisms - but it's difficult to see how you could justify either except on a very cursory consideration of the film.

Easy Rider absolutely refuses to idolise the sixties ideal, and it is not to my eyes even vaguely dated (I say this having seen it for the first time last night, thirty three years late).

The golden thread running through this film is that THE PARTY'S OVER, DUDES.

Fonda states this explicitly ("we blew it...") and it's firmly implied in a devastatingly funny caricature of a dead beat hippy commune (as the city dropouts joyously commune with nature, scattering their seed on the barren land of the New Mexico desert, Fonda asks wryly, "do you, ah, get much rain up here?")

And (without wishing to spoil the ending) by the time the credits roll, our heroes haven't exactly profited from their wild lives. The ending of the film is profoundly pessimistic about the prospects for freedom and independence.

The film is certainly critical of the intolerant "establishment" (which nevertheless prevails), but if there is one character who does smell of roses, it is the farmer who takes the boys in for the night and who, says Fonda, should be proud simply for living off the land.

For my money this makes Easy Rider ahead, rather than behind its times. It's also rooted in a number of great cinematic traditions, aside from the Road Movie genre which it helped to invent. I like the idea (expressed in a review below) that this is a latter day western, even down to the character's names, Wyatt and Billy. Also, were you to draw a line between Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid and Thelma & Louise, it would intersect Easy Rider.

The performances of the cast are delightful - Nicholson's is rightly feted, and Hopper's is very Dennis Hopper - fans of Apocalypse Now will recognise this style in which Hopper doesn't really act so much as simply looning around - here in total contrast to Fonda's studied coolness, which holds the film together, reinforced with a cracking soundtrack (in this regard also, Easy Rider was well ahead of its time).

If you fancy a dash of counterpoint, try watching Easy Rider back to back with David Lynch's stunning recent work The Straight Story - as a compare and contrast job, I think they'd make a fascinating study.

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More Easy Rider reviews
review by . July 14, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    I'm always saying that I watch movies because I want an experience; and the experience itself is like my high. No doubt, most people would say they've got drugs for shit like that; but a movie is either more or less messy, and the long term effects that it can have on you aren't painful. Sometimes they are life-changing and inspiring. This is true to me, and it might not be true to others, but to all whom the truth does apply to; "Easy Rider" is one of those …
review by . July 18, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
American dreams  Drugs, cash, girls -- an endless highway  It's true, we blew it
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Olly Buxton ()
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Member Since: Sep 26, 2009
Last Login: Dec 22, 2010 09:37 PM UTC
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This box-office hit from 1969 is an important pioneer of the American independent cinema movement, and a generational touchstone to boot. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper play hippie motorcyclists crossing the Southwest and encountering a crazy quilt of good and bad people. Jack Nicholson turns up in a significant role as an attorney who joins their quest for awhile and articulates society's problem with freedom as Fonda's and Hopper's characters embody it. Hopper directed, essentially bringing the no-frills filmmaking methods of legendary, drive-in movie producer Roger Corman (The Little Shop of Horrors) to a serious feature for the mainstream. The film can't help but look a bit dated now (a psychedelic sequence toward the end particularly doesn't hold up well), but it retains its original power, sense of daring, and epochal impact.--Tom Keogh
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Genre: Cult Movies, Action, Adventure
DVD Release Date: June 4, 2002
Runtime: 95 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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"Get your motor running"
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