Dec 16, 2007

Easy Rider

Easy Rider is one of few American “classics.” The film was part of the so-called “Hollywood Renaissance” where stupid Americans proved they could be artistic like the French(New Wave). I will give credit where credit is due. Easy Rider is as artistic as any Hollywood film could get. This is no surprise considering a young drugged Dennis Hopper directed it. The film was shot on 16mm(looks gritty even on DVD) and at points bordering a Cinéma vérité style. A good amount of Easy Rider features the two hippie drug dealers(Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper) just riding their motorcycles across rural America. Stoner rock of this period(late 60’s) is heard throughout.

Music producer/murderer Phil Spector makes an appearance as the drug “connection.” Jack Nicholson also comes along for the ride as an alcoholic ACLU lawyer. He’s fighting for American freedom of speech and all he gets in return is a broken skull. The majority of other actors featured in Easy Rider are easily forgettable. But there is one comical exception. “Close-minded” redneck Southerners make the ultimate bad guys. They verbally bait and the hippies do nothing. For once a Hollywood film is realistic.

Over the decades, it is no doubt that tons of dope has been smoked while viewing Easy Rider. Pointless awkward stoner talk is heard throughout the film. These scenes almost make Easy Rider effective as an anti-drug film. These flower children never even make it out of the South. Who knows what Dennis Hopper’s message was with Easy Rider. His brain was probably fried from all the acid he took during the shooting.

The most “experimental” part of Easy Rider is when the hippie duo and two girls drop acid in a graveyard. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be disturbed by this scene. Maybe Hollywood shouldn’t experiment with trying to be artsy. The acid was obviously bad. Almost as bad as the religious symbolism during the scene. Everyone knows that the best cinematic graveyard scenes are in Jim Van Bebber’s Deadbeat at Dawn and My Sweet Satan. All bowl hits should be in tribute to Satan!

Unfortunately Easy Rider hasn’t aged very well. Set during the time period when America started to collapse(others call it “progression”), the film is almost stomach turning. Its good to know that Easy Rider at least acknowledged the failure of hippies and their ambition for freedom. Sorry but you will more of a slave to sex, drugs, and rock n roll than any fascist government. Dennis Hopper knows this better than anyone else.

The ending of Easy Rider is by far the best part of the film. Excellently executed and impacting, its what makes me decide to go back to Easy Rider every year. Dennis Hopper was uninterested in peace and love. He was more interested in taking tons of drugs and passing out next to a curb.

-Ty E

1 comment:

you`ll find a welcome in the hillside, you`ll find a welcome in the dale. said...

to me this film has always been unwatchable horse-shit, although i will admit that the bit in the graveyard is the most brilliant piece of cinematic art i`ve ever seen.