Anthony's Film Review
Easy Rider (1969)
An average road trip movie, but one that is still notable for its portrait of 1960s America...
Easy Rider is a film that I can consider to be an American film. By American film, I mean a motion picture that captures the lifestyles of certain segments of the American population. Here, we have a portrait of cross-country motorcycle riding, pristine American landscapes, rural living, and the carefree drug and sex culture. So even if Easy Rider gives us a glimpse into areas of America that are not mainstream (for a lack of a better word), it's still a film about American culture.
In fact, there really isn't much of a story to follow or characters to see undergo some kind of journey. If I were to summarize the plot and characters in two sentences, it would be this. Two drifting motorcycle-riding hippies named Wyatt and Billy, played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper respectively, travel from Los Angeles to New Orleans in search of freedom, living off money that they've made through a big drug deal. On the way, they meet a variety of people, including a hitchhiker looking to return to a commune he's a part of, a country man with a Mexican wife and Mexican children, and a jailed lawyer named George Hanson, played by Jack Nicholson.
Since there wasn't any kind of real progression in the story and characters to follow, I found myself seeing Easy Rider as simply a series of snapshots. In other words, each scene portrays life in a given moment. Wyatt and Billy may be camping out in a desert away from any American city or town, chatting over a campfire, or riding along some long stretch of American road. Speaking of which, I just loved the various landscape shots during the road trip scenes. It reminded me of how beautiful American can be.
As for how the movie ends, it is rather interesting. Without giving away too much, Wyatt and Billy finally arrive in New Orleans. They are there to celebrate good times while Mardi Gras is taking place. They soon have wild experiences that make them reach a sort of epiphany. Afterwards, they continue riding their motorcycles towards whatever their next destination is. And I'm going to leave it at that. Let's just say that the film ends on an unforgettable note about how the rest of society views members of the American counterculture.
Easy Rider is essentially an easy-going film. Is it an outstanding movie? Not really. But is it good enough? Sure. It's also important to consider that Dennis Hopper also directed Easy Rider and that it's the first film he directed. Given that, it's quite remarkable what he did here. He has given us something that is visually pleasing, whether it's the scenery or the characters doing their thing. As much as I'm not very thrilled by Easy Rider, I can understand when some people call it a notable film that has essentially changed Hollywood.
For more information about Easy Rider, visit the Internet Movie Database.