Easy Rider (1969) Directed by Dennis Hopper. With Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Luke Askew and Jack Nicholson.
The dirt, the dust, the grease and the aggressive sound of revving engines fighting for attention with a great soundtrack, all contribute to making actor/writer/director Dennis Hooper’s Easy Rider, an authentic piece of rough-edged, experimental, improvisationally loose film-making, that has become so much more than the sum of its parts, over the years.
In keeping with the drug induced, free-spirited theme of the film, the whole piece has a very fluid feel to it, with no direct narrative, as such, to hinge on, just a journey of two friends out to explore the wider world. And what an exploration it is. In truth, if the film were 90-odd minutes of just Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, tearing across the breathtaking scenery on their choppers to a rock soundtrack, that’d be enough.
Thankfully, there is more to it than that. Jack Nicholson turns in a fine supporting performance, forcing us, as ever, into hanging on his character’s every word, especially so a camp-fire conversation with Hopper’s characters about UFO’s and aliens living among us.
Ultimately, Easy Rider is sticking its middle finger up to the bigots and the intolerant. It’s in love the beauty of the natural landscapes, rock music and the old west. Its characters are cowboys on their steel horses, riding into town, feared and loved in equal measure for what they represent. There is sadness among the escapism, though, and while the film makes a broad and beautiful statement about finding the courage to be who you are, the final 15mins are a bitter pill to swallow. 3.5/5