There are some films that define a generation, and there are some films that really, truly define a generation. Easy Rider is one of those films. Produced by Peter Fonda, directed by Dennis Hopper, and starring the two as chopper-ridin’ would-be travelers looking for the American dream, the film defined the concept of the road movie and sparked a nationwide craze that in many ways continues to this day. Easy Rider is the type of film often on the breath of film buffs, but just how many have seen it, and experienced its splendor for themselves? I hadn’t until just now, and I can happily say that I’m glad I finally did see it, and if you’re looking for an adventure, you will be too.
Right from the opening titles, this film has “cultural icon” splattered all over it. Steppenwolf’s indelible Born to be Wild kicks the film into high gear, and establishes the framework of beautiful tracking shots of the American wilderness, coupled with footage of the boys rolling down the highway to a slew of truly classic tunes that embodies the concept of Americana. Even with its iconography without question, the film still manages to break the mold in just about every conceivable way. The editing is so flashy and in-your-face any critical moviegoer looking for a regular job here would be insulted at the sheer brazenness of the transitions and the style of shooting that occasionally takes over the film and flaunts its moviemaking in your face. All the actors give great and subdued performances, including the two leads, as well as Jack Nicholson in the performance that would first make him a star.
The crashdown of an ending aside, my only problem with the film is one that I can’t really hold against it, as it is kind of the point and purpose of the film, in that there isn’t really any real substance to what’s going on; it is mostly there for padding in between the sots of the two driving down the road. If you’re looking for substance, look elsewhere; this film is all about the ride, the experience, and nothing else. That’s really all that Easy Rider boils down to, so if that’s not your thing, you probably won’t find too much to like about it, but still, this is a seminal work of American cinema, and one that should be and needs to be appreciated for what it does do.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10