Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's turned into one huge lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a river-rafting trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.
Two young "hippie" bikers, Wyatt and Billy sell some dope in Southern California, stash their money away in their gas-tank and set off for a trip across America, on their own personal odyssey looking for a way to lead their lives. On the journey they encounter bigotry and hatred from small-town communities who despise and fear their non-conformism. However Wyatt and Billy also discover people attempting 'alternative lifestyles' who are resisting this narrow-mindedness, there is always a question mark over the future survival of these drop-out groups. The gentle hippie community who thank God for 'a place to stand' are living their own unreal dream. The rancher they encounter and his Mexican wife are hard-pushed to make ends meet. Even LSD turns sour when the trip is a bad one. Death comes to seem the only freedom. When they arrive at a diner in a small town, they are insulted by the local rednecks as weirdo degenerates. They are arrested on some minor pretext by the local sheriff and ... Written by
Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider is often cited as being an all time classic, and while I don't think this is a great film in terms of technical brilliance, it sums up the era it was made and the tongue in cheek, cynical take on the 'American dream' is both potent and well done. This film is very much a product of the sixties and, like many things from the decade, will always be fondly remembered. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, men of substance and substance abuse, wrote the film together and Hopper directed it. These two were obviously in the thick of what was cool in the sixties, and that gives the film an element of authenticity as we feel like what we're seeing isn't too far away from the things really going on at that time. The plot is simple and more just a base for the film to deliver it's real sting than anything else. It follows two motorbike riders on their way from Los Angeles to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We follow their exploits as they travel the country meeting various people including, most notably, George Hanson; an offbeat lawyer, played by the great Jack Nicholson.
The American Dream has always been about freedom. But like George Hanson says; it's one thing to talk about being free, but something else entirely to actually be it. That's the theme of the entire movie, and the way that it plays out, and the ending especially, aptly portray the difference between saying something and actually doing it. The acting performances are a big part of the movie, and the two leads; Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper stick out the most. The two actors brilliantly get into their characters, and after a while you forget that you're watching actors and start to think that these people really are these characters. Jack Nicholson turns up halfway through and steals the show. It's not hard to see why this actor went on to become one of the best of all time. Even here, he shows his charisma and ability to steal the show and that is what he would go on to become famous for doing later in his career. Last but not least, another great thing about Easy Rider is the music. Music was, of course, a big thing in the sixties; and it's a big thing about this movie. Classic rock accompanies the pictures of the two men rider their bikes, and it's very cool indeed. On the whole, this film is an out and out classic.
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