Easy Rider (1969) Poster

(1969)

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9/10
This film was a rite of passage
rjbrad17 August 2005
I cannot overstate the importance of this movie in my personal development.

In 1969 I was eighteen and a freshman at Cambridge University. I was also a near-fundamentalist and a member of the Christian Union. Its officials decreed that Easy Rider was unsuitable for Christian viewing; I'd seen some enthusiastic reviews which made me curious. Moral and spiritual dilemma followed. To view or not to view? I prayed about it - look, this is a long time ago, right - and decided that if it had been OK for the Christian Union's leaders to see it, if only to realise it was morally dubious, then it was OK for me. They hadn't been corrupted, presumably; the Lord would see that I wasn't either.

So I went and it blew me away. I thought then and think now, that this is a magnificently perceptive commentary on hippie culture and one that only the medium of film can deliver. Naive idealism is weighed against the squalid reality of drugs (and indeed alcohol). Freedom is portrayed as often aimless, self-indulgent and downright boring. The underlying morality could be seen as puritanical: a celebration of the free-lovin' drop-out Sixties it ain't, more a weary end-of-decade critique thereof. I would have thought there was much to commend it to the Christian Union moralisers, yet as ever they couldn't see past the surface - drug abuse, loose women. Yet it has its high moments, in more ways than one, and is always a treat for the eyes.

My decision to defy the Christian Union by seeing the film was an early step out of my fundamentalist prison and I haven't stopped walking yet. No-one's ever going to tell me what I can and can't watch again: nor will I censor anyone else's viewing. I'm still a believer, but not of the kind that the Christian Union would have thought will ever go to heaven. Guess I'll have to live with that.
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Delonga229 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Wyatt was a character that you could connect with because he wanted to find something better than what life offered so far. The image that struck out the most to me was this idea of the cities versus the open road and expansive valleys. I noticed that when they were on the open road they were meeting interesting down to earth people that shared similar ideas with them. They come across the farming family that sit down for family meals and live off of the land. Wyatt seemed to admire this idea of living off the land and the willingness to offer them food and a place to sit while most people would turn strangers away. The family did not stereotype them or disrespect them because of the way they looked.

At the point in the movie when they picked up the hitchhiker you could tell the distrust that people had towards each other. Billy did not trust the man even though the man was simply trying to do them a favor. Trust in fellow human beings was something rare during the time and it seemed like kind acts were suspicious acts. Billy was not a trusting person but he was also a little bit paranoid, while Wyatt was willing to believe in the goodness of people and give them a chance before judging them. Wyatt figured that the trust had to start somewhere.

We can tell when the close minded communities are coming in to play because we are leaving the open road and coming to the small enclosed streets. When they run into George he is their saving grace from this small town. George offers a new perspective for Billy and Wyatt because he is a suit that does not judge them but he acknowledges the prejudices against them. He gives them the first straight answer they will receive on the way the world works. George's character was really refreshing and it was interesting that he is the one that gets killed by people that he 'represents.' I thought that the scene when they finally get to New Orleans and are tripping the cemetery is really telling of how religion was viewed by Wyatt and Billy. They are tripping and sitting on statues and graves and the girls start to take their clothes off while they run around and curse their parents and the world in the middle of funeral services. At one point Wyatt looks up at a statue and sees a great ball of fire crashing to the earth. This is an omen of how is life will end and it almost seemed like god was scorning them or something with that flash of fire kind of like the apocalypse.

An aspect of the filming that I found interesting was the transitions that they used to go from scene to scene. The characters would be sitting by the camp fire and then to go to then next scene of them riding off was the three panic-like shots of the incoming scene. I thought that this method went well with the film and the characters because they were always changing scenery in search for something more. They were restless souls with no limits but they do not find clarity in the end. Wyatt felt that their experience in Orleans was not what they had expected and that they had failed but the question of what they had failed at was something that could be many different things. Easy Rider was a shocking film in a good way a film that many youths relate to because of the sense of restlessness and the need to live and be real.
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8/10
The American Dream/Nightmare
The_Void25 August 2005
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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9/10
An American Classic
Jill-6820 February 2001
Over time, this rough diamond of a film has become a real gem in my collection. When I first saw it at the theater, I remember liking the anti-establishment attitude and the rock music soundtrack. Later, on T.V., I remember thinking what a great actor Jack Nicholson was...and how terribly low-budget the rest of the film appeared.

And now, over 30 years later....it's one of my favorite movies of all time. Peter Fonda tries to be Everyman....but he's really the most insecure individual of the group. His cathartic trip at the cemetary in New Orleans is embarrassingly honest to watch. His search is not for individual freedom...his search is for a family. And yet, he is always the outsider, the observer.

Dennis Hopper is the sidekick, the fool. And like a fool, he cannot hide his thoughts behind a socially acceptable demeanor. He constantly says exactly what he thinks. He has little patience for flower children, pretentious intellectuals, coy women, law officers, drunks in jail, or rednecks passing him on the road. Like a fool, he is doomed. Jack Nicholson is the core of the film. He does not appear until halfway through the bikers' odyssey, but the trip will not make sense until his face rises up from the jailhouse cot to peer bleary-eyed at his surroundings. He is the innocent man of this group....he is the AMERICAN. This movie is just another road picture, the way ON THE ROAD by Kerouac was just another travel book. This little counterculture movie is an American Classic.
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8/10
This used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it.
Andy (film-critic)25 September 2004
I was utterly surprised by this film. I was expecting nothing more than some short scenes of our now-infamous actors smoking marijuana followed by trippy Willy Wonka scenes . Oddly, this did occur, but this film was much more than that. This film should be shown in every American History class in the United States. It not only showed the beauty of the country of which we reside, but it also spoke about the people that reside in it. You know the old saying, 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people', well after watching this film, it is a very true statement. We are afraid of what is different. We are a culture that is afraid of change, yet seek it so badly. We are a society of hypocrites, androids, and ignorants. We thrive on the fact that we are the best country in the world, yet somebody shows any disassociation of routine, we are the first to question and get angry. I would dare say that we have moved so far from the 60s that I cannot see why our parents do not cry everyday. Their generations was a free-spirited, mind challenging culture that explored all possibilities no matter the cost. The experience was all they needed as a reward. Now, we are more concerned about money and the family-plan that we sometimes place ourselves on the backburner to life. Wake, eat, and pay the bills. What a sad daily structure that we have. When was the last time you considered the possibility of just jumping on your bike and riding until you hit water? Probably not for a long time … why? It is called 'bills' and 'responsibilities'. These are the choices that we chose to make, and for anyone to say that they cannot do it, I would have to challenge. You CAN do anything, it is whether you chose to do it is another question. I wonder what it will be like in another 30 years. Where will we be, and will the idea of individualism be lost? I can't wait to see …

Outside of the deeply rooted themes of this film, I felt that Hopper (who also directed) knew exactly what he was doing behind the camera. He kept the talking short, the music loud and symbolic, and allowed the background to do the explaining. I loved the fact that we really knew nothing about Fonda or Hopper's characters. It allowed us to relate to them. You could easily add your story into their characters and have the life that you lead and wish to escape. Hopper was able to transform this film from a drug movie to a film about humanity. Fonda, who also helped write the film with Hopper, did a superb job of adding Nicholson's character into the mix.

Nicholson represented us, the American public and our love of liquor, football, and lies. I viewed Nicholson as the average American. He drank too much, was the product of a wealthy upbringing, but did not know much about the world. He was sheltered. He never smoked weed (in fact didn't even know what it was when presented to him), never left the state line, and never lived life. He constantly used the expression, 'I have always wanted to …'. How many times do you hear this a day from either a family member or a co-worker? If you always wanted to do it, why haven't you? So, here we have Hanson, dreaming a dream but never following through, who is traveling with two guys that live the ultimate life and live by their own rules. They are complete opposites, but Hanson's words seemed to remain in my mind for a long time. He reminded me of one of my wife's students today that spoke about freedom. He knew exactly what it was, but never practiced it. Hopper and Fonda were walking (driving most of the time) representations of the word 'freedom'. It is tragic what happens to Harmon, because he (unfortunately) experienced the negative side of freedom … hatred and fear of the unknown.

There was one scene that just jumped out at me. It occurs in the diner before the incident later that night where our travelers experience hatred in the country they admire so much. They go from peace and love to fear and hate. It is as if they witnessed night and day. It was frightening to hear the words coming from people in that restaurant. It was not only scary to wonder what was going to happen to our narrators, but mainly that people were speaking that way to fellow citizens. I know that it still occurs today, and it is surprising to me. We bomb a country because they do not follow the same principles that we do, but we need to start asking ourselves this question … do we need another United States?

Grade: ***** out of *****
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9/10
A Far Out Document of the late 60's Encapsulates Counter-Culture America.
Donald J. Lamb20 January 2000
Not many films have documented an era of American culture the way it must have really been. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES captured the reality of the post-war 1940's. TAXI DRIVER is a masterpiece of social distortion and paranoia exemplary of the 1970's. No film other than EASY RIDER captures the late 1960's as seen by the American counter-culture. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper's story of two men who go in search of America and 'freedom' is a bona fide sign of the times. I may not have been around at the time, but it is great to see a film portraying the long-haired, hippie attitude towards an America in turmoil in the form of a biker flick, circa 1969.

EASY RIDER is an exploration of vast and desolate parts of the country. Of course, the stop at Mardi Gras is a necessity, but what Fonda and director Hopper are trying to tell us is that there was no 'freedom' as they saw it. The sprawling journey shows filmgoers the multiple frictions and shattered idealism of a generation in the midst of cultural change. Sex, drugs, and music were exploding socially and 1960's ideology may have come to an end in 1969, literally and figuratively speaking - much like it shockingly does in this film.

Peter Fonda plays cool "Captain America", otherwise known as Wyatt, while Hopper is a paranoid prophet of the hippies as "Billy the Kid". The stunning DVD version of the film notes the importance of Laszlo Kovacs, the director of photography. Much of the film consists of Kovacs' simple shooting of the riders as they travel spiraling highways and bigoted backroads. It is some beautiful footage and essential to the trip. A major deal is made, much grass is smoked, and the film takes off from there. Their ultimate goal is never clearly defined, but Fonda's final comment to Hopper may sum it up for viewers. Did they find what America was supposed to be about? I guess not according to Fonda.

There is a surreal experience at a commune the Kid and Wyatt stop at. These scenes are out of a Fellini film. One significant shot paints the commune with a 360 degree pan across the faces of the live-in hippies. The expressions on the faces all seem different, some grinning, others just zoned out. Kovac's amazing camera work (especially on the road with the bikes) along with a virtual who's who in rock music of the late 60's makes for a sometimes visceral filmgoing experience. The immortal 'Born to be Wild' blares over the opening title sequence and everyone from Hendrix to The Byrds are heard throughout.

EASY RIDER also contains one of Jack Nicholson's 2 or 3 most memorable performances, even to this day. As drunken lawyer "George Hanson", he creates an amazingly funny and perfect counterpoint to Hopper and Fonda. He realizes what the general public can think of the "long-hairs" and puts himself in danger just by traveling with them. A bizarre notion of alien presence in the U.S. government is part of a hilarious conversation Nicholson and Hopper have over Whiskey and smoke. His scenes on Fonda's chopper with the golden football helmet are absolute, cinematic classics.

Credit must be given to Fonda, Hopper, Nicholson, Kovacs, and Terry Southern for giving a new face to movie-making. They captured the era in a raw, jump cutting fashion. Maybe the hippies were not entirely right by trying to live off the land, or smoking dope all the time, but they may have been onto something.

RATING: ***1/2
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more than meets the eye
buby19875 March 1999
There is so much going on in the multi-layered Easy Rider. For one thing, it doesn't glorify hippies. In fact, Hopper and Fonda are really just businessmen, out to make the big score. They're quintessentially American -- Fonda calls himself Captain America, and wears an American flag on his leather jacket, and has red, white and blue painted on his chopper's gas tank. These guys really just want to make money, not change society. If it were the 80's, they'd be selling computers. Also, some interesting symbolism -- Fonda puts the stash of money resulting from the drug sale in his gas tank -- in other words, money fuels the American dream.

This film is also an anti-Western. Instead of heading west, these guys head east. They pass through Monument Valley, site of many John Ford westerns. At an early point, they fix their choppers in a barn while a farmer fixes the horseshoes for his horse.

There is a structure to this seemingly freewheeling tale: the trip starts out idealistically. After they go to the commune, Fonda and Hopper skinny-dip with two hippie chicks in a bucolic, peaceful setting. The music is laid-back, the Byrds, the drug used is marijuana. It's an idealized example of "free love." Later, in New Orleans, our two heroes hook up with two prostitutes -- so much for free love. Fonda breaks down during an acid trip, and instead of music we hear the jarring sounds of an industrial, urbanized landscape -- geographically and symbolically far away from that Arizona commune.

This film doesn't glorify the hippie ethos -- in fact, it almost seems like a neo-conservative critique on the limitations of the hippie experience. Late in the film, Fonda tells Hopper, "We blew it," a line that prefigures the ultimate disillusionment that set in during the early 70's, when the Age of Aquarius gave way to Watergate, malaise, Reagan and rampant consumerism.
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A generation-defining counter-culture classic!
Infofreak4 November 2002
'Easy Rider' is much more than a 60s relic - it's still a great movie even today. I find it fascinating that Hopper and Fonda took Roger Corman material and gave it an arthouse approach influenced by Godard and the French New Wave. Combined with breathtaking visuals, a well chosen rock soundtrack and some classic, stoned, improvised dialogue this is still an impressive movie all these years later. Fonda had recently made 'The Wild Angels', Hopper the less remembered 'The Glory Stompers', and Jack Nicholson 'Hells Angels On Wheels', but 'Easy Rider' reinvented the biker movie, and things were never quite the same in Hollywood for the rest of the Seventies. The supporting cast is interesting and includes a great role for the fantastically underrated Luke Askew as the "Stranger on Highway", and cameos from the stars buddies Luana Anders ('Dementia 13') and Sabrina Scharf (Nicholson's love interest in 'Hells Angels On Wheels'), as well Karen Black and Toni Basil's New Orleans hookers, Phil Spector's coke snorting bit part, and a fleeting glimpse of a young Grizzly Adams. You either love this movie or you don't, and I'm most definitely in the former camp. A 1960s generation-defining counter-culture classic!
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9/10
Spaced - Out Bikers
Lechuguilla12 December 2004
In this counterculture film, we have a spaced-out trio of Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and a funny Jack Nicholson tooling down the "high"way, on motorcycles and "stuff", en route from L.A. to Mardi Gras. As artistic expression during an angry era of war and social change, the film communicates a powerful philosophy, in lieu of a complex plot.

Most scenes take place outdoors, in the American South and Southwest. Laszlo Kovacs' adroit cinematography, combined with an expansive soundtrack, hippie lingo, and "cool" clothes, convey the film's underlying message of individual freedom and nonconformity. The film is significant in that it was one of several successful 60's films made by individuals outside the traditional Hollywood studio structure. As such, "Easy Rider" broke new ground in film-making.
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9/10
The Myth of the American Dream
evanston_dad20 February 2007
"Easy Rider" likely made a generation of young men want to take to the road on motorbikes, sticking it to the man and living the American dream. And today, it's viewed nostalgically as a relic from a simpler, more innocent time. But I think it's wrong to read the film this way, and robs it of much of its impact. "Easy Rider" isn't about living the American dream; it's about finding out there is no such thing.

That's what I like most about this movie. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda could have made a smug, alienating critique on bourgeois American culture, and it's rather surprising that they didn't. Instead, they made a disturbing film with a big heart at its center, about two drifters who go out in search of what makes America great, and find that there's no place in it for them. The ending packs a wallop, and I'm always amazed that two newbies who were probably both loopy most of the time on drugs could manage to put together such a strong, resonant film.

Jack Nicholson appears in a supporting role as another drifter the two pick up on their travels, and the always fascinating Karen Black appears briefly as well as one of their female companions.

Grade: A
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10/10
A Flawed Masterpiece
juanathan11 July 2005
To me, a flawed masterpiece is a film that is not perfect but by the end achieves something so great it overcomes its' flaws. The two films I can honestly say that about are Lars Von Trier's Dancer In The Dark and Easy Rider. Easy Rider perfectly defines it.

The flaws: Well, the first half although entertaining it pointless. They basically just ride around and pick up hippies and go to a commune. Peter Fonda although he looks the part but for some reason something seemed missing from his character. Also, in the beginning there is a pretty annoying editing technique which they luckily soon abandon.

The film really gets astounding in the second half. The whole film is shot very well by DP Laszlo Kovacs and the music might be one of the best soundtracks ever in film. I might even buy it. The film is filled with genuinely poetic ideas. Jack Nicholson gives a star making performance and Dennis Hopper is once again and forever THE MAN. This film is filled with many biblical metaphors which never came off as pretentious but very powerful. The film is filled with very strong visuals. No wonder Dennis Hopper once wanted to work with Alejandro Jodorwsky. The ending is might be the best part of the movie. It is almost the ultimate "what the f*ck?' moment in history, but for such a chaotic film it fits perfectly. The ending is also powerful. It represented to me the end of a generation.

Well okay. This movie I know will definitely not please everybody but for those who are open minded and into visually driven films, this film will certainly live up to its' title as one of the most influential films in American history.
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10/10
My favorite movie of all time...
Quag722 January 1999
Too often this film is relegated to retro documentaries and cheap nostalgia for an era too often reduced to its superficial artifacts (flower power, popular music).

I was born in 1972, three years after this film was made, but the themes in it are still relevant and important to me. Maybe I'm the last of a certain kind of American; someone wondering about what's still possible in the USA, and searching for the realized potential of the American Dream. Perhaps what has changed since this film was released is that freedom - that is, real freedom, just doesn't matter as much to people as it once did. Self-enslavement is a popular past-time for today's numb middle class; a group of people who, I am convinced, do not dream when they sleep.

This movie defined the road film genre, even though it was not the first of its kind. I owe a debt of gratitude to Fonda, Nicholson, and Hopper for pointing out a very real truth about America and its often twisted approach to "freedom." By any standard, this is a film which should not be missed. It is a film I wish I had written myself.
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2/10
Great movie... if you're tripping on acid/shrooms.
NOXiFy23 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I really disliked this movie. From beginning to end. It really doesn't have much of a plot or a structure to it, the movie follows two best friends who ride around and sell cocaine. The story lacked a real cause and I couldn't justify myself ever watching it again. The filming and audio was great but the actual story was absolutely terrible. The movie was most likely shot for someone to do a psychedelic drug and then watch the movie because that's honestly the only way somebody could possibly like a movie as terrible as this one.

Like I stated, it gets a 2 out of 10 for having no plot and being an overall terrible movie. Would NOT see again or recommend.
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A Misunderstood Classic
SteveB Ohio29 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, I just watched this movie for the first time in 30 years. The first time I saw it, I thought it was just a jumble of drug-induced fantasies made by some spoiled rich kids. Now that I've seen it again after all those years of historical perspective, I now see that it was truly a work of genius.

Possible Spoiler!

It isn't just a social commentary on the bigotry and hypocricy of the 1960's toward the "long hairs." Underneath all the "groovy, man" hippie dialog and constant drug use, you can see the real purpose of the film: It is a simple but powerful statement of the futility of going down the wrong path in search of the American dream.

It starts out with our two "righteous" heroes scoring some big cash by smuggling drugs out of Mexico. Their dream is to go to Mardi Gras for a big party and then "retire" in Florida with their ill-gotten money. In spite of their crime, they are portrayed as innocent and gentle young men in search of personal freedom. In the course of their journey, they experience several different lifestyles, none of which truly satisfies them. They spend time at a hippie commune; which they find to be full of weird people who, instead of being truly free, are struggling for their very survival. They go on an lsd-enhanced romp with some prostitutes in a New Orleans cemetery, which turns out to be a real downer for them. They get exposed to verbal abuse and even violence by the rednecks in several towns along the way. They connect with a drunk, but very insightful, lawyer who is unsure of his own place in the world. When it seems that he will start making a difference in the lives of our heroes, he is brutally beaten to death by some rednecks from the town they had all stopped in earlier that day.

The only positive experience they have is when they stop to fix a flat tire at the farm of a God-fearing man and his family in the rural southwest. While sharing a meal with them, Peter Fonda's character compliments the man about how he has his life all together, even though they are generations apart in lifestyle.

So why are our heroes going through all of this? They are searching for their own version of the American Dream. Although they may be motorcycle riding hippies of the counterculture of the 1960's, their goal was to make some quick money so that they could retire from the worries of life. It is very symbolic that they kept their drug-earned money hidded in one bike's gasoline tank that is painted with an American flag. Rather than conforming to the world of the time by getting haircuts and finding jobs, they pursue their dream by getting some quick money and seeking the freedom to enjoy themselves for the rest of their lives. The dream is the same, the motives are the same, but the methods are different.

At the end they realize that they are really no different from the culture they sought to escape from. Peter Fonda's character sums it all up with the simple line, "We blew it" toward the end of the movie. Shortly after that is the famous scene of them getting blown away with a shotgun by some ignorant rednecks in a pickup truck on some southern backcountry road. They start their noble quest in secret with a drug deal, and their quest and very lives are ended in secret on an obscure country road. But their terrible end doesn't happen they find out that the freedom they sought wasn't at all what they expected it would be.

I think this film still has a strong message even today. Many of the social ills of our culture have their roots in the misguided ideals of the 1960's counterculture. Those who think they can become truly free by rejecting the hard-learned principles that served previous generations tend to find that life has a way of enslaving them in other ways.

As to the film, the acting is simple, straightforward and powerful. The dialog is very understated, and leaves a lot to the imagination. The scenery is fantastic, and the music fits the story perfectly. Those who weren't alive during the 1960's may not understand it, but it is still worth watching. Highly recommended!
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Tale of intolerance still relevant today
Alph-225 February 1999
'Easy Rider' makes the simple and valid point that the counter-culture had a lot more to fear from mainstream society than vise-versa.

However, it doesn't achieve this by glorifying the hippie ethos, showing it be ultimately a rather empty and pointless mentality.

What makes the film still relevant and moving is the poignance of a failed search for personal freedom in the supposed 'land of the free'.
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The most overrated movie of all time?
Heavenly Creature19 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
****Spoilers*******

Just because a movie is groundbreaking, that doesn't mean it has to be very good. Easy Rider is the perfect example of this.

It's a shame, really, because it has a lot of good things going for it. The cinematography is fantastic, the soundtrack amazing, and Jack Nicholson's performance is nothing short of spectacular. But up until he comes into the movie, all we get is an extended music video, with some 'deep and meaningful (ie pretentious and boring) dialogue in between. The (extremely long) scene in the hippy commune is physically painful to sit in. The gratuitous drug taking starts to grate after a while, as well.

Nicholson aside, the acting isn't up to much either. It seems to be an extremely cliched view of hippies. All Peter Fonda does is gaze prettily into the distance. Dennis Hopper isn't much better.

From the point when Nicholson comes into it, the action is much better paced. When he dies, there is a mild panic that things will go to how they were before. For a time, it looks like it will. But the terrific acid trip scene pulls things back from the brink, and then we're full set for the finale...

The ending is a classic along the same line as the original Planet of the Apes. It's chilling, horrifying and perfectly executed. To see the whole redneck mentality towards hippies is as insightful as it is tragic. It just seems such a shame that the rest of the film couldn't live up to the values preached at the end.
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Still gets that avant-garde feel after 30 years.
sierra-1126 September 1999
I love road movies. My favorites include "Thelma & Louise" and "Vanishing Point", but "Easy Rider" is in a class all by itself. A movie with Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson in it is hard to disappoint. That scene with Nicholson talking UFO's at the camp fire represents the great actor at his pinnacle. Anyone who has seen that scene surely wouldn't be able to resist inhaling!

The movie started out in an optimistic mood, with Fonda and Hopper setting out to discover America. The audience is naturally drawn into all the excitement. After all, everything that the duo was going through seemed so cool and so within reach too. I try to watch every road scene carefully everytime I play this movie back on my VCR, to try to remember a few spots to see if I could find them in person next time I'm out there in the Southwest. The soundtrack is of course fantastic. What makes it even greater is how well the songs fit the film. After seeing this movie, it's somehow hard to picture Monument Valley without hearing the song "The Weight" in my head.

The Nicholson take on aliens at the camp fire was the high point of the trip. Then things began to turn sour. Very sour. May be that's why I've watched the first half of the movie so much more often than the second half. And I bet I'm not alone. May be that sums up the whole movie pretty well. People are attracted to it because it represents their dream, and we can't bear to watch our dream die.
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10/10
Don't Bogart That Joint My Friend
tpion2 February 2006
The movie Easy Rider which was made in 1969 and directed by Dennis Hopper who was not only the director but also one of the two main characters. The other main character is played by Peter Fonda who along with Hopper wrote the script to the movie Easy Rider. Peter Fonda plays a "Captain America" type of guy, his bike along with his helmet are painted the colors of the American flag, and his leather jacket he wears has a flag sewn into the back of it. Dennis Hopper on the other hand plays more of a hippy role, with his long flowing hair and by the way he dresses we can see a total difference between the two characters. Though these two characters are different they are both on a journey together to travel over the country to experience what real "freedom" was. The only thing they had with them were there hot rod bikes and all there money which was hidden in Wyatt's gas tank. One of the strangers that these two encountered along the way was famous actor Jack Nicholson. Jack played a man by the name of George Hansen who is a lawyer who seems to have a very clear drinking problem. They meet up with him when they get thrown in jail for riding their motorcycles through a parade in the streets of the town they were riding through. From there they go through a series of events which ends up leading to the death of George Hansen (Nicholson). Once Hansen was beaten to death by the town locals who had been hassling them earlier was almost the start of the beginning of the end for the two travelers. The end of the movie comes when the two of them are riding their bikes along the back roads when a couple of "hicks" decided to try and scare them by pointing their shotgun at them. Hopper doesn't even budge but instead gives them the finger, which then leads to him being shot while still riding his bike. Wyatt who was played by Peter Fonda then goes to get help for his dieing buddy. Though he never makes it because the "hicks" so to speak doubled back and as he was going one way they were going the other and shot and killed him as well. Throughout the whole movie I kept pondering in my head what is freedom? And what is freedom in America and will they find it. In the end I don't they did find freedom even though they went all over the country they still were put down or oppressed. They were ridiculed and made fun of at the diner, beaten while they were sleeping because they were different from the locals. Though maybe the freedom they were looking to find was the open road, the way you feel when it's just you and your bike cutting through the air like a knife through warm butter. Maybe freedom for them was the ability to go and do whatever they wanted when they wanted to.
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2/10
I admit I don't "get it"
gmbiz19 January 2009
I found 'Easy Rider' - despite its reputation as groundbreaking - to be 90 minutes of dull pointlessness. Nicholson's short performance not withstanding, the film has basically no plot, very little dialog, and blindly simplistic notions of issues.

The commune scenes left me, admittedly, unclear whether Hopper was attempting to portray them in a positive or negative light. He achieved neither, making the commune's members appear absurdly foolish (c'mon, Hopper said it himself: "It's SAND.") while almost maintaining a bliss that appeared almost cult-like. Was he saying "Yeah, this doesn't work.", "Communes are amazing places where everyone works together for the common good and share their love.", or "Here's a commune, I don't get it either, but make up your own mind." ?

Yes, there were drug scenes, but frankly, they made no impact on me, a child born a year before the film was released. Not a positive, not a negative. (Their choice of locale for an acid trip seemed ... uhhh ... well, dumb. The formula for a bad trip includes "Go to a depressing, sad, frightening place, then hit.")

I've read reviews lauding this film for being outstanding, but so many seem to either launch into political diatribes or interpret the film to directly relate to their own social views that the reviews seemed just disconnected from the film. (A good hint is to notice that nearly everyone who loves the film describes it as "clearly" representing something - yet 'something' is different in each review. You don't need to be a gambler to recognize that the true answer is that 'it probably doesn't mean any of those things'.)

Want a true classic from the same era? Watch 'Midnight Cowboy'.

Yes, now that I've thought about it, I want those 90 minutes of my life back.
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5/10
Less Than Meets The Eye
louis-king22 December 2007
This is not a movie about a couple of mavericks searching for the 'real' America in the late 1960s. Jack Nicholson's character really doesn't say anything profound.

These are 2 drug smugglers who've scored a lot of money and do nothing with it except getting wasted and doing hookers.

I was a theater usher when this movie came out and must have seen it 60 times. It does not represent America in 1969 nor does it represent the South of that time. It gives the worst stereotype of the South which is surprising, since the counterculture is supposed to be free of stereotypes.

During his monologue about America, Nicholson's character says "This used to be a hell of a good country". Oh really? When was the USA better prior to 1969? Was it better in the segregation 1950's? Was it better in the 1930's when lynching was commonplace? Was it better during the Spanish Influenza of 1918 which killed more people than WWI? Was it better in 1900 when much of the country had no electricity, there were no child labor laws? This movie has some good photography, great music, but don't look for any insights here.
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6/10
'Easy Rider' is more of an artifact than a film
Jack Hawkins (Hawkensian)2 December 2012
'Easy Rider' is unquestionably important, it's a seminal film. It was a large contributing factor to the birth of an era of burgeoning talent and art that produced many of the greatest films ever made. Easy Rider is a transgressive, political film; few creations have been so lauded for capturing the zeitgeist.

However, to a modern audience, I feel it's more of an artifact than a film. To be frank, I didn't particularly enjoy it. I didn't find it that interesting, it didn't resonate with me that much. One connection it made with me was how it almost shattered that romanticised idea of riding the highways of America. Well, it didn't shatter it, but it certainly shows the potential emptiness of the experience. I'd still love to drive around America, but I'd gladly ditch the spirituality for clean hotel rooms and nice corpulent plates of Americana. I'd also prefer a muscle car.

So, given its legacy, 'Easy Rider' is a hard film to judge. It would be ignorant of me to totally trash it, but I do think it's overrated, and I wouldn't recommend it to casual viewers.

www.hawkensian.com
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6/10
Hopper goes with the flow
n_r_koch15 January 2007
Though the heroes are bikers, "Easy Rider" is a bit like the fantasy of a very earnest, stressed-out Harvard freshman with family problems. Critics who raved about it back in 1969 needed to have their heads examined. What with all the LSD, some of them eventually did.

Dennis Hopper was no dope, though. This film earned 100 times its cost; it was commercially as shrewd as a Coca-Cola ad. Just as intended, it had young audiences shouting "Right on!" at the screen and paying to see it again. They were the same people who shouted "Right on!" at "The Graduate" and paid to see it again. Back in the day, their grandparents paid to see Erich Von Stroeheim, the Evil Hun, again so they could shout at him too. Their kids just paid to see the equally commercial, manipulative "American Beauty" over and over again-- and then threw a pile of awards at it. Some people never learn.

Hopper's film was commercially shrewd in another way: it attacked ordinary Southern whites, America's Bad Guys in 1969 (before everyone needed their Electoral Votes) in the crudest, most lamebrained possible fashion. This film is still worth seeing, though, if only to see what the fuss was about. The Western panoramas look great and the music is good. Hopper has his usual wacky charm. And Jack Nicholson, the comic relief, takes over the movie while he's in it.
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7/10
They Could Ride A Long Time
daveisit7 December 2000
Portrayed as being ultra cool, the lead roles in "Easy Rider" are awesome. Dennis Hopper is flawless with Jack and the Fonda guy not far behind. These young actors were cementing themselves without possibly wanting or knowing it, as career legends of the big screen.

"Easy Rider" is not a movie I can watch too many times. It moves along at a fairly slow pace, allowing the characters and journey to dictate the mood. However, it is definitely a movie that all with an appreciation of cinema should see. Dennis Hopper steps into the directors role with what appears to be amazing ease, although behind the scenes may not have always been so relaxed.

I would love to ride across the States but I fear I might share the same destiny as the lads in this mellow flick.

7 out of 10.
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3/10
Head out on the highway...
jbacks318 June 2005
I recently saw Easy Rider again after a 25 year gap. I'm afraid what stood out in my mind as THE defining movie of the late 1960's hasn't aged well. To be frank: on a technical level, the movie is horrible. The production values are lousy (I realize it was a low budget job at the time), the script is lame and the photography is, at best, so-so. The acting, aside from the breakout performance of Jack Nicholson, is horrendous... everyone is portrayed as a cliché (OK, so Phil Spector might be dead on, but he's likely playing himself). Easy Rider has a few things that will ensure it's iconic place in movie history: 1) a classic soundtrack 2) Jack Nicholson 3) the 2 principal actors are out shined--and out acted-- by their choppers. Unfortunately, these bright spots are wrapped up in a production that looks like a freshman film school final. A better use of your time is to dump the soundtrack into your iPod--- or if you see the movie, watch the first 5 minutes, skip to Jack Nicholson's all-too-brief appearance then skip to the final 30 seconds... you'll think it's great. The whole thing? 3/10.
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4/10
A film of it's time that should have stayed there.
raypdaley18221 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A few things about this before the actual review. I don't think Peter Fonda is a very experienced rider at all. He wobbles & jerks a lot on the chopper. He looks like he could have done with a lot more practice riding it. Hopper looks the more natural biker of the two.

I didn't fancy staying up to watch this so I taped it. And as is always the way the damn thing started early so I missed a little of the start, Fonda & Hopper were already in the junkyard doing their drug deal, so I don't exactly know about the what's and why's of the start.

The film is a very psychedelic look at late 60's America, It's almost like someone read some Jack Kerouac and decided to make it into a film. The film makes a very definite statement from the moment Fonda drops his watch before they set out on the road. They have no need to measure time or to know anything exact.

They trip happily along having small things happen, A flat tire, picking up a hike-hiker (I almost thought he'd stolen their money when he said the gasoline had been taken care of), Taking him to the commune (that is one weird series of scenes) and then being arrested by the police for crashing a parade.

Finally here they meet Jack Nicolson as a strange southern lawyer who has been arrested and gets them free. They finally wear helmets on their bikes (I assume they are riding through states and counties that have helmet laws) and Nicolson is wearing a Football helmet of all things. Though I guess it would protect him as well in a crash.

During the camp fire discussion about Venusians, I totally got where Robin Williams' Mork got his ideas for "The Friends Of Venus" because he totally sounds like Nicolson. I also noticed later he was doing the whole braces over a t-shirt thing like Mork too.

The scene in the café was heavily laced with bigotry, I'm amazed to think people could have ever been so narrow minded. Even towards people of their own color and very much so to how they spoke about the US flag. It makes me wonder how many people in America still don't seem to realize how long the civil war has been over.

I assume the southern rednecks attacked the riders during the night (even though it seemed like a dream sequence) and they killed Nicolson even though he was most southern and respectable looking of the 3 men.

The visit to the brothel is very quiet, subdued. The scenes play out very quietly like they are hard to perform until they go out onto the streets into the Mardi Gras. For those scenes the film takes on a very amateur film look, not well focused and color looking washed out.

In the graveyard you get another one of the many "Cut-together" shots and very rapidly cut to and from various points of view which is difficult to watch and even harder to pay attention to.

The characters are tripping, some on very bad trips but this quickly cuts to Fonda & Hopper having another fireside scene which seems to make no sense at all and then are back on the road again to somewhere else.

The man who shoots Hopper has no reason, likewise when Fonda is killed. They are just 2 men on motorcycle's who the 2 rednecks take a dislike to and decide to scare them and end up killing them both. The film seems to simply have run out of ideas so they kill the remaining 2 main characters. The whole idea that they were going somewhere with their money to do something is suddenly lost.

I totally didn't notice Toni Basil (yes, the same one of 80's fame who sang Mickey!) as the dark haired hooker Mary. Mind you I did notice Dan Haggerty AKA Grizzly Adams who it turns out built the bikes featured in the film.
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