Easy Rider (18) | Home Ents Review

Easy Rider

Dir. Dennis Hopper, 1969, USA, 95 mins

Cast: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson

A stable in any film lovers collection, and finally arriving via the Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray collection, Easy Rider, a pivotal moment in cinematic history, with its counterculture sensibilities that featured Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper riding around America on cool motorcycles, parading long hair and bombing along to the hits of Steppenwolf. It oozed “cool” that at that point hadn’t been seen, and was seen as many as the start of a “New Wave” of American cinema in the early 1970s. It was a huge hit in the cinemas and led to many well-known stars and directors from that era that used the blueprint of Easy Rider to form long and successful careers, one notable example is that of Jack Nicholson, who only appearing as a supporting character for roughly 15 to 20 minutes of the film, steals the show completely, and rockets his star into what it is today.

Featuring a Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda commentary track, a Dennis Hooper alone commentary track, interviews and behind-the-scenes documentaries, this collection is fantastic for someone who has never seen this type of film before, and is great for older fans. Hooper’s insight into the production and the style is particularly fascinating due to himself being the director, writer and star. The cinematography is also incredible in capturing various locations throughout the deep South and key US cities, focusing on wide landscapes, road-trip sceneries whilst capturing the heart of the US cross-country journey.

The film is the tale of Billy and Wyatt, who after making a nice tidy sum of money from a drug deal, go on a bike riding journey from LA to New Orleans, on their way to Mardi Gras. Along the way there are encounters with burnt-out towns and burnt-out locals, people high on acid and women flinging themselves at their feet. It shows various sides of the younger generation at that point hating the “American Dream”, tired of the state, not wanting to be part of an ideal that they don’t believe in. It was all about getting high and having fun.

The leads’ interactions with the characters they meet are hilarious at times, especially Nicholson, who in one fantastic scene, with all three actors, pissing on a side of a road, showed a freedom for American filmmakers that hadn’t been seen before, it was an image that struck a nerve with audiences and fellow filmmakers who wanted to experience that freedom and without Easy Rider, so many greats wouldn’t be doing what they do now.

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Easy Rider is released now on Blu-ray.

Author: Simon Childs

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