Saturday, June 4, 2011

Easy Rider

"I never wanted to be anybody else."

When people nowadays watch Easy Rider, it just screams "retro," whereas when it was initially released it was considered exceptionally modern. This film was relatively experimental, even for its time, and filled with lens flares, telephoto zooms and dissonant cuts. What makes Easy Rider so enticing is that the creators, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, truly believed in their vision and in their film.
Easy Rider is a visual ballad following two men on a cross-country motorcycle expedition. Along the way they encounter two important strangers, a hitchhiker who takes them to a commune and an idiosyncratic lawyer, played by Jack Nicholson.
The stand-out element in this film by far is the editing. It is almost solely what gives this film its style. When so many movies concentrate on continuity, the disconnects in Easy Rider's cuts are jarring and exciting. The cinematography, by Laszlo Kovacs, is at times breathtaking. There was little artificial light used in the making of this film. Instead, Kovacs brought out the beauty of natural light in the landscape. The musical choices were also great, I mean who doesn't get filled with joy watching two guys ride motorcycles down an open highway with Levon Helm crooning in the background? Oh and also, you can't beat the costume design in this movie. Dennis Hopper's shell necklace and incredible mustache prove my point.
You may want to stop reading now if you haven't seen this film, because I have to discuss the ending. I thoroughly enjoyed the first hour and fifteen minutes or so of Easy Rider. The first 45 minutes are visually stunning, and the next half hour is full of intriguing conversation. But because Jack Nicholson's character is the only truly interesting one in the film, after he is killed, i feel like the plot fell flat. The ending is comprised of a ten minute acid trip in a New Orleans cemetery (that isn't very compelling), and Peter Fonda's character realizing the futility of his and his friend's lives. In the very end, the two men are shot to death on their motorcycles by a couple of hippie-hating locals. I have to say, I don't really get the ending. I feel like the movie would have upheld the same themes if the two men had just continued riding. I mean I guess it shows that the world is filled with hatred? Or that their lives really didn't matter? As far as story goes anyway, the ending was not satisfying at all. If anyone disagrees or would like to give me an interpretation, I would welcome it.
I still enjoyed the majority of Easy Rider, however, as it is a very stylistically innovative and interesting film.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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