I thought I knew what to expect from Easy Rider, the ultimate iconic American freedom movie, but I was surprised not only by how the movie itself unfolded, but by how effected by it I was. That might sound silly coming from someone practically chained to her computer, fully entrenched in all the comforts of modern life, but there's something really appealing about the message of freedom and the pull of a seemingly simpler life–to be someone who can throw off her watch and to “…do your own thing in your own time”.
When the film was released in 1969 many people felt the same way, it became a phenomenon and ushered in a whole new generation of independent filmmaking. Directed by Dennis Hopper with an eye for the awesome American landscape, it's as beautiful as it is far out, man.
Still, these guys are real anti heroes, two dudes on the fringes of society who are rarely accepted by the rest of their fellow men; a danger that is made abundantly clear by certain dramatic events and the shocking and abrupt ending that I somehow got through my whole life without knowing about–which I'm still thankful for because it packs so much more impact when it's undiminished by spoilers.
It's funny to think about how everything has played out (click on that link if you want to see Dennis Hopper sell Ameriprise retirement programs). The young men inspired by this film forged a very different future for themselves than the one Peter Fonda's character, who is called Captain America, would ever have dreamt of; something that's joked about in a very funny way in Albert Brooks ingenius Lost in America. When Jack Nicholson's character George Hanson laments that “This used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it”, you can't help but wonder what he'd have to say about America today.
Speaking of Nicholson: I think his portrayal of a drunk southern lawyer might just be my favorite of his career. His introduction is unexpected and his performance adds a whole new dimension to the film with his varsity sweater, football helmet, and crazy drinking noises.
Hopper too is excellent as an almost too realistically caustic outsider who is tempered by the beautiful ocean of calm that is Peter Fonda… If you don't get excited when Fonda goes skinny dipping, you may not be a woman?br/>