Video Review by Liz La Point

“Easy Rider”video43
Directed by Dennis Hopper
Columbia Pictures, 1969
94 minutes

Okay, so I come home from the video store and tell my boyfriend that I’m going to write a review of “Easy Rider”. “For the love of God, woman!!! “Easy Rider” is the Holy Grail of biker flicks! Why don’t you start with something smaller, like the Terminator there’s a motorcycle in that one!” Needless to say, persuasiveness is not something he excels at. So we watched the movie together. It starts off with some drug dealing, then the next thing we know our heroes are hittin’ the road.

I decided to really make it fun and told my boyfriend that he had to take a swig of his beer for every time Billy said “man”. Then I had to stop the movie to run to the liquor store.

The movie has a great soundtrack. For a while there are just scenes of them on the road enjoying the fresh air, the beautiful mountains, and the speed of their bikes, while groovy tunes play. The movie does an excellent job of illustrating what it feels like to be free, to go anywhere, and be anybody. Who hasn’t dreamed of that? At first, though, it felt like I was watching a long and boring music video (and that was before Tony Basil showed up!).

Hopper does a good job of projecting onto film what it feels like to be high (I guess having a lot of personal experience helped.) The movie almost makes you feel high just watching it. My boyfriend decided that he will teach his future children to stay away from drugs by making them watch “Easy Rider”. “See kids. This is how you’ll act if you take drugs. You’ll be out of your mind, screaming and dancing around cemeteries, and every other word that comes out of your mouth will be “man”.”

What I love about “Easy Rider” is the irony in the plot. Especially in the sixties, people were very closed minded and had their bigoted views on bikers, hippies, etc. Psychologists say that hate mongers usually possess the same traits that they displace onto other groups of people as reasons to hate them. This movie clearly exemplifies this phenomenon. The actual bad guys are the townsfolk who assume that our heroes are the bad guys because of their appearances. And talk about a sad ending! I didn’t see it coming.

What bothered me a little was how uneventful their short-lived trip was. Besides the drug trips, they didn’t seem to do much wherever they went. Sure, they visit a hippie commune and have fun with some hookers, but even those experiences were kind of boring. And what was up with that choppy, strobe cutting effect between scenes? That was annoying. Hopper was an inexperienced director at the time, and you can definitely tell.

Although my boyfriend’s final words were “this movie was pretty much the sixties’ version of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, the film left a better impression on me. (And I don’t agree with the Bill and Ted comparison.) It’s a Message Movie, with a positive statement to make to the world. It’s no surprise to me that it went on to gross more then $60 million worldwide. Still, “Easy Rider” is nothing I would get excited to see again.

 

M.M.M.

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