Sunday, 30 March 2014

Easy Rider (1969)

Perhaps the seminal counterculture film, Easy Rider has a great soundtrack, and some lush, evocative photography. It's also got some really annoying flash cuts, the flimsiest of plots, and an abrupt and arbitrary ending.

I suspect, given the aural and visual strengths of the film, that this was a great movie to get high to and just let the film wash over you. I don't intend to actually test that hypothesis however, so it will have to remain just a suspicion.

Watching the film while stone cold sober, I was still able to enjoy the soundtrack, and many of the well-shot scenes of Americana. The rest of the film, though, fell a bit flat and empty. The plot doesn't really develop past 'Two drug runners go on a motorcyle trip in the deep south and bump into various people as they do so'. It's mainly just a lot of time spent on riding motorcycles and smoking weed, until they get to New Orleans and do some LSD with a couple of prostitutes for a change of pace.

Given that the film is over 40 years old, I can see how it would have created a stir when it was released. It featured a couple of big name actors, top notch music, and excellent technical work. The film looks and sounds like a big budget Hollywood picture, except for the subject matter. The idea that such topics - drugs, free love, and so on - could be covered so openly, and in a more-or-less positive way, by the likes of Peter Fonda was probably pretty mind-blowing.

Today, of course, such matters are much less confronting and unusual in film, and a lot of the movie's emotional power is probably lost because of that. See it only if you're curious about a piece of film history.

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