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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Jack Nicholson
Peter Fonda
Dennis Hopper.
Directors
Dennis Hopper.
Screenwriters
Dennis Hopper
Peter Fonda
Terry Southern.
Running Time
94 minutes

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Easy Rider
Two guys on bikes examine America through a haze of dope


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Plot
Two counter-culture bikers set off from Los Angeles to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, meeting a cross-section of American characters en route.


Review

Justly celebrated as the film that truly channelled that whole countercultural thing along the downward slope of the sixties, Dennis Hopper’s experimental mishmash of a road movie is flawed by its own concept. It was such a product of its time it feels vacuous and aloof, its so-called greatness exaggerated all out of proportion. So, in approaching the bumpy adventures across the heart of America, or at least its leathery Southern belt, of Captain America (the heroic looking Peter Fonda) and Wolfman (Dennis Hopper looking like he would dance with any devil given the chance) context is everything. This was 1969, the year of Woodstock, the Vietnam War, and the growing discontent in American youth.

What is most apparent is its flagrant deconstruction of what was considered popular cinema. The film is shapeless, a picaresque squall of bizarre encounters between the chopper riding heroes of freedom as they bounce between communes of ‘shroomed hippies, suspicious yokels, to the famous fireside encounter with a booze-riddled lawyer played by Jack Nicholson. To be fair, the film isn’t a  dope session, for each woozy slab of drop-out bliss the film counters with a growing sense of dysfunction. These easy riders are looking for an answer that can’t ever be located. They harken to the call of doom.

The open depiction of drugs and drug culture drenched the film in controversy, but what irritates is not the moral dimension more than using such an alternative lifestyle as an excuse to labour the intelligent design with wafty, pointless psychedlia. The New Orleans section, where they are tripping on LSD and hook up with Toni Basil and Karen Black, is a near unwatchable wobble through the filmmakers’ genuine whacked-out adventures shot a year prior to the rest of the film. Hopper probably felt it was outrageously daring, but it drives a huge spoke into the film’s spinning wheels. Thus, while you cannot dismiss its place in history, its power is in what it represented rather than what it did.

 


Extras

Easy Rider Easy Rider
Released: 10 January 2000
Both Hopper's rasping but illuminating commentary and a frank and fascinating 67 minute documentary build a picture of a shoot every bit as dramatic as its resultant movie. In fact, there are endless parallels; they were engulfed in tribulation and chaos but driven by a vague vision of greatness. Hopper and Fonda would irrevocably fall out in a wired 16mm New Orleans sojourn, and a dreamy Fonda depicts an insane vision of him strumming an acoustic guitar naked in bed with co-stars Karen Black and Toni Basil, while Hopper in a blind fury was rolling around the hotel corridor trying to deck his cameraman, shrieking that Orson Welles may have failed to shoot Mardi Gras, but he wasn't going to. It's the stuff of legend.


Verdict
Remastered for DVD, this is a glorious widescreen vision of a hot and bothered America, at once beautiful and lost. Yes, it has dated, but its pessimistic last gasp ("We blew it...") still carries a prescient sting.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Easy Rider
Empire Star Rating

It still is thé ultimate road movie, thought that it was better now than it was when I fist saw it last year. Hopper and Fonda show is everything that there is and (especially) isn`t good about the (relative) freedom you have on such a roadtrip through the beautiful landscapes of the USA. With an excellent soundtrack and strong acting performances (with a brilliant Jack Nicholson), this is an absolute classic and must-own/ 9,5/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:18, 21 January 2011 | Report This Post


Easy Rider!

Great movie. Perhaps more influential than it is good but c'mon....Hopper...Fonda...Nicholson....you can't go wrong!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by krisjcummins at 20:48, 02 May 2010 | Report This Post


tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064276/]Easy Riders so often in these kind of movies, the story isn`t the most important aspect of the film. It`s not about the destination, it`s about how you get there." Dennis Hopper sees Easy Rider more as a classic western and has accordingly named his lead characters Billy and Wyatt, after Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp. As two cowboys the travel through the country, on their way to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. On their way they end up in a commune be... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 22:24, 13 January 2010 | Report This Post


"Parading without a permit! Don't you know who we are, man? This is Captain America.... I'm Billy!" My favourite movie line ever. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Rivers Euphrates at 11:20, 14 March 2007 | Report This Post


One of the most important sixties movies

Some aspects of Hoppers movie have dated, but the beautiful cinematography and great performances really give an idea of the time it was made, and how it seemed to be in that country about then. great performance (as always0 by Jack Nicholson. And the credits sequence with steppenwolf's 'Born to be wild' is a definite classic.. Last five movies watched: Easy Rider **** Dawn Of The Dead(2004) **** Sleepy Hollow **** Jackass 2 * Casino Royale **** ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cadz at 19:32, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


One of the most important sixties movies

Some aspects of Hoppers movie have dated, but the beautiful cinematography and great performances really give an idea of the time it was made, and how it seemed to be in that country about then. great performance (as always0 by Jack Nicholson. And the credits sequence with steppenwolf's 'Born to be wild' is a definite classic.. Last five movies watched: Easy Rider **** Dawn Of The Dead(2004) **** Sleepy Hollow **** Jackass 2 * Casino Royale **** ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cadz at 19:32, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


A great biker movie

*** This comment does contain spoilers and the ending *** I have to warn again that the following statement contains the ending. So if you wanna find out for yourself look away! I'm from England, and I saw this movie on the T.V. a couple of nights and managed to capture it on VHS (I'll get it on DVD soon). And when I saw this Dennis Hopper-directed movie I was astonished at the brilliant soundtrack and the brilliant acting from (Peter) Fonda and (Dennis) Hopper. The movie also has Jack Nich... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tarantinoscorcese1 at 08:13, 31 May 2006 | Report This Post


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