Easy Rider is a 1969 American road film written Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Terry Southern. The film was produced by Fonda himself and directed by Dennis Hopper. Not to mention this was Jack Nicholson’s big break. Easy Rider was a successful counterculture film that helped launch Hollywood’s “New Phase”. The film explores the social differences, issues, and tensions during the 60s.
Nothing is really like Easy Rider, the counterculture story of two bikers on a cross country ride in search of freedom (of the illusion of freedom). Along the way an influx of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The film captures the essence of the time, it defines an era, the way of life, and the perhaps the beginning of the end for the idealistic 1960s.
Easy Rider follows a couple of bikers, Wyatt (Peter Fonda) with his unforgettable bike with the painted American Flag and Billy (Dennis Hopper) as they deal drugs to fund their cross country trip to be a part of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Along the way they encounter a hitchhiker, a hippie, who introduces the duo to a Hippie commune. They also meet what seems to be an alcoholic lawyer, George, who fits perfectly to the group. They end up in a town before arriving to New Orleans with locals who don’t appear to like them based on their looks and assumptions.
Easy Rider was no simple task for me to review simply because I am a kid from the 80s. The idealistic ideas and way of life of the 60s is already a part of history, however, some can say some of the issues portrayed in the film remain to this day. What made Easy Rider film to be remembered was the way it incorporated all things into the film. When the audience felt like they were getting a grasp of the content, the story moved along to another topic. It took me several views to understand what was going on. And just like it starts it ends, abruptly.
The film follows no structure and the script is minimal, everything is freeflow, it’s just them and the road. The performances by the leading actors Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson are spot on. The role of George landed Nicholson his first Oscar nomination. So what did Easy Rider left us? It left an exceptional film that will forever capture an entire era.
Easy Rider is presented using a 1080p with an MPEG4-AVC codec framed at 1.85:1. I was not around to see the original theatrical version of this film, but I can tell you that this transfer is excellent for its age. The film retains the heavy amount of grain that the original work had, however some of the artifacts that appeared on other versions of this film have been removed. The skin tones are natural and healthy. The image is clear and sharp and the colors are nicely reproduced throughout the film. The details are also impressive and you can notice it on the many different textures and scenery found throughout the movie.
Easy Rider boasts a very nice Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. While it’s a film that is not dependent of big special effects it has a few moments were the user would enjoy the lossless track. The dialogue is clean and clear easily reproduced without a problem. There are a few sequences were the rears are nicely used, however, the audio track really excels in the music. The soundtrack is superb; from “Born to be Wild” to “I Wasn’t Born to Follow” the music is a treat. Any fan of the film will instantly recognize the exceptional sound on this Blu-ray.
The film is not loaded with supplements, but let’s see what’s included.
* Audio Commentary – Dennis Hopper talks about the film’s early stages and ideas, shooting locations, writing the script, and much more.
* Easy Rider: Shaking the Cage – This is a hefty documentary that lasts over an hour and it goes in-depth look into the film. The documentary covers from the cast and crew up to the legacy of Easy Rider. Worth a watch.
*BD-Live – What has become a norm for titles the standard BD-Live functionality has been included. You can view several movie trailers.
* MovieIQ – Offers live up-to-date about every scene in Easy Rider plus biographies, soundtrack listings, and more.
While the film doesn’t completely appeal to me personally I can see why is regarded as an American classic. Easy Rider captures the essence of an entire decade, the way of life, and the ideals of the time. Also this film helped launch the career of one of the most iconic figures in Hollywood, Jack Nicholson. This is one of those films that should make its way to any serious film collectors. For the younger crown I recommend at least a rent, but for those looking to relive the times it’s highly recommended.