EASY RIDER The search for freedom on two wheels

easy_rider_xlgEASY RIDER

The search for freedom on two wheels.

The magic of the 60s and 70s transformed the society and all branches of the arts, including film. Films were being made in order to portray the reality of what was happening at the time and to widen the notion of free spirit, but only one film got unanimous recognition as the most iconic: Easy Rider.

Easy Rider is an American film made in 1969 and is classed as one of the first ever road movies, starring Dennis Hopper who also excessively directed, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson,  both almost unknown in their lead roles at the time. From the time of its release it became a reference for a whole generation of young people and supporters of the American counterculture, eager for stories of change that bespoke the desire for a new generation. Its success was overwhelming, winning numerous awards and nominated for many -it received two Oscar nominations: best supporting actor (Jack Nicholson) and best screenplay. In addition, Easy Rider was one of the highest grossing films of its time, earning 100 times more than the initial amount it cost to make.

Dennis HopperWyatt (Peter Fonda), better known as Captain America for his clothing and the colour of his chopper, with his wayward and hairy mate Billy (Dennis Hopper) are two young people who embark on a journey across the United States with the aim to reach the Mardi Gras. By cocaine trafficking at the Mexican border they are able to finance their trip. With their motorcycles the boys embark on a memorable journey that shows them the different faces of American society, its contradictions and miseries. On the way they encounter various and bizarre characters, a rancher and his family, a hippie hitchhiker, and when they end up being arrested in a village for parading without a permit they meet a drunken lawyer (Jack Nicholson) who gets them out of jail and decides to join them on their journey. They continue through the endless roads of the US border, where they continue to stumble across surreal situations, involving an unforgettable psychedelic trip and a finale that depicts the two sides of American society at the time.

It’s said that the shooting was more than chaotic, crazy and without any real logic. The script consisted of a few scattered notes and the crew had to trust the instincts of Hopper, who ran over the scripts over and over in his head, a head which otherwise was usually tossed around inside by various substances. It was no secret that every drug that appears in the film was real; for example, the scene in which the two lead stars walk through New Orleans and finish up in a cemetery was entirely sincere, because the actors were actually on acid. Everything was improvised and recorded with the guide of LSD.

Nobody knew what Hopper was doing and he got carried away by the film, by the road, the motorcycles, by the drugs and the sense of freedom which was being transmitted at that unique time. Through the addiction and chaos Hopper produced a rare gem, a rarity that shone through with its freshness and simplicity. However the hallucinogenic delirium reached its zenith with his next project, The Last Movie, the biggest failure and catastrophe in the history of cinema.

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hts of Easy Rider is its soundtrack, which has now become a cult album. The soundtrack was selected from a number of channels that Dennis Hopper listened to on the radio at the time of film editing. There were no songs recorded specifically for the film, which gave the film a varied musical repertoire, led of course by the flagship track and generational anthem- Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf of Canadians, along with the wonderful Was not Born to Follow from The Byrds, and If Six Was Nine, taken from legendary album The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Easy Rider became the role model for road movies thereafter, an extravagant version of Don Quixote on a motorcycle, however Easy Rider is much more than just a road movie, its impact and repercussions pushed it to become an aesthetic reference for a society of the young and revolutionary. A fast-paced version of the essence which was felt amongst society at the time, which reinterpreted the spiritual journey in search of freedom and meaning of life, leading to thousands of young people to hit the road and travel the world on two wheels.

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