Easy Rider

Easy Rider

Easy Rider at Houston Worldfest Film Festival’s Tribute to Dennis Hopper: Dennis Hopper’s “Billy” and Peter Fonda’s “Captain America” make enough profit from a one-time cocaine deal that they are finally able to set out riding their custom motorcycles across America in search of Freedom. In the film, much is made of Freedom as a dream, a mindset, a lifestyle, and a conceptual goal. Lessons are learned from a hitchhiker in his communal desert town. In a film full of philosophical dialogue, Jack Nicholson, as a loquacious, hard-drinking Arizona lawyer, says the most with his words — “This used to be a really great country…” — as he does with actions when he dies, stabbed in his sleeping bag.

Though the film is graphic in so many ways, the secret to its meaning is in its restraint. The main characters came of age in the era of Vietnam. Millions were fighting bloody battles meant to ensure freedom. And for all its sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, Easy Rider is a film about Freedom. Captain America learns this, as he tells Billy the night before the film’s fateful final scene, “We blew it.” There wasn’t enough freedom in America for those two. They died for freedom.

When Houston Worldfest Film Festival director Hunter Todd introduced the film and took questions, I asked about the “new” print. He explained that Columbia had struck a new 35mm master print, and that this one was borne of it. Tonight would be the third time it had ever been screened, he said. He acknowledged local filmmakers and former Worldfest winners The Palomino Sisters in attendance. And a little black girl, unaccompanied although she couldn’t have been over 10 or 11 years old, raised her hand and asked, “What is this movie about?”

Jokes were mumbled. Someone said, “This movie is probably older than your parents.” Todd merely responded, “This is one of the classic films of the 20th century!” But nobody answered her. The theater manager who led her out merely said, “This movie is rated ‘R’.” No use telling her about this sad life lesson. She’ll find out soon enough, and if she needs any help sorting it all out, Easy Rider will still be here.

Easy Rider (1969), 95 minutes, Rated R. Directed by Dennis Hopper. Written by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. Starring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Phil Spector.

(Sony Pictures -- http://www.sonypictures.com/; Dennis Hopper -- http://www.dennis-hopper.com/; )
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Review by . Review posted Tuesday, May 25th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Easy Rider

  1. Creg Lovett on May 29th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

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