Plot: What’s it about?
There’s something about the great outdoors that makes a movie seem…right. Sounds weird, right? That’s what Easy Rider is, a movie about being there, sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time. Peter Fonda (Captain America/Wyatt) and Dennis Hopper (Billy) are two bikers on their way to New Orleans to “get down” at Mardi Gras. They have just “hit the big one” by scoring some cocaine and sold it to a wealthy man in Los Angeles. Knowing that they are financiall set for quite a while, they decide to head on to the great outdoors. Now, in a nutshell, that’s it. Two guys ride cool bikes and come across some unfortunate things, movie ends.
But it ain’t like that. This was released at the tail end of the 60’s, a decade that changed the way we are…forever. As Dennis Hopper says in the documentary, the Summer of Love was over and so were the 60’s. On their way to Mardi Gras, they come across Jack Nicholson’s character, who they meet in jail. They were arrested for “parading without a permit”, typical…Oddly enough, George (Nicholson) is an ACLU lawyer, but also an alcoholic. Things happen and he heads off with them, only to be the brunt of some local hicks violence.
That’s what this movie is about, how people are viewed. It showed that even after all the Civil Rights marches and “Peace”, that people were still judged by their looks, color of skin, length of their hair…What they learn from George is that people in general are afraid of them (Wyatt and Billy) not because of what they look like, but what they represent—Freedom. People are so set in their ways that they’ll resort to violence (and do) to keep things in a status quo.
Now don’t get me wrong, Easy Rider is a movie that I haven’t seen until now, but I loved it instantly. I had always thought of it as “that motorcycle movie”, but now I realize that it’s something much, much more. It’s a journey, not only across America, but perhaps a bridge from the 60’s to the 70’s and beyond…Not to be missed!
Video: How does it look?
Columbia Tristar does not disappoint again. The 1.85:1 image is 16:9 enhanced and looks great. A majority of the scenes are shot out on the desert highways, and it looks crystal clear. I noticed a few scenes that had some artifacting, but hey…this film is 30 years old! Still, colors looked right on. They were bright and sharp and the edges were not “soft” as some titles are. A very nice, clean transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
Re-mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, the sound is as good as can be expected for a film shot on a low budget, 30 years ago. There are some surround effects, and the motorcycles make the sub kick in a few times, but nothing else really stood out. Still, the dialogue is clean and you can make out all of Dennis Hopper’s “Man’s” very easily.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Ok (deep breath)…There is a feature-length commentary with director, Dennis Hopper and a 75 minute documentary that is even more informative that the commentary. So I’ll concentrate on that. There are new interviews with Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and other cast members, in which they tell about all the times they had making the movie. One thing that was confirmed (that I suspected) was that all the drugs used in the movie were real! They were very frank with it. Also, an isolated score and a theatrical trailer. Not as much as “Heavy Metal”, but if you like this movie, this will give you five or six good hours of material to soak up. All in all…not to be missed. A great disc!