For this year’s A-To-Z Challenge, my theme is MOVIES. I will be working my way through the alphabet during the month of April with movie titles and short blurbs about each movie. Today’s movie is “Easy Rider.”
“Easy Rider” was a 1969 American independent road drama written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda, and directed by Hopper. Fonda and Hopper play two Harley-riding, hippie bikers who travel through the American Southwest and South, carrying the proceeds from a cocaine deal.
Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper) are ostensibly en route to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but in reality they are on an odyssey in search of freedom and some meaning in life. Along the way they encounter an eclectic array of individuals, including George Hanson (played by a young Jack Nicholson), an establishment lawyer with a penchant for alcohol. The people they meet and the situations that follow represent the best and worst aspects of modern American life, the worst including bigotry and hatred from the inhabitants of small-town America.
The movie was a groundbreaking American countercultural film that was hailed as a youth anthem for its message of nonconformism and its reflection of social tensions in the U.S. in the late 1960s. It helped spark the “New Hollywood” of the late ’60s and early ’70s, in which a style of filmmaking based on low budgets and avant-garde directors came to the forefront. The film’s use of popular rock songs in place of original music was a concept later adopted by other filmmakers.
The movie’s bleak conclusion, in which Wyatt and Billy have a violent encounter with men in a pickup truck, is still jarring for audiences. “Easy Rider” proved a breakthrough role for Nicholson, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.