Easy Rider

Easy Rider could be the definitive road movie, a whacked-out motor-psycho nightmare colliding with the breathtaking landscape of the Western. The script, written by Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Terry Southern, contained only the barest of details, allowing for enormous improvisation in both dialogue and setting. If the reckless characters of Billy (Hopper) and Wyatt (Peter Fonda) were out to discover America on their motorcycles, the freewheeling production style was part of the discovery. Easy Rider replaces the Wild One and the Rebel Without a Cause with a couple of dope-addled freaks heading for New Orleans after their big coke score with the Connection (Phil Spector). Barren communes, an LSD episode in a graveyard, run-ins with hostile rednecks, Jack Nicholson's riotous pot-smoking monologue, and enough rock'n'roll to bloat the Big Bopper: the result is a countercultural odyssey through the arid desert of American values. Easy Rider roars eastward in stoned anticipation of some Edenic past. But in this apocalyptic youth film, it is nowhere to be found.

Easy Rider is repeated on Sunday, July 18.

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