Wednesday, November 18, 2009

EASY RIDER (Dennis Hopper, 1969, USA) Creators Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda capture the tumultuous zeitgeist of the late sixties landscape as sea change drowns the status quo, seeking independence from political tyranny and fascist morality. Their goal is freedom but the Wardens of the Old World Order do not take kindly to those who rattle the cages and shake the foundations of their archaic beliefs. The film begins with a rustic vignette of static junk, a drug deal in a timeless sweaty and grimy Mexican villa that match cuts to twentieth century technocracy, as sleek jets airliners dominate the sky above while the same drugs change hands: this time to a wealthy American businessman. Hopper films an interesting visual dichotomy between the poor farmer who is selling drugs to probably feed his family and the wealthy American whose aim is pure profit, the disease of rogue Capitalism. But the protagonists become a willing cog of the machine they despise, a vehicle that transports profit without remorse or morality, and Wyatt eventually realizes this conundrum. The systemic change cannot begin outside; it must begin in the mind and spirit of the individual but they hide their troubles and sorrows in the fog of opaque opiates and fractured lucidity. They are typecast and victimized by narrow-minded yokels but they play the part of the stereotype, and are unable to understand that the more they attempt individuality the more conformist they become. This is evident in the “Maggie’s Farm” sequence where they discover superficial brotherhood but sense Desolation Row. Wyatt is most at home on a simple homestead with an honest farmer and his large family, people living off the land with hard work. Again, Hoppe utilizes a great match cut between shoeing a horse and changing the rear tire on the patriotic Harley. The stunning cinematography by Lazlo Kovacs reveals bleeding sunsets and the jagged bones of unknown spaces, a seemingly alien landscape that shares an oblique existence with splintered ideologies. The superheroes partake in the runaway American Dream and their epitaph is a lonely chorus of the Star Spangled Bummer. Wyatt and Billy brutally learn that he not busy being born is busy dying…but it’s alright, Ma it’s life, and life only. (A)

1 comment:

Shubhajit said...

That's an absolutely brilliant analysis, dissection & appraisal of Easy Rider - not just one of my favourite movies, but also one of those rare movies that defined the 60's "counter-culture", anti-establishmentarian movements that have become a part of popular conscience of the US.

"...the tumultuous zeitgeist of the late sixties landscape as sea change drowns the status quo, seeking independence from political tyranny and fascist morality". Touche.