Thursday, 21 October 2010

Easy Rider

‘It’s real hard to be free when you’re bought and sold in the market place’ George Hanson’s immortal line in Easy Rider (1969) sums up my attitude to the sixties hippie movement. It was ok to swan about in your robes and beads if you were middle class kids and had access to money or perhaps a student with time on your hands and political rhetoric rolling off your tongue, but the bulk of the so called youth movement had to work for a living and the nearest we got to being a student was day-release.

Even Wyatt and Billy had to carry out a drug deal to allow them to realize a long-standing ambition to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras. With the proceeds they bought a couple of motor bikes and set of across country. Their journey takes them through some of the most beautiful and iconic parts of America including Monument Valley. During their trip they drop in on a commune, go skinny dipping with two hippie chicks and meet George Hanson who helps them get out of jail. George is a small town lawyer and a rich mans son who rejects what he see’s as ‘straight society’ and joins them on the trip, in more ways than one. Eventually, connecting up with a couple of hookers, our iconic bikers go on an acid trip in a New Orleans graveyard before continuing their journey to its inevitable end.

Regarded as one of the most influential movies of all time it stars Peter Fonda as Wyatt and Dennis Hopper, who also directed the film, as the long haired Billy. Easy Rider was also the first big acting break for Jack Nicholson, Oscar nominated for the part of George Hanson, a role originally written for the actor Rip Thorn who fell out with Hopper and withdrew from the film. Hopper’s portrayal of the American dream through the alternative society, one that rejects conformity, proves only one thing that bigotry and ignorance generally win in the end!

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