Flicks: Easy Rider

March 25th, 2007

I don’t do drugs.
Consequently a major dimension of Easy Rider is lost on me.
It’s a little disheartening to see that Dennis Hopper’s been doing the same damn routine for thirty odd years.
It all descends into madness in the New Orleans LSD scene. I’m sure there are layers of complexity to be found here, but all I see is a cautionary tale as to why one shouldn’t play with film equipment while high.
Ok, so there’s more to it than that. Jack Nicholson’s role was minor, but the only one that was worthwhile. He was the only sensible voice in the movie and he was raving drunk. His monologue on freedom is the only redeeming feature and unfortunately all the freedom they want is the right to be dirty hippies. For all the harassment they suffer in the movie, the only freedom they are looking for amounts to doing lots of drugs and not shaving. Given the context of the time, it all just seems like adolescent persecution fantasy. They aren’t rebelling against an unjust war, they aren’t fighting for equality or a proper education, they are just riding around stoned and dirty.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Be a stoner, be a dirty hippie, make a movie that’s an end-to-end trip. But don’t act like it’s any more than that. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas did a great job of this. And it did it without the self-righteous claptrap.

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