I was (and am) very pleased with the Easy Rider Bluray that I bought a few months ago. It looks rich and alive and intensely celluloid-y (which is starting to become a welcome distinction). Under-30s who haven’t had the pleasure need to see it this way. The Bluray reminds (or instructs) that this 1969 film is not a dimissable (as David Thomson recently implied) but something that knows itself and the culture from whence it sprung, and which works according to its own mantra and ticker.
Last night EW’s Owen Gleiberman wrote arrestingly about Easy Rider’s director, Dennis Hopper, who died yesterday morning.
“Watch Easy Rider today, and you’ll see that every glinting panoramic shot, every toked-up dialogue rhythm, every situation and jagged dramatic back-alley dovetails as only the work of a born filmmaker can. Hopper, who was in his late teens when he made his screen debut in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), came of age in the outwardly strait-laced, buttoned-down Hollywood of the 1950s, but as a compatriot of the moody, emotionally voluptuous (and bisexual) James Dean , he was already writing the first chapter of the revolution that was to come.
“When he got the chance to make Easy Rider, he poured a decade’s worth of desire, liberation, nihilism, despair and hunger into it, and the freedom of the movie is there in every image. It’s there in the air of discovery that the characters breathe. As an artist, Hopper showed the instinctive sophistication to portray himself and Peter Fonda, the two scruffed-out hippie-biker antiheroes, not just as crusaders but as tragicomic fools.
“I first saw Easy Rider when I was 11 (it was the first adult movie I ever snuck into), and the end of the movie — that falling-away roadside-crash helicopter’s-eye death shot that you realize has already been glimpsed in an acid hallucination — spooked and possessed me like nothing I had ever seen. This wasn’t just a trendy youth-drug-culture movie. It was filmmaking on drugs.”