Easy Rider

Year: 1969

Synopsis: Counterculture bikers Wyatt and Billy go on a road trip to Mardi Gras, and meet colorful characters, including the alcoholic George Hanson

Pros:
• Well beyond the sum of its parts in its chronicling of the failing counterculture movement, as well as the movement’s sometimes irrational reaction to it.
• Strongly showed how the movement either had near impossible goals, as it sometimes seemed to lack them. At the same time showed the fallacies of mainstream’s culture.
• Fonda and Hopper highlighted the extremes of the movement — ponderous and freewheeling, and how both sides generally functioned together to create a sense of achieving something different and positive.
• Jack Nicholson’s George, the counterculture convert, perfectly translated both worldviews of mainstream culture and counterculture, and the general incompatibility of both. In some ways, he was the wisest character of the film.

Cons:
• Some of the soundtrack might be a bit dated for today’s audience.
• As the film itself directly stated, the counterculture theme was not for everyone.

Discussion:
“You know, Billy, we blew it.”

The counterculture movement was not necessarily about goals. It was a movement about a kind of freedom that no longer seemed allowed. Yet, those “hippies,” at least for a time, suggested that it was possible to create that seemingly impossible freedom. As such, the reaction to it was certainly irrational, because many in the mainstream might have willfully chained themselves to overly familiar ideals. The counterculture peoples merely failed because they could reconcile freedom with the lack of attainable goals. George Hanson might just have been an impossible being, as a result. He embraced the counterculture freedom, but also understood the reality of the mainstream goal. He could still see the danger of rejection, when the rest tried to filter it out. Without the reconciliation George suggested, both sides of the argument were wrong in their own ways. In the end, perhaps the only ones that had it even close to right was the family at the farmstead in Arizona.


Rotten Tomatoes — 88%

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