In the beginning of the film, there is a great shot of Wyatt and Billy changing the tires on their bikes as two farmers put on a horseshoe on their horse. I liked the symbolism of that. This film also had some of the most beautiful sunsets ever seen on film, gorgeous vistas of the American Southwest – kudos to the cinematography - and some freaky new editing, montage, where we have very quick edits which are used to bring out another meaning. Like when Fonda throws his watch off in the beginning of the movie. There are a handful of these kinds of shots in the movie, and you’ll notice them. Let’s not forget to give praise to Fonda’s biker jacket and leather pants, and both Billy’s and his California Choppers, some great bikes that are a sight for sore eyes, as is Peter Fonda, gorgeous man.
Many say this role made Jack Nicholson famous and he is good. But there is more than that, I mean the role is somewhat small after all. As lawyer George Hanson, a non-hippie one might call him, he meets these two dealers in jail and befriends them in such a way that is touching to see. But he is only one of the oddballs they meet along their bike trip. Most everywhere they go, the two protagonists are shunned by the world but not by George. They have late night campfire discussions, and I had heard about those filming scenes, and yes, you could tell they were stoned, in real life. But they could still act...well. And they have fascinating conversations about everything from aliens to drugs and much more. Karen Black and Toni Basil are also featured as the lovers/hookers, but their roles are minor and they only appear at the Mardi Gras trippy drug scenes in New Orleans. Which brings me to the beautiful cemetery shots of New Orleans which I also shot (with a photo camera) when I was there years ago. No wonder they also saw the raw beauty of those cemeteries as a very cool place to shoot a drug trip.
Making-Of Documentary “Easy Rider: Shaking the Cage”: Naturally, some of the same stuff is repeated in the audio commentary and this one hour long documentary, but that is to be expected. This was another exciting feature that explored many aspects involved in the making of this American classic. And yes, thanks to this feature, I realized I was right, that was Phil Spector as the big drug connection in the film. He sure looks funny though. I liked finding out about Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid and the whole western thing, as it is explained. I did feel that too, watching the film. The majestic Southern views sure helped the western feel though. A good documentary is one where lots of fun, interesting stuff is uncovered and this one does not disappoint.
Exclusive 8 song songtrack CD: You can put this CD in an empty CD case, cut out the listing of the songs from the DVD insert and make a new CD for yourself from the film. I did because the songs rock and include my favorite tune, “I Wasn’t Born to Follow” by the Byrds as well as the amazing “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues.
British Film Institute 80-page booklet “Easy Rider” by Lee Hill: Everything and anything you ever wanted to know about this film, in detail, is to be found in this amazingly concise booklet which includes many black and white photos as well. A welcome and complimentary addition to the set. There is just so much to say that this booklet is well deserved.
Talent Files on actors Karen Black, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda & Jack Nicholson.