Rider" on DVD
Born to be Wild
Looking back on Columbia's
"Easy Rider" through the lens of history, one can hardly argue
that it isn't the quintessential 1960's hippie biker flick. It's more
than that, however, it's a time capsule and a glorious travelog for America's
highways and byways.
Dennis Hopper directed
the screenplay he wrote with co-star Peter Fonda (who also produced) and
Terry Southern. He plays the angry young man - long haired and rebellious
- to Fonda's easy going free spirit.
They begin the film
with a cocaine deal that makes them comfortably well off and propels them
on their cross country odyssey to sample the fleshpots of New Orleans
at Mardi Gras. Along the way they pick up a hippie hitchhiker who takes
them to his commune - and later when they're thrown in jail they meet
up with George Hanson (Jack Nicholson), a lawyer who decides to make the
rest of the trek with them.
Naturally, these anti
establishment rebels run afoul of the establishment and it ends up costing
all three of them dearly.
The movie is really
about Hopper and Fonda's pursuit of the American dream, and a tribute
to the freedom of the open road, and as such it's quite enjoyable.
Columbia Tristar has
done a terrific job with the DVD of Easy Rider. The audio has been remixed
into Dolby Digital 5.1, and it really shows. Early scenes at the end of
an airport runway have jets flying overhead - with their noise filling
the room most delightfully.
The famous rock music
score has also been given a loving treatment. I don't know whether or
not they went to the audio CD's and used them for the new soundtrack,
but the songs sound as if they were recorded yesterday and the stereo
audio is nothing less than first rate.
The movie is presented
only in widescreen, and it looks wonderful. The locations chosen are a
mixture of the lush, the mountainous, the arid, and the spectacular, and
it's almost enough to make you want to retrace the boys' route across
the US just so you can see those glorious locations.
Extras include a full
length documentary courtesy of director Hopper, and an hour long documentary
"Easy Rider: Shaking The Cage," which features new interviews
with the cage shakers and movers. There's also a selection of talent files
on the disc and a decent liner essay in the package.
Oh, you may want to
have the audio system turned down when you access the main menu - unless
you really, really love the throaty growl of a Harley...
I don't know if I'd
agree that "Easy Rider" is "One of the ten most important
pictures of the (1960's) decade," as Time Magazine called it - but
despite its downbeat ending it's an entertaining film that beautifully
captures the mood of its time.
Easy Rider, from Columbia
Tristar Home Video
95 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson
Produced by Peter Fonda, Screenplay by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and
Directed by Dennis Hopper
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