Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda on motorcycles in Easy Rider movie

Film Fix: Easy Rider

Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Jack Nicholson on motorcycles
photo courtesy:

Writer and Producer – Daniel Fickman

Other Side Drive Producer – Shannon Williams
Editor – Adam M. Cook

Movies! I love movies. Who doesn’t love movies? Nobody. Everyone loves movies, or is at least fascinated by them to some extent. Movies have been captivating our imaginations for over a hundred years. Each week on Film Time With Fickman we’ll take a look at different films and eras of film that have been extremely influential to me — important movies that I believe should be shared with the world. On this first episode I want to talk about the groundbreaking 1969 film Easy Rider.

A landmark counterculture film, and a touchstone for a generation that captured the national imagination, Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, like the rise and fall of the hippie movement, drug use and communal lifestyle. The film helped launch the careers of Hollywood legends Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper. The film follows the cross-country journey of Wyatt, played by Fonda, and Billy, played by Hopper. The two motorcycle-riding hippies head eastward in an effort to make it to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras. Along the way they encounter hitchhikers, a drunken lawyer (played remarkably by Nicholson in his breakout role), intolerant, angry rednecks and the destruction of the American Dream. Made on an extremely low budget of $360,000, the film went on to gross $41,728,598.

The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood phase of filmmaking during the early 1970s. This phase, which lasted roughly from around 1969 to 1980, introduced subject matter that highly contrasted the norms of Old Hollywood, circa 1920s to 1950s. This new wave was a Hollywood renaissance. I’ve been so fascinated with this era of filmmaking because it bred some of the most creative minds to ever pick up a camera: Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman and Hal Ashby, some of whom are still working and making amazing movies today. This era briefly changed the business from the producer-driven Hollywood system of the past and injected movies with a jolt of freshness, energy, sexuality and a passion for the artistic value of film itself.

Easy Rider was one of three movies, the other two include The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde, that broke down barriers and opened doors for Hollywood to think differently. It reflected a youth at odds with its country who thought their voices were not being represented on the Silver Screen — Easy Rider gave them a voice. I first saw Easy Rider when I was in high school and it had that same impact on me. Forty years after its release it’s still captivating the minds of not just the youth but people everywhere. So check this trailblazing film out, but be warned: It’s a life changer.

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