Easy Rider, Blu-ray (1969/2016)

The road movie to own if you don’t own any others at all.

Easy Rider, Blu-ray (1969/2016)

Cast: Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Karen Black, Jack Nicholson
Director: Dennis Hopper
Director of Cinemaphotography: Laszlo Kovacs
Studio: Columbia/ The Criterion Collection 545 (5/3/16)
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 full screen color 1080p color & 16 mm color
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0 & original mono
Music by Roger McGuinn, Bob Dylan, Steppenwolf, The Byrds, The Moody Blues, The Youngbloods, The Band, Jimi Hendrix & others
Extras: Two commentary tracks – one by Hopper and one by Hopper & Peter Fonda and prod. manager Paul Lewis, “Born To Be Wild,” “Shaking the Cage (1999) – two documentaries on the making of the film, Excerpts of Hopper & Fonda at Cannes Film Festival, New interview with BBD cofounder Steve Blauner, Theatrical trailers, Printed booklet with essay by Matt Zuller Seitz
Length: 95 min.
Rating: *****

Difficult-to-handle Dennis Hopper was right in having much of the film’s dialogue being improvised off the cuff. The young Jack Nicholson is absolutely hilarious as the ACLU attorney thrown in the clink with the two drug-dealing hippies. You’ll never experience “in all walks of life” the same way again. Although Hopper claims he wrote every word, writer Terry Southern was a major influence from the beginning. The low budget Roger Corman film ($360,000) was a huge success from the start and though somewhat dated now is still at the forefront of feature filmmaking. The drugs and liquor in those scenes are the real thing – not Hollywood imitations.

The New Wave-style editing, rollicking alternative rock soundtrack and the against-the-grain presentation make this an entirely new voice in the road movie genre. Some audiences in Arizona and New Mexico still cheer when the two hippies are shot by the rednecks on their trip from LA to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

—John Sunier

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