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Easy Rider (1969), one of the great American road movies, portrays the lives of two bike riders who experience the land and the people of the American Southwest and South. The main theme of the movie as told by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern is the illustration of a search for freedom by the two heroes in the conventional and fraudulent land of America in the 1960s, marked by suspicion, narrow-mindedness, and hostility.
The movie had a significant impact on me as it helped me identify the essential issues faced by the young generation of the period. The desolate and subdued tone of the movie, significantly, reflects the mood of the period which witnessed several disastrous events. Therefore, Easy Rider, one of the first films of its kind, reflects the collapse of the idealistic 60s and depicts various distressing situations of American youth.
As commented by Tim Dirks, the movie “was a ritualistic experience and viewed (often repeatedly) by youthful audiences in the late 1960s as a reflection of their realistic hopes of liberation and fears of the Establishment.” (Dirks 2008). Therefore, the impact of Easy Rider on the American youth is undeniable and I was able to reflect on the major issues, societal landscapes, and tensions including the communal lifestyle, drug addiction, hippie movement in America in the period.
The movie Easy Rider cannot essentially claim the illustration of a great plot and it lacks artistic merit. However, the movie is invaluable as it represents the popular and historical culture of the period in a realistic manner. The flow of the story through divergent themes such as the desire for money, freedom, use of the drug, and the identification of the various cultural aspects, etc, has significant utility in a realization of the cultural existence of youngsters through the years. As the promotional posters of Easy Rider suggest, the characters in the movie were in search of America and they failed to find it anywhere.
Thus, the search for the heroes in the movie has a great implication to every American who is in search of the real culture and tradition of the land. Presented from the point of view of the young Americans, who go through different kinds of experiences relating to the culture and background of the time, the movie has valuable meaning to the young generations. The heroes of the movie are always in costumes that relate traditional patriotic symbols with motifs of isolation, criminality, and hostility such as “the American flag, cowboy decorations, long-hair, and drugs.” (Dirks 2008). The presentation of the characters in these varied backgrounds also suggests the importance of the American culture and tradition in the lives of young generations.
To conclude, the movie Easy Rider has played a crucial role in the depiction of the socio-cultural background of the 1960s and has influenced several young viewers who are in search of American freedom and culture through the years. The movie had a major impact on my understanding of the cultural background as well as social issues of the time including the quest for freedom and money, tensions of the period such as the communal lifestyle, drug addiction, hippie movement, and other societal landscapes.
Dirks, Tim. Easy Rider (1969). Filmsite. Web.