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[Official Synopsis] Experience the real '60s counterculture in this compelling mixture of drugs, sex and armchair politics. Academy Award®-winner Jack Nicholson (Best Actor, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975; Best Supporting Actor, Terms of Endearment, 1983; Best Actor, As Good As It Gets, 1997) stars with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (who also directs) in this unconventional classic which Time Magazine hails as "one of the ten most important pictures of the decade." Nominated for an Academy Award® (1969) for Best Original Screenplay (written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern), EASY RIDER continues to touch a chord with fans everywhere.

 Easy Rider
I've watched

Easy Rider

alot over the years, however despite my fondness for it, it's one of those films I desperately want to like more than I do. I like it and everytime I've revisited over the years I've found something else within it to like more but everytime I watch it I know there's something in there I'm missing, almost like I need to be the perfect age or I have to have had experienced something in life for it to fully click or the planets have to align just right. Either way, here I am again sitting down to rewatch Easy Rider.

This is my first watch of the film in HD, and I have to say that the HD presented visuals certainly made this pop more than ever before (more on that later) but once again the film itself is a joy but a joy that keeps me at arms length a bit still. The songs just get better and better but I think I struggle to warm to many of the main characters, they're a little too loose maybe or all a little similar or something, again, I like them, Fonda is cool as shit, Hopper always makes me smile and Jack, is, Jack and he's always easy to enjoy, even if he's quiet and just grinning. I just think maybe it's their journey I'm not all that invested in. From place to place I'm not really there with them as a viewer, almost thinking they'd probably be best moving that touch faster to achieve their goal or something. Yes, I know that's entirely not the point but I'm trying to cross that distance to really loving this flick, so I'm reaching.

 Easy Rider
I guess thats my problem isn't. Maybe on my next viewing and there will be one, Easy Rider always manages to sneak up on me at the right time, like this unexpected review disc arriving, I need to let go of trying to find it and let it find me, or accept the level on which I like Easy Rider is just enough and to make peace with it. Either way, this latest rewatch of the road movie with the killer soundtrack and mini adventures along the way once again feels like a beautiful anomaly to me. Whether a true reflection of the time or something commenting on it with its own spin, Easy Rider remains an effortlessly unique affair, that's full of positivity and acceptance and a sense of freedom, even with that dark undertone in its social commentary.

 Easy Rider

Video


The Easy Rider image is lusciously coloured with plenty of detail but retains its gritty good looks. This adds alot to the textures of skin and clothing and of course sideburns, where every strand of hair can be seen in tight close ups.

Wider shots can look a little grubbier, especially during the opening credits, which was expected. Most of the time the image still manages to pop, bright blue skies, dusty mountain ranges and the open road all glow wonderfully, with glints of light bouncing off of all that bike chrome like never before and really giving the image some pop.

Lighting throughout is the star here, really lifting the image off of the screen and selling the wide open spaces of the journey at every turn. It's warm and pleasant throughout, capturing a natural look that isn't about modern digital boosting but more a total celebration of what was originally shot. The film grain here makes for classic feeling image as it should and Easy Rider looks great, even in that purposely super grainy crazily experimental footage towards the end of the film where the films style changes almost entirely.

 Easy Rider

Audio


Easy Rider obviously has a killer soundtrack and this release would fail miserably if every classic track wasn't impeccably presented on the audio front. From the get go, the music here sounds absolutely blindingly good. Rich, full of weight and crystal clear, these songs have probably never ever sounded so good. They are just full of raw energy within the mix, with all the layers of each track sounding crisp and full of power. It's a thing of greatness that these songs can sound so fresh so many years later.

Anyway, songs aside, the audio here is slightly airy due to the original recording and a lot of exterior scenes capturing real world audio but it's all part of the film's charm and style and if it was crystal clear it would kill the mood. Dialogue is well layered with the chirping crickets and cracking fire or roaring engines of the bikes and the general ambience of the great outdoors dancing around the mix well, even though much of it lives primarily in the front speakers. The rears are used but it seems more to add a sense of depth rather than carrying weight, it's a subtle use but it's one that works.

 Easy Rider

Extras


The first commentary with Dennis Hooper is a good but laid back listen, the second  commentary with Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson is equally laid back and sort of quiet but both tracks still remain  interesting because of the participants.

'Born To Be Wild' (29:50 HD) is the 1992 BBC documentary and it's a great overview of the film.

'Easy Rider: Shaking The Cage' (64:50 HD) is the 1999 documentary film again covering the film's history.

'Hopper and Fonda At Cannes' (02:08 HD) is a short promo snippet from the films French premiere.

'Steve Blauner' (18:40 HD) is a conversation of with the producer, covering the road to Easy Rider through many TV projects (including The Monkees) as well as the film's impact and we wrap up with a selection of trailer.

 Easy Rider

Overall


Yes, I'm probably overthinking my level of like for Easy Rider but it's one of those films I sort of want to get lost in and not nitpick at, or question quite so much. I want to love it like so many people I know do, and when they say "Easy Rider" it sounds as if its part of their soul or something. I guess I'm just not ready for it or I already have other great films that do that for me, either way, this Criterion release is packed with great additional stuff and comes with a blinder of an audio track (mainly for that music) and a great video presentation, enhancing everything in all the right ways without losing the original look of the film.


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