Symbolism in Easy Rider
The sixties are best characterized as a time of rebellion and resistance to traditional values. This movement was visible everywhere that one could look. From political rallies at colleges to major literature works, people were starting to question everything that had, for so long, been accepted as the norm. The ideas of those involved were also quite apparent in the films that were produced in that decade. Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider was quite possibly one of the most pronounced and symbolic movies of the sixties in its efforts to convey the way the "youth" of that time period felt, and how they perceived the world they were living in.
Hopper's movie, a hit from the start, is basically about two men cruising cross-country by motorcycle to Mardis Gras. These men, by today's standards, would be considered hippies. They enjoyed partaking in drugs, alcohol, and had a preoccupation with sexual relations. Over the course of their journey, they run into many people, most of whom look down upon them, but occasionally find the cliques where they are welcome. Hopper uses a great deal of symbolism to convey his, as well as his characters', feelings on the meaning of what is taking place in the United States, as well as larger truths, such as accomodating those who are different, that, at that time, were not being as universally accepted as Hopper, and others like him, felt they should be.
One of the first main symbols that I noticed in the movie is probably one that many people would overlook. It is not so much a huge thematic statement as it is a subtle, intuitive gesture of how things were inevitably changing. Hopper, also one of the characters, and Peter Fonda have recently began their trek across the country from L.A. to New Orleans, when Fonda gets a flat on his motorcycle. They happen to be near a ranch, and so they kindly ask the owner if they may use some of his tools to fix Fonda's bike. The rancher, in a gesture of hospitality,...
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