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Monday Movie Meme: Trauma In Your Drama?

By , 15 June, 2009, 3 Comments

This week’s Monday Movie Meme is all about trauma — and the minute I read it I knew just what I was going to say!

Just this past weekend, the girls & I in film club watched Easy Rider (1969) for our latest Classic Schmassic screening and, because there’s very little glamour and fashion to discuss, I wasn’t sure I’d mention it here… But now I have an excuse *wink*

Easy Rider was an easy choice for our Classic Schmassic viewing because it’s not only a film we’ve all heard glorified so much (it’s a “touchstone for a generation,” the start of “mockumentaries,” etc.) but it’s such a “male film” (motorcycles, traveling by two cross country — something even today that two women would be too vulnerable to do, and more motorcycles) that we all wrinkled our noses when the title was suggested; the collective nose wrinkling made it mandatory viewing.

For the first, what, quarter? half? of the movie, I (and the rest of the film club) were bored out of our minds. The two main leads, Peter Fonda as Wyatt & Dennis Hopper as Billy, were not particularly likable to us; selling drugs is not as glamorous to women who have children, and then there’s the rather sexist regard of women (no matter how accurate, it’s not likable). The trip itself makes some commentary on “others in our society,” both conservative powers that be (“The Man”) and those living on the fringe (sometimes supposedly “Utopian”); but we just found ourselves faced with further dislike of the characters (who really didn’t know how good they had it). It was becoming intolerable to watch (exhibited by our increasing talk) — and then Jack Nicholson appeared on screen (as George Hanson).

The Boys On Bikes In Easy Rider

The Boys On Bikes In Easy Rider

Easy Rider is supposed to be the movie that made Nicholson a star, so matter what your thoughts on him (and in my film club, they vary to the least flattering thoughts you can imagine!), you are sort of compelled to see what the fuss was about. As good as Nicholson is (and we all agreed that he was good here), even his charming performance wasn’t quite turning this movie into something we were all glued to.

We were anxious, shifting in our seats, trying not to talk when we desperately wanted to entertain ourselves somehow, when finally one scene pulled us all in.

It’s the scene were the three guys stop to eat in a Louisiana restaurant. Here we actually found a level of unpleasant realism which made us shift in our seats for completely different reasons; it was the sort of extreme vulnerability that we’d each felt at one time or another — the sort of fear which keeps us from trying to travel cross country in such small numbers.

This kept us riveted to the movie from then on.

And once engaged, we were shocked with what happened next.

I won’t tell you what it was. Doing so would be more than a spoiler; it would completely destroy your viewing of the film.

Part of our shock was wondering how we’d each managed not to know this about the film… Had everyone who talked about the film provided the same “non spoiler” respect? Was most of the chatter about this film perpetuated by those who had never even seen it? Or had each of us been living under rocks?

In any case, from that moment on we were in shock — the medical kind. We were cold, some of us were shaking, and we were aware that other things were happening on the screen — but we weren’t quite sure if we were seeing them or interpreting them right.

By the time we got to the doing drugs with hookers (played by Karen Black and Toni Basil) in the cemetery scene, we were already feeling disjointed and confused…

Perhaps the DVD spiked our Diet Cokes? We sure felt like we were on a trip.

But the movie doesn’t end there; and neither did our trauma. Again, I won’t go into details; if you’ve managed not to know the entire plot, I won’t be responsible for ruining it. Instead, I’d much rather be responsible for encouraging you to stop resisting this film. Easy Rider, for all it’s bluster & bluff, is legendary stuff.

Just don’t drive any deserted roads alone. Not after viewing — maybe not ever.

Easy Rider is one move that I can safely dub as Most Traumatic Film I’ve Seen.  I’ve cried more, I’ve been more depressed, I’ve been angrier; but I’ve never physically suffered from shock from a film before.

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3 Responses {+}
  • Bumbles

    Hmm. I’ll have to go back and watch it again. I know what you’re talking about but it’s been sooo long since I saw the whole movie the effect must have been dulled. I travel without fear! Camping out in the middle of nowhere – not advised.

  • Carlos

    These are the miniatures that I make in Brazil.


    Thank you!!

  • Carlos

    Sorrry, the blog is wrong.
    The correct is:

    See the mini chopper from easy Rider Film that I made.

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