Easy Rider Screen 5 articles

Easy Rider


Easy Rider Poster
  • Per Benning, one purpose [digital] serves is to literally show the earth moving around the sun, since the position of light changes. I'll admit that the not-quite-sharp-enough video made it hard for me to pick a spot or spots of interest to latch in on and observe the changes, but I cracked up at the punchline from the Easy Rider audio track ("Hey man, if we're going, we're going! Let's go!").

  • As a mood and space changer, this works, but it also comes off as canned. Much of the frustration in a feature-length Benning work comes from the tightly structured length of each delicate composition, and it can feel that there is no counterpoint within the rhythm of each shot. Change does happen, and there is a nice usage of off-screen sound to create anticipation for cars, trains, and other objects passing through our scene.

  • It’s not subtle (after Peter Fonda’s heartfelt “we blew it”, Benning cuts to a shot of a steam-belching oil refinery) but when the filmmaker throws in Space Lady Suzy Soundz’s acid reverb version of “Born to Be Wild” or uses a close-up of creepy jail house graffiti (“I Love God”) for Jack Nicholson’s first scene, his “Easy Rider” is both a weird tribute to the original’s mythic power and an evocation of an America haunted, as Lawrence imagined it, by “grinning, unappeased aboriginal demons.”

  • Both pilgrimage and desecration, Benning’s Easy Rider, in which each shot matches the length of a scene in Dennis Hopper’s 1969 film, is one of his richest (and wittiest) recent works: a road trip through the movie’s locations that questions the mythology of landscape and the meaning of counterculture.

  • Benning’s Easy Rider is a film that takes stock, measuring change over a period of more than forty years. Retracing the journey made by Wyatt and Billy in 1968, the film pays attention to the landscape in the first instance, noting the changes that have taken place, but also looking and listening in a way that Hopper’s film does not.

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