It might be raining on the Cannes parade, and security out of hand, some of the films, well…
…but there’s still one bright note on a gray, spitting Riviera first festival Friday. The bike of the film, Easy Rider, forty one years old this week, is back at the place that gave it life, once more returning to the festival where the film and cast – Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and Karen Black earned a vital critical reprieve from the Cannes film festival.
The master builder of the easy rider Captain America replica, Jack Lepler, is here too. The secrets behind the film, the legend behind the story (what Jack doesn’t know he isn’t telling, not about the bike nor the original film no how – it aint worth saying nor knowing, he says with a wink).
So the sequel, Easy Rider II, is on the Cote D’Azur, back at Cannes. If it weren’t for the 22nd Cannes Film festival of 1969 – the festival after 1968, the year student and filmmakers with Godard and Truffaut stopped Cannes and France in its tracks – the original Easy Rider might not have seen the light of day. American distributors would not touch the film, said they were embarrassed by it. More fool them, because this game-changing-film budgeted at $400,000, took $60 million at the box office.
Easy Rider is a large part of the reason behind independent American cinema’s power in the late 1960s, which regenerated a tired old Hollywood studio-system filled with failure and excess.
It was Cannes that gave the story of the bike its traction, gave this new influence and style its market tread. Easy Rider is a key independent production – independent cinema which the savvy know created the trend that saved Hollywood from its crippling decline. More power to Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Here’s to more Easy Rider sequels.