Easy Rider and Vertigo: Analysis and Comparison

1662 words (7 pages) Essay in Film Studies

18/05/20 Film Studies Reference this

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 Easy Rider and Vertigo are two very iconic films. Easy Rider was directed by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in the 1960s and was a huge hit. Peter Fonda wrote, directed, produced and starred in Easy Rider. Fonda comes from a family of film, his father being named the sixth Greatest Male Star of All Time. Although most people did not hesitate to compare Peter Fonda to his father, Henry Fonda; Peter still made a name for himself. It wasn’t just that he made a name for himself, but did it very humbly. Peter Fonda claims that he made a movie for his times and that’s what made Easy Rider such a big film. He was 27 and their needed to be a film for his generation, Easy Rider was that film.

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In the 1960s cocaine and marijuana were used for many purposes, some including mystical, religious and social. Easy Rider was only a confirmation that drug use wasn’t so bad after all. It was the pairing of freedom that really was the cherry on top. It’s the fact that the film spares no time introducing the viewers to the wonders of drug use. From the beginning you cut to a scene that features planes, nice cars and clean cut men and Peter Fonda clearly associates all of this with cocaine and more importantly, freedom.

Dennis Hopper was the co-director, producer and co-star in Easy Rider. The thing I really love about Dennis Hopper is his ability to embody his own character. It seems the person in the films is also the person outside of the films and that’s what makes the role of Billy. Whether it’s the stubbornness he conveys throughout film, questioning most people and most things. Or the ability to incorporate his love for drugs. Dennis wasn’t just a drug lover, but had a true talent for directing and we as viewers get to experience this through Dennis’s “cutting with flash cuts”, which takes place several times throughout the film.

Easy Rider was directed and produced in the 1960s when drugs were being cultivated all over, from churches to backyards and the style choices for the film were only a compliment. In the scene where Wyatt and Billy stop in the village for food we get to see that great 60s hippy attire. Even the slang is something that ties in, terms like “far out” and “groovy”. Easy Rider was released a month before Woodstock and in many ways inspired people to pursue this lifestyle. In fact the month that Easy Rider was released my grandfather hitchhiked his way to Woodstock and my grandmother claims that Easy Rider inspired him.

The film made a name for itself by earning many awards but it’s important to know that it was known as one of the first independent films. The film was not only low budget but one of the first to feature its own directors as leads. Although the film was an idea thought out by Fonda while high on marijuana, you’d never really think so. It’s so well-orchestrated and directed. The scene where Billy throws his watch on the floor illustrates that time really isn’t a factor and this isn’t only channeled throughout the film, Easy Rider took over a year to edit.

The important part is not only that the film was iconic, but that it showed what it was like to chase after the American Dream. My opinion is that freedom isn’t something you search for but something that you embody and many people long for that. This is where the discrimination comes into play. Americans longed for freedom and envied the Riders that had left everything behind in search for happiness through adventure. Many would say that the film is a really bad ending but for me the ending related to that point in time. A time when Black Panther’s fought for freedom and a time of The Civil Rights movement. Every one was in search of peace and it seemed as if opinions were being shot down left and right. Every one has his or her own way of critiquing a film, mine is to go beyond the obvious. Easy Rider was iconic in my opinion and one of the best films created in the 60’s

 Almost 10 years before Easy Rider was released, Vertigo was released. A movie that would shape the way viewers seen film. Vertigo was Directed by Alfred Hitchcock with cinematography by Robert Burks and was released in 1958. We really get to see how much film has grown since then. I love watching films from early on. The creativity coming from film makers at a time when we had less to work with, but what’s beautiful to me is that in the 50s “less” meant “more.”

 Alfred Hitchcock made a name for himself in the 50s and his name was uttered in many households around America from having premiered Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  Hitchcock was so careful with his creations and just by viewing many of his films you really get to see how much he pay’s attention to detail by tying one scene into another scene. At the time that Hitchcock became popular, as did TV. The quality of Television meant that we saw cinematography from a whole different perspective. I mention this because the cinematography in the film is tremendous.

 Indigo was filmed mostly in San Francisco and is this is one of my favorite things about the film. You see many historical buildings, some of which have been torn down. This really lets you in on the perspective of San Francisco in the 50s. It was groundbreaking for many people living in America with access to television. San Francisco was a preselected location for psycho and according to an article written by Pete Collard of Wallpaper he was “emphasizing the importance of the vertiginous city to his narrative.”

 Although I have viewed many Hitchcock films, this was the first time I’ve viewed Vertigo. The grueling symphonies that complimented each scene and movement had me eager to discover what would happen next and I felt this scene by scene. It isn’t just the scenes in each Hitchcock film that complement each other, it is the films themselves. Each film has a way of tying to another film and we see this with Psycho and Vertigo. The styles of Hitchcock are important to recognize because he incorporates symbolism. Vertigo has a way of symbolizing falling throughout the film. We see this when John falls for Judy and almost falls to his death and many more times throughout the film we’ll see symbolism. This is how Vertigo relates to other Hitchcock films like Psycho(1960) and Birds(1963).

 Vertigo, released at a time when America was still recovering from World War 2 and was iconic for both it’s ability to connect with the viewer. It was a time of love after war. Hitchcock had a way of changing sexual revolution in film. We see the intimate lip lock between Scottie and Judy and we also see Scottie’s obsession for Judy. Hitchcock was a real pioneer for introducing new cinematic techniques.

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 The cinematography throughout the film was created by both Robert Burks and Hitchcock himself. We really do get to see the storyboards come to life in this film and we also get to be in the role of Scottie himself. We experience Scottie’s acrophobia feeling through cinematic moments like the “dolly zoom effect” and the illustrations in Scottie’s nightmare. We also see amazing cinematography in the introduction of the film with the use of vibrant hues and amazing transitioning. 

In some ways Vertigo relates to Easy Rider. Both films seem to symbolize the American Dream. We see The iconic duo pursuing the American dream described as freedom in Easy Rider and we see Scottie attempting to pursue the American Dream described as Judy in Vertigo.

Hitchcock incorporated his personality into Vertigo, his personality was a mystery and that is what really makes the film. I was nearly convinced that the film was headed toward more of a horror film and I am not easily convinced. Suddenly the film became a thriller/mystery and that to me was moving, it really made me admire Hitchcock and his many abilities. It was baffling and unpredictable and each and every minute of the movie had me interested and thinking, “what is going to happen next?”

  1. Dennis Hopper: Peter Fonda on his ‘Easy Rider’ co-star by Kaleem Aftab – July 15 2014

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/dennis-hopper-peter-fonda-on-his-easy-rider-co-star-9605915.html

  1. Drug that spans the ages: The History of cocaine – The Independent, March 2, 2006

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/drug-that-spans-the-ages-the-history-of-cocaine-6107930.html

  1. Peter Fonda Knew Easy Rider Was Unique By Mark Collins – Feb 8, 2013

https://www.dailycamera.com/2013/02/08/peter-fonda-knew-easy-rider-was-unique/

  1. From Vertigo to Psycho, how Hitchcock changed the role of architecture in film by Pete Collard

https://www.wallpaper.com/art/hitchcock-architecture-in-film-vertigo-psycho

  1. Vertigo (1958): An American Obsession written by David Khaziri May 31, 2018

https://www.thehistoryofcinema.com/vertigo-1958/

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