In 1969, Easy Rider was released in American cinemas, marking one of the medium’s most significant cultural watershed moments. In an artistic sense, Easy Rider had a profound effect on the American film industry, galvanizing a demand for films which explored the increasingly disillusioned views of American youth towards the state of the world. Easy Rider, the story of two freewheeling travelling Americans searching for freedom, encapsulated the counterculture of the time better than any other medium whilst foreshadowing its future. The film has been described as a ‘touchstone for a generation’.
One of the first films to explore drug use and the hippie movement in non-propagandistic detail, Easy Rider had a cultural effect, which resonated beyond the confines of the film industry. Easy Rider encapsulated the aesthetics of the hippie generation, its storyline, soundtrack and attitude having an important influence on American youth. While it is difficult to quantity a piece of art’s cultural impact, it was undoubtedly immense. The widespread exodus of Western young people to the far corners of the world were undoubtedly, at least implicitly, influenced by the ideas in Easy Rider.
Although the hippie movement of the 1960’s has arguably reached its peak a few years prior and had begun its decline into cynicism, the film remains a hugely significant cultural relic, distilling the ideas of the counterculture down to their very essence. A major turning point in American cinema, the film’s influenced can be keenly felt in the youth culture of the 1970s and continues to resonate today, albeit to a lesser extent.