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Easy Rider [Blu-ray]
(Dennis Hopper, 1969)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Columbia Tri-Star
Video: Sony Pictures
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 36,520,993,681 bytes
Feature Size: 29,458,575,360 bytes
Video Bitrate: 27.80 Mbps
Case: Digi-book Blu-ray case
Release date: October 20th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 2464 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2464 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby TrueHD Audio French 1349 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1349 kbps
/ 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none
• Commentary by Dennis Hopper
•'Shaking the Cage' documentary (1:04:51)
• Music + Production via BD-Live
• movieIQ - Real-Time In-Movie information about the cast and crew
• 36-page Digi-book with photos, soundtrack + cast information, and essays.
Description: Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson (Best Actor, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, 1975) stars with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (who also directs) in this unconventional classic which Time Magazine hails as "one of the ten most important pictures of the decade." Experience the real, uncensored '60s counterculture in this compelling mixture of drugs, sex, and armchair politics. In the role that catapulted him to stardom, Jack Nicholson portrays an alcoholic attorney who hooks up with two part-time, drug-dealing motorcyclists (Fonda and Hopper) in search of their "American Dream." Heading from California to New Orleans, they sample the highs and lows of America the beautiful in a stoned-out quest for life's true meaning. Nominated for an Academy Award (1969) for Best Screenplay (written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern), Easy Rider continues to touch a chord with audiences of all ages.
If you follow the story closely in "Easy Rider," you find out it isn't there. The rough-cut of the movie reportedly ran over three hours, and Hopper edited it to a reasonable length by throwing out the story details and keeping the rest. So the heroes are suspended in an invisible story, like falcons on an invisible current of air. You can't see it, but it holds them up.
All of this divests a motorcycle movie of its weak point (the story) and
develops its strong point (the role of the self-proclaimed rebel in a
conformist society). It's not just bike freaks who get in trouble when
they challenge the establishment -- it's everybody, even Old George.
I was extremely pleased with the image quality via Sony's new AVC encoded Blu-ray of Easy Rider. It reports heavy grain, bright colors - especially in some of the countryside scenery, with an unexpected jump in detail - most notable in close-ups. Expectantly the 16mm New Orleans scenes are chock-full of grain (see sample below). I couldn't see any speckles though they may exist to some minor degree - but otherwise Easy Rider looks as close to theatrical as I am likely to ever see. This is dual-layered and the 40-year old film, running 1.5 hours, fills almost 30 Gig with the bitrate approaching 30 Mbps. This is a very good transfer and I never anticipated that it would look this 'authentic'. Noise is non-existent enough to ignore and by modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - I'm thrilled. I don't see intrusive DNR or edge-enhancements and this Blu-ray seems quite faithful - supporting the grain structure and the improvement over previous DVD edition in both detail and colors. The visuals get a big thumbs up...
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
We get a refreshing Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track at 2464 kbps. It makes it presence know early with the booming bass of the plane overhead before the opening credits run. For those who know the film - the effects are not abundant - even the motorcycles seem less aggressive than what might be expected. Where the lossless mix produces some the most crisp enjoyment is in the music;Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf, The Weight – The Band, Wasn’t Born to Follow – The Byrds, San Franciscan Nights – Eric Burdon & The Animals, The Pusher – Steppenwolf, It’s Alright Ma – Roger McGuinn, Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues, Get Together – Youngbloods - the rock'in elevates the film experience and then some in TrueHD. Fantastic and, not surprising, more crisp than the enclosed CD with the 2004 Special Edition DVD release. For those keen - the original mono track is still available for purists. There are optional subtitles in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
There is some new Blu-ray bells and whistles in the form of music + production information via BD-Live as well as movie-IQ - Real-Time In-Movie information about the cast and crew - both untested prior to release date. The latter has a description option when you press 'Play'. Of course the Digi-book is a beautiful keepsake with 36-pages of high quality color photos, soundtrack + cast information, and essays. We get the same Dennis Hopper Commentary track - with plenty of gaps and not directly relating to the onscreen activity. It does offer optional subtitles though. More informative, but still in 4:3 letterboxed widescreen is the hour-long Easy Rider: Shaking the Cage documentary featurette. I am always keen to hear Fonda talk about the film - it's all very casual with many of the cast - sans Jack. There are segments of Easy Rider scenes interspersed with the comments. It's very much worth seeing but disappointing that it wasn't bumped to, at least, anamorphic video status.
October 9th, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze