Many of the New Wave filmmakers were anti-mainstream and this was visible in their films. For example, in Jules et Jim (Frani?? ois Truffaut, FR, 1962), Truffaut is clearly venting his feelings of resentment towards the government. With some the filmic techniques and themes present, Easy Rider is very similar to films like Jules et Jim. Location filming and natural light was favoured amongst the directors of the Nouvelle Vague. This gave the films their organic, casual look. In both day and night, Easy Rider utilises these elements in its journey scenes on the road.
The New Wave also introduced a number of innovative editing strategies. This transpires several times in Easy Rider when scenes are connected through a series of jump cuts. This transitional device indicates a voyage from one scene to the next, augmenting the theme of journey. Moreover, the French films recurrently violated Hollywood conventions and mainstream principles regarding film making. Easy Rider does this by disregarding the laws of classical editing – the 180i?? rule is ignored innumerably.
Furthermore, the film’s representation of non-stereotypical female roles, such as the bohemian Lisa and Sarah, further aids the films anti-Hollywood perspective. The films of the Nouvelle Vague contained numerous moments of casual, and sometimes, anarchic humour. This can be located in Easy Rider whenever Jack Nicholson’s character, the intoxicated George, takes a drink. He follows up his mouthful with an eccentric arm and head movement whilst emitting a loud indiscriminate noise. He completes the routine with a random word such as ‘Indians’, ‘swamp’ or ‘firecracker’.
Another facet of the French New Wave was its sudden shifts in tone and unpredictable constituents. The final sequence of Easy Rider conveys this as the mood alters from being content and relaxed to shocking and distressing in a matter of moments. The deaths of Wyatt and Billy come as more of an astonishment as seconds earlier the audience are led to believe that the film will hold a happy ending. Whilst the film makers of the New Wave did not approve of Hollywood and its customs, they were appreciative of its auteurs (as this reinforced the idea of authorship) and consistently made reference to them within their productions.
In Easy Rider, respect is paid to the work of John Ford through the use of Monument Valley and other Western references. Additionally, the French aimed their films at young, intellectual audiences. Easy Rider reflects the collapse of the idealistic 60’s that revolved around youth. Therefore, it was the youth of America that related to the film on its release. Countless educated remarks are made on the social situation within USA, intensifying its intellect. Furthermore, the Nouvelle Vague continually reminded the audience that they were watching a film.
Hopper achieves this with his drug trip sequence in New Orleans. A brilliant montage of weird camera angles, psychedelic bursts of light and inane murmurings successfully interpret an LSD experience, whilst recapping to the audience that it’s a movie. The New Wave also implanted certain qualities into its characters. They were often young, marginalized anti-heroes – a perfect description of Wyatt and Billy. They are outlaws who do what they want and take orders from nobody. The characters of the Nouvelle Vague behaved spontaneously, insubordinate to society.
Wyatt and Billy do this throughout the film, such as when they “paraded without a permit”. Similarly to their creators, the French characters were anti-authoritarian. The characters of Easy Rider adhere to this attitude as they frequently discuss how they are against the ‘system’. Finally, the characters in the New Wave films had a tendency to act immorally. Wyatt and Billy gain their funding for their journey by drug dealing and they spend some of that money at a brothel – two things considered particularly debauched.
In all forms of art cinema, themes of freedom are often employed. Firstly, art films possess the freedom to be low budget and break rules. Easy Rider only cost $340, 000 to produce and I have already exemplified the films insurgent desires. The freedom of Wyatt and Billy is symbolised in the films Western imagery. To begin with, their names are references to the cowboys Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid. Instead of horses, they ride through the vast landscapes on motorbikes – modern day steeds. This is intensified during a scene when they’re repairing Wyatt’s flat tyre.
Through the operation of cross-cutting, a visual parallel exists between Wyatt restoring his bike and a farmer fixing a horseshoe onto a horse. This juxtaposition is another link to the Western outlaws who were also known for their uninhibited way of life. Furthermore, when Wyatt notices indications of freedom within someone else, he shows great admiration towards them, further strengthening the importance of the theme. When they have dinner with the farmer’s family, Wyatt comments: “You’ve got a nice place. It’s not every man that can live off the land, you know.