AFI Movie Club: EASY RIDER – American Film Institute



EASY RIDER was selected for both AFI’s original and 10th anniversary lists of the greatest American films of all time, and “Born to Be Wild” was recognized by AFI as one of the greatest songs ever featured in a film. EASY RIDER’s journey to the big screen included AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Jack Nicholson. 

Watch Jessica Biel announce the film:


Movie Trivia about EASY RIDER

DID YOU KNOW although the screenplay was written by the stars of the film – Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, along with novelist Terry Southern – a great deal of the movie ended up improvised? 

DID YOU KNOW actor/director Dennis Hopper said that the marijuana used in the film was real? 

DID YOU KNOW in scenes depicting rural and small-town America, real-life farmers and other local, non-professional actors were used? 

DID YOU KNOW $1 million was spent to license the music for the film, which was about three times the budget for shooting the film? 

DID YOU KNOW director Dennis Hopper had only a week to prepare to shoot scenes at Mardi Gras? This was a result of Peter Fonda getting the date wrong! 

DID YOU KNOW Rip Torn was initially cast in the role of George Hanson? The part went to Jack Nicholson after director Dennis Hopper and Torn got in a heated dispute before filming. 

DID YOU KNOW the first cut of the film by Dennis Hopper, which took him 22 weeks to complete, had a runtime of almost three hours in length? The final film’s runtime was 96 minutes. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

– What does the term counterculture mean to you? 

–What made EASY RIDER resonate with people when it first hit the big screen? Do those same ideals still resonate today? 

–Why has there been a long running cultural divide between young and old? 

–How has social media changed how the youth of today have challenged the “establishment”? 

–Would the response to the film have been different if Wyatt and Billy safely drove off into the sunset at the end of the movie? 

–How would you rate EASY RIDER? 


In this exclusive AFI Archive video, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper talk about the film:


New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

In this time when we are reminded “There’s no place like home,” AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.


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