I was listening to the BBC (drive time) today and they said Mardi Gras was over in New Orleans. Made me think about Easy Rider and my “writer’s block” when it comes to reviewing great movies.
In my book, Easy Rider stands out for two reasons: Jack Nickolson and Laszlo Kovacs (cinematographer). Jack did a good job which took him to A-list status. Quite a different thing happened to Laszlo.
Laszlo Kovacs had to wear a “I’m not Vilmos” t-shirt, so he doesn’t get confused with Vilmos Zsigmond. Both of them left Hungary in 1956 with footage of the Soviet invasion which they sold in Hollywood.
For a long time “Easy Rider was my least favorite film, interestingly enough, because “Easy Rider” caused me the most heartache and the most bad times and all because I was rejected because of “Easy Rider.” It was just a few years back, you know, I just fell in love with this movie. And especially one element in that movie was so important to me because all these bike riding scenes through the trees and the forest, you know, you had this dappled light and you have this rainbow reflection in the lens, and that was a pretty unique creation at that moment. Nobody had ever done it.
Lens flares were considered a mistake back then. If you have an eye for detail, that’s not the only “mistake” in the movie. In the scene where the choppers are first seen, if you pay close attention, you’ll see a ton of lights getting reflected off the chrome surfaces. That’s another “mistake” that gets the message across in a powerful way.
His camera rig consisted of a “1968 Chevy Impala convertible… and put a half sheet of 4×4 plywood”. That’s why my dream “car” is a Toyota Hilux. It’s the low-budget filmmakers killer rig.
Laszlo recently got four Lifetime Achievement Awards. He’s a living proof of what my photography professor used to say: “underexpose or overexpose, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s consistent. You call this style.”