Movie Easy Rider Dennis Hopper (1969)
Easy Rider, along with the Altamont festival fiasco, sounded the end of the 1960s hippie utopia. A road movie centered on two marginalized people perched on their two wheels, along the legendary Route 66, with the hit of Steppenwolf, Born to be Wild.
Ballarat, California
Ballarat, California - Credit: Paul Lovine on flickr

“Don’t tell anybody that they’re not free, because they’ll get busy killing and maiming to prove to you that they are. They’re going to talk to you and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it’s going to scare them. Well, it don’t make them running scared.”

George Hanson (Jack Nicholson)

Wanting to give the film a very realistic look, Dennis Hopper insists on shooting on location. ” God is a great gaffer,” he used to say to justify his choice not to use traditional spotlights and stratagems.

On the side of the road, in the shadow of the ruined buildings of the ghost town of Ballarat, the director shoots one of the most important sequences of the film: Wyatt, Peter Fonda’s character, takes off his Rolex watch before throwing it carelessly into the dust, thus definitively turning his back on his former life and the diktats of consumerism that he hates so much. The site is chosen for its picturesque character. It also tells the story of the pioneers and gives an echo to the speech of the feature film, where it is about giving up the comfort of a modern world that has become too narrow.

Afterwards, the team relocated near Flagstaff, on a section of Route 66 now impassable, and then near the rock formations of Monument Valley.

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The first assembly ofEasy Rider is extremely long. Even if the exact length seems to have been lost in the meanders of the story, there is talk of a five-hour film finally reduced to 96 minutes, despite the displeasure of Dennis Hopper.

The latter also illustrates himself on the soundtrack. While he is called to do it, the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is fired by the filmmaker. Finally, Peter Fonda offers to take care of it. He decided to exploit Steppenwolf’s hit Born to be Wild. A song that became the anthem of all bikers.


Easy Rider was made with a budget of $350,000. A paltry sum.

Scene in Ballarat in Easy Rider
Ballarat scene in Easy Rider – Credit: Pando Company Inc., Raybert Productions and Columbia Pictures
Scene in Ballarat in Easy Rider
Ballarat scene in Easy Rider – Credit: Pando Company Inc., Raybert Productions and Columbia Pictures


The Western United States is full of ghost towns. If some of them, like Calico, are nowadays very popular with tourists, others are only known by backpackers, like Ballarat.

Founded in 1897 to supply the mines in the canyons of the Panamint Range, Ballarat was named by an Australian immigrant after the town of the same name in the state of Victoria. At its peak, it had a population of 500, seven saloons, three hotels, a railway station, a post office, a jail, a school and a morgue. The village died out when the mines closed. In the 1960s, Charles Manson and his “family” lived there. There are still traces of the infamous guru responsible for the death of Sharon Tate. Currently, only one person lives in Ballarat year round.

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The Paris guide to the 1000 cult places of films, series, music, comics and novels

The Paris guide to the 1000 cult places of films, series, music, comics and novels

The coolest guide in Paris!

The café of Amélie, the mansion of Untouchables, the jazz club of the finale of La La Land, the Hôtel du Nord of the mythical replica of Arletty “Atmosphere”, the cinema of A bout de souffle, the restaurant of Ratatouille, the quays of the Seine of Midnight in Paris, the secret places of the Da Vinci Code, the grocery store of January in La Traversée de Paris , the Bridge of Inception and Peur sur la ville, the addresses of the spectacular scenes of Mission Impossible 6, but also series Call my agent, Gears, Le Bureau des légendes, Sense8, Sex and The City, Gossip Girl…

Etienne Daho’s Café de Flore, Jay-Z and Kanye West’s hotel in Nas in Paris, Serge Gainsbourg’s Poinçonneur des Lilas metro station, Serge Reggiani and Marc Lavoine’s Mirabeau Bridge, Mc Solaar’s Lyon station…

The places evoked in the comics Adèle Blanc-Sec, Largo Winch, Blake and Mortimer, Michel Vaillant…

But also in the novels of Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, Leo Malet, Daniel Pennac, Marc Levy, Guillaume Musso… you’ll find all the must-see places of Parisian Pop Culture in this new guide.

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By Gilles Rolland

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.

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