In the late 1960s, American cinema ushered in a new era by taking a walk on the wild side. After a reign of glossy Hollywood productions and extravagant musicals, young audiences wanted to see a more real depiction of the world and society in which they found themselves.
Independent filmmakers entered the scene bringing with them low budgets, radical camera work, and a disregard for conventional rules. With such revolutionary productions as Bonnie and Clyde, America was shown a shockingly new vision of realism and antiheroes. These films were not only experimentations of art but were also fueled with the agenda of a country in conflict. These three iconic films, all available on Netflix, reflect the changing perceptions of the nation during the sixties and seventies.
Easy Rider (1969, R). A young Dennis Hopper directed and starred in this picture alongside other newcomers, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. The premise is simple as is the lifestyle it portrays: Two countercultural Californians hop on their Harleys and take a cross country journey to New Orleans. Their trip has a documentary quality to it as they encounter eccentric country folk, experiment with drugs, and even enter into unwelcoming territory. Accompanied by a dominant soundtrack featuring Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," Easy Rider captured the American subculture of its time.
The Graduate (1967, PG-13). A coming-of-age tale revolving around awkward college graduate Benjamin Braddock played by Dustin Hoffman. Like many grads, Benjamin returns home after completing school to find he is unable to determine the next course to take in his life. Uncertain about his future, he spends the summer sowing some wild oats which ultimately leads him down a path of decadence. Benjamin cruises through the film in his Italian roadster, with a haunting Simon and Garfunkel playlist, exploring the borders of relationships and morals, never gaining certainty about his future.
MASH (1970, R). Though the television show may be more widely-known, this Robert Altman flick was the first on-screen feature to recruit such favorites as Hawkeye, Trapper John, and Hot Lips Houlihan. Though most of the film's actors differ from the television show, the characters still perform the same madcap antics and excellent medical skills of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. The team of surgeons spends its time engaged in nonsensical and absurd exploits while working and each does what he or she can to deflect the terrors of the Korean War that surround. The film also encapsulates a part of American history within its scenes. Its satirical focus on the ugliness of war plays into the popular anti-war sentiment of its time.
(Reece Kelly, a native of East Liverpool, studied Film at Regent University. He can be reached at ReecesReviews@gmail.com)