Movies about bikers

The emblem of the "Sons of Anarchy" is a hooded image of Death holding a machine gun, to the muzzle of which is attached a scythe with drops of blood. In the other hand holds a ball with the letter "A" inside a circle

The movie industry has been interested in anything related to motorcycles almost since its invention. True, it must be admitted that the few attempts to make short films or films about motorcycle racing before the Second World War were not very successful. The audience liked Charlie Chaplin more than loud growling devices on two wheels that left a column of smoke behind them.

Yes, and with the plots, frankly, there was trouble. Take, for example, the short film “Uncontrolled Motorcycle”, produced in England in 1909 and now considered the first motion picture about motorcycles. The boy wants to annoy his older brother and hides an explosive device in his motorcycle, as a result, the motorcycle explodes in the house, destroying him. What can I say – hard annoyed. It seems to be funny, but somehow not very, rather sad. The audience didn’t seem to like it either.

About bikers, of course, in the first half of the 20th century, films were not shot, because then they were not even in the project. However, how loudly they declared themselves after the Second World War made them pay attention not only to the press, but also to the cinema.

We are talking about a pogrom perpetrated by bikers during the California festival in Hollister. There were these riots in 1947. The press, and after it, and ordinary Americans picked up this hot topic and “sucked” it from all sides. Still: long-haired bearded men in leather on snarling bikes frightened and attracted at the same time. It was impossible not to notice them.

Therefore, Hollywood bigwigs decided to take a chance and invest in a biker movie with a top cast. Thus, the Savage was born.

The first biker film and a resounding success

Part of the plot of “The Savage” is based on real events that took place in Hollister. The main role – the leader of the biker gang Johnny – was given to Marlon Brando, the sex symbol of the 50s.

Brando was so meticulous about the role of biker Johnny that he used his own Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and clothes on set.
Brando was so meticulous about the role of biker Johnny that he used his own Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle and clothes on set.

I must say that the choice was successful. Brando was not a good boy in ordinary life, his relatives did not hesitate to say that he was unbearable and unbearable. I think Brando didn’t need to play Johnny, he was made to be a biker. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons for the overwhelming popularity of the film in the States. By the way, after the release of the tape on the jacket, like Johnny, there was a crazy demand. So furious that from that moment on, “leather jackets” and “bikers” became inseparable concepts in people’s heads.

In addition, “Savage” fixed the image of “bad bikers” in the cinema. For example, the same Johnny is clearly not a positive hero, but a daring violator of public order, but Brando’s acting genius makes him treat him with sympathy and respect. It was the hero Brando who inspired many people who became bikers to radically change their lives. The rest of the bikers in the film are just outrageous and infuriate the inhabitants of the town, who eventually decide to unite, repel the hooligans and kick them out.

The best years of biker cinema

The triumphal procession of the Savage seemed to break through a dam. In the next 20 years, until the end of the 70s, about 150-160 films about bikers were shot. Their creators tried in vain to at least come close to the furor produced at the time by the “Savage”, but their attempts were unsuccessful.

The reasons for the failure are as follows:

  1. Lack of bright fresh ideas.

  2. Obsession with the stamps laid down by the “Savage”.

“Easy Rider”, filmed in 1969, stood out among other biker films precisely because it corresponded to the spirit of the times (we are talking about the times of the hippies) and rejected clichés. It was innovative in terms of plot, which, by the way, actually did not exist, since scenes and lines were invented on the go. It was innovative in terms of camera work (use of a moving camera) and editing (pieces of film were joined abruptly and without smooth transitions). There are a lot of documentary elements in it, for example, the main characters of the film smoke real marijuana, and the tough behavior of the rednecks is not feigned, because the director specifically provoked them.

The film demonstrated the existence of an ineradicable conflict between bikers and townsfolk. The so-called ordinary people in this tape are infuriated by being alone with bikers in the same room, irritated by the fact that there are people who don’t give a damn about their unwashed, unkempt, endless “shoulds” and “shoulds”.

Sooner or later, but this discontent had to be openly manifested, and in an unequal clash with rednecks armed with firearms, the main characters die. Yes, the viscous philistine swamp won, but the film “Easy Rider” to this day inspires bikers not to deviate from their principles even at the cost of their lives and has become a cult among them.

What about serials?

Sons of Anarchy, in my opinion, is the best biker series that has been made by 2022. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The series ended because the story of the Sons of Anarchy biker club was told in its entirety over seven seasons. Spectator interest in it remained at a consistently high level, while in this component most of the series cannot even last one full season.

  2. None of the films for 1.5 – 2 hours will show in such detail the internal relationships in a bike club, as well as the principles by which hierarchical relations between bikers are built.

  3. Viewers can see in detail how bikers earn money for beautiful leather jackets and cool Harleys.

  4. The series has great drama. Many critics have compared the plot of the series to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.


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