Sunday, September 4, 2011

"One Week" on DVD (Compared to "Easy Rider")

I finally found the DVD movie "One Week" at the video store for as reasonable price ($6), so I'm going to go over that trans-Canada motorcycle trip again.

Unlike "Brokeback Mountain", "Land of the Lost", "Get Smart" and "World's Fastest Indian", this movie does not have men kissing each other. But on the other hand, being a Canadian movie, we can see the Jesus on a crucifix giving us the finger. Apparently Canadians like movies that are Godless but not too gay.

I ("The Lost Motorcyclist") also recently acquired an "Easy Rider" DVD, and I have made some comparisons between the 40+ year old American movie "Easy Rider" and the Canadian "One Week". You could call "One Week" an updated Easy Rider made for Canadians and apparently nobody else.

While Easy Rider features two American Harley Davidson motorcycles, One Week features a British Norton Commando. Makes sense because we don't have a Canadian motorcycle, but many of us think we are British. Easy Rider works the US flag into the paint jobs on the helmet and the gas tank, while the Norton remains plain black and so does the rider's helmet. The Canadian movie hero is a normal person, who blends into his surroundings, while the Easy Riders contrast starkly from the people they visit.

Both movies end in death and the destruction of the motorcycles, but in the Canadian movie is is natural or accidental, respectively. Both movies involve dope, although Easy Rider goes much further with the drugs which is natural, being America of the sixties. Should be easy to guess which movie has guns (Hint: country name starts with U and ends with SA). One Week had a lot of animals featured prominently in it: The dead dog, the dead skunk in the road, the live dog on the trail, and horses to ride.

Easy Rider's soundtrack is a compilation of popular hit parade songs, "One Week"'s is made up of obscure Canadian folk or pop.

Both movies were made on a very small budget, on location, using local people for background. The Budget for Easy Rider was $400,000 in 1968, and One Week was $2,000,000 in 2008. There is no doubt Easy Rider made more money. $60,000,000 vs. $500,000. That could be why most movies made in Canada blot out the country name. On the other hand, the One Week crew got a few two-four cases of free Steamwhistle beer in return for some very subtle product placement in the movie.

Both movies feature unrealistic bikes and gear, assuming they were supposedly used for the long haul. The Norton was probably much better for riding than the chopper Harleys, but not as good as most others in the year 2008, and it was not even suitably equipped with a windshield for the cold time of year this was filmed. In a nod to realism, twice during the movie the Norton was shown to be requiring mechanical attention. Although "bad gas" would not have been in the top 100 most likely causes for a Norton to break down.

Both movies end with a bit of a verdict on their country. Easy Rider with the puzzling "We blew it". One Week with the German tourist saying "You haff one of the most beautiful countries in the vorld".

The makers of One Week must have realized a profound truth about Canadian scenery. It looks better if you shoot it out of order. Shown in the order you come to it, Canadian scenery is fatiguing. But put a little Ontario, then a shot of Saskatchewan, then a bit more Ontario, and then some Alberta, and keep mixing it up, and it is quite exciting. In a similar way, I would probably also enjoy the Canadian climate more if every other month was warm.

A part of One Week I kept noticing, because it was so different from my own motorcycle trips was the constant cell phone usage to call home. When I went on long trips, I had no cell phone, and often no way to call home at all, and I never thought about it. Same with Easy Rider, mainly because it predates cell phones. One thing I assumed was a basic part of long rides was the feeling of getting away to a new place, but I wonder if that feeling goes away as you keep chatting with friends and family back home.

Of all the songs to feature in the movie, the strangest choice in my mind is "Un Canadien Errant", the sad tale of Canadians banished from their homeland, which was sung in the original French. Or maybe it is somewhat fitting for the sadness of the terminal illness in the main character.


  1. Hadn't heard of this film (although that signifies nothing, given how much attention I pay to the film industry ;-)

    Will have to check this out when I get a chance ... sounds intriguing.

    But, you're right ... for an extended trip these days, few would actually use an old Norton ... classy, classic, but more trouble than they're worth and more discomfort than necessary ;-)

    And, quite right, too ... cell phones do take the mystery and charm out of a trip (but, I suppose, our generation doesn't really understand the younger generations' need to be in constant touch with each other).

  2. Well, I found One Week a charming little film, capturing several of the qualities I like to think of as 'Canadian:' modesty and understatement.

    Admittedly, it does strain one's suspension of disbelief a bit to watch someone do a cross-country trip with that little gear - but this'd be more a problem for those (few) who have actually undertaken a long bike trip.

    The sound track works for me. Especially the heavy blast from the past that came with Un Canadien errant ... Ian & Sylvia's rendition serving as background music to my own aimless drifting through Europe in the Sixties ... Parcourait en pleurant, des pays étrangers.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. I love this film--one of the few people who saw it in the theatre---and saw it again just recently on CBC

    As for the Norton x-country--don't forget he doesn't start out to go that far--was suppose to be a weekend...but yeah would have been a long ride on it

    the scenery was great, soundtrack cool..I really liked it...

  4. I just saw the movie last night on netfix. Its a great movie. I enjoyed getting to know Canada a little.

    I think the small amount of gear was his choice as he explained in the movie that he may have made different choices if he did not have terminal cancer. Like staying in fancy hotels.

    The Norton is plenty capable of this trip especially since he had one that was meticulously maintained by the old biker. It was beautiful and easy to see why he made this choice. I kept thinking he needed a windshield, but apparently this is not what he wanted. this was a story of doing what he wanted on and adventure, not what others wanted.

    As far as the cell phone, its the best piece of gear to take on a trip and it saved him once. It seemed to be important to keeping things together. I always have one when I go far on my old Yamaha 650. Yes it will make a long uncomfortable trip too.

    I never liked Easy Rider the movie, it was just too weird for me. But I love what people make of it.

    1. True, sometimes the old guys can make a bike more reliable than it was even when new, given enough time to work on it.

      Just this summer, I went on my first trip with a cell phone. I will probably use it for all future trips. It didn't make the trip worse in any way, I actually enjoyed calling home a few times (but I didn't over-use it either, I have seen people do that, I don't like it.)