1st Edition

Music and Sound in the Films of Dennis Hopper

By Stephen Lee Naish Copyright 2024
    92 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Across his directorial films, American filmmaker Dennis Hopper used music and sound to propel the narrative, signpost the era in which the films were made, and delineate the characters’ place within American culture. This book explores five of Hopper’s films to show how this deep engagement with music to build character and setting continued throughout his career, as Hopper used folk, punk, hip-hop, and jazz to shape the worlds of his films in ways that influenced other filmmakers and foreshadowed the advent of the music video format.

    The author traces Hopper’s distinctive approach to the use of music through films from 1969 to 1990, including his innovative use of popular rock, pop, and folk in Easy Rider, his blending of diegetic performances of folk and Peruvian indigenous music in The Last Movie, his use of punk rock in Out of the Blue, incorporation of hip-hop and rap in Colors, and commissioning of a jazz/blues soundtrack by Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker for The Hot Spot. Uncovering the film soundtrack as a vital piece of the narrative, this concise and accessible book offers insights for academic readers in music and film studies, as well as all those interested in Hopper’s work.

    Introduction: Dennis Hopper in Context  1. Keeping It Cool: Easy Rider,The Rock Music Compilation Soundtrack and The Slow Death of the Sixties  2. Never-ending Daydream: Diegetic Sound, Aural Assaults, and Folk Mosaics in The Last Movie and The American Dreamer  3. Kill All Hippies: Punk Rock Rebellion, Elvis Presley, and Hippie “Burn Out” in Out of the Blue  4. Rebel Without a Pause: Rap and Hip Hop's Gang Affiliation, Popularity, and Battle with Authority in Colors  5. Blue Notes: Jazz and Blues Music Hybridity, and (Mis)Representation of Black Voices in The Hot Spot  Conclusion


    Stephen Lee Naish is a researcher and writer based in Ontario, Canada.