From the visionary rebellion of Easy Rider to the reinvention of home in The Straight Story, the road movie has emerged as a significant film genre since the late 1960s, able to cut across a wide variety of film styles and contexts. Yet, within the variety, a certain generic core remains constant: the journey as cultural critique, as exploration beyond society and within oneself.
This book traces the generic evolution of the road movie with respect to its diverse presentations, emphasizing it as an "independent genre" that attempts to incorporate marginality and subversion on many levels. David Laderman begins by identifying the road movie's defining features and by establishing the literary, classical Hollywood, and 1950s highway culture antecedents that formatively influenced it. He then traces the historical and aesthetic evolution of the road movie decade by decade through detailed and lively discussions of key films. Laderman concludes with a look at the European road movie, from the late 1950s auteurs through Godard and Wenders, and at compelling feminist road movies of the 1980s and 1990s.