PEZ Goes to the Movies: The Bikes of Wrath

Cycling across the United States is an adventure many have undertaken, particularly since the mapping and signing of a transcontinental route in 1976 to mark the national’s Bicentennial. In the new documentary The Bikes of Wrath a group of five Australians follow a less celebrated path: that of the fictional Joad Family who followed Route 66 to California, escaping the Dust Bowl in their Oklahoma home. The cyclists get plenty of memories over their 32 days but raise plenty of questions about America today.The instigator of this trip is Charlie, 24 years old, and motivated by his enthusiasm for John Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. It is a dramatic work as it tells the story of the dozen members of the Joad Family, who set out in an old Hudson sedan-turned-truck from Sallisaw, Oklahoma, where the Dust Bowl has destroyed their farms and the bank has repossessed what remained, on a 2600 km/1500 mile journey along Route 66 to Bakersfield, California, in the hope of finding work and a new life. The book is perhaps one of the most read and discussed of 20th Century American literature and not only won the Pulitzer Prize but was specifically cited as a reason for Steinbeck’s 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature.The five Australian friends range in age from 24 to 35 and are a diverse lot: two were raised on farms, one is a fireman, another a Moroccan-Australian, and a documentary filmmaker. They decide to make the journey by bicycle…

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