First things first here. I must admit that I learned about this movie from another blog and am reposting a link to the you tube version of this movie. Check out Kick to Kill as the dude has cool taste and has turned me on to more than one thing I now enjoy.
The Hired Hand is the movie Peter Fonda made following the success of Easy Rider. He was given money and complete creative control over the film. The result is a beautiful psychedelic western that is both traditional and modern. The narrative, settings and general look of the film stay very true to the traditional western where the pacing and editing show the sign of the time and culture when this movie was made. The pace is slow at times, maybe a little druggy, and the editing definitely shows a modern edge. The montages that are interspersed through out the movie are my favorite part and are the main element in giving this movie it's hazy atmosphere. The combination of the visual and the soundtrack is killer, very similar to (another personal favorite) the montages in Herzog's Heart of Glass.
Speaking of the soundtrack! Amazing. As I was watching the movie I was convinced it was Sandy Bull but I was wrong. Bruce Langhorne lays down some very eastern sounding folk. Stark, sad and haunting. I am rarely moved enough by the soundtrack to a movie to track it down and listen to it repeatedly. Maybe this information will persuade you to check this out?
I could continue to yarn on about how complex the characters are, about the intense issued explored, the modern ideas expressed in a very traditional way, and so on. I would just suggest watching the movie. It is available through Netflix both streaming and on DVD. And it is on you tube. You have no excuse. I would also recommend checking out Dennis Hopper's post-Easy Rider film The Last Movie, however I would not give it this level of praise.