• Craig Hunter

Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider (1969) was directed by Dennis Hopper and stars Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Jack Nicholson. 

How does one describe this film?

A depiction of the experiences of two counterculture bikers as they travel across the Southern United States.

In the opening scene Wyatt, played by Peter Fonda, does a drug deal and receives a great deal of cash.  As if symbolically leaving the burdens of the world behind, Wyatt discards his watch, and the two bikers set off for Mardi Gras.

They drive all day soaking in rural America.  Then sleep at the side of the road by an abandoned shack and rusted out truck.  The next day, Wyatt is walking around looking at abandoned junk and he sees another timepiece--a pocket watch.  He wakes up Billy abruptly and they are back on the road.

They stop off to fix a flat on Wyatt's motorcycle at a ranch of a poor rural family.  A man fixes a horse's shoes as Wyatt fixes his bike's flat.  At dinner, Wyatt tells the man that he admires him because "he can do his own thing on his own time".

Back on the highway, they pick up a hitchhiker and go to a hippie commune.  They live there for a few days and then leave.

They get arrested in a small town and in the town jail they meet alcoholic lawyer George Hansen who always wanted to visit a whore house in New Orleans, so he joins them. At a restaurant in a small town some local boys look like they are going to give them trouble so they leave.  They stop at the side of the road and camp.  George tells them that the locals aren't afraid of them, they are afraid of what they represent, "freedom". While they are sleeping, the local boys beat them with baseball bats and George is killed.  

They drive on to the whorehouse that George wanted to visit.  They take two escorts out for Mardi Gras.  They walk around all night and then drop acid in a cemetery in the morning.

Now riding on the highway again, two hicks drive up beside Billy.  He gives them the finger and they shot him with a shotgun.  Wyatt checks Billy and he is still alive.  He rides off to get help and the hicks shoot him too. 

Roll credits...

If it seems rambling and pointless and that it suddenly and abruptly came to an end, that's because it was, and it did.

It seemed ironic that the characters who represented "freedom" seemed the least free.  They weren't welcome anywhere.  They had to remain itinerant and were frequently denied access to motels.

I liked this film but I hated all the characters.  It took a while for me to register that the actor behind the annoying Billy character, Dennis Hopper, was the same Dennis Hopper that played the brilliant Frank from Blue Velvet.

Check out Easy Rider on Amazon