Easy Rider (1969) is a mediocre character study that focuses on a
anarchic rebel of the hippy generation. The film is basically cheap propaganda
for the hippy ideology.
Wyatt (Peter Fonda), aka "Captain America", and Billy (Dennis Hopper) buy
cocaine in Mexico near an airport runway and sell it right away to a rich man
who shows up in a Rolly Royce. Wyatt hides the money in his motorcycle
and they take off for a long trek across the desert of the southern USA.
Mostly the trip is a pretext to show the dramatic landscape of the southern
states and to play rock music.
Wyatt picks up a hitch-hiker who is a hippy living in a commune.
They spend a day in the commune and we get a documentarian tour of its primitive
agricultural life and of its promiscuous sexual habits.
They enter a town where a parade is underway and ironically decide to join it.
The sheriff is not amused and arrests them. They are thrown in the same jail
with a drunk civil-rights lawyer, George (Jack Nicholson).
The following day a sober George in a suit and tie gets her out of jail.
He then gets on the back of Wyatt's motorcycle and takes off with them
through more desert.
At night they camp out under the stars and Wyatt offers George some marijuana.
George is afraid to try it but then lets Wyatt teach him how to smoke it.
George shares his belief in superior alien civilizations with them and
other mystical political theories.
They arrive in a rural area, finally leaving behind the desert.
The first town where they stop is old-fashioned. They turn heads when they
walk into a restaurant eccentrically dressed like they are.
The girls giggle, but the adult males are not amused.
The good townfolks began to make irreverent comments aloud about the three
strangers. The trio leaves without a word. The girls follow them outside and
ask for a ride on their motorcycles but the trio avoids trouble.
They camp again under the stars. George, again playing the philosopher, explains
that the townfolks is afraid of what they represent: freedom. People like to
hail freedom, but they get scared when they see really free people.
They smoke marijuana as usual amid a symphony of crickets and dogs.
After they fall asleep, they are surrounded by the men of the town, who
start beating them ferociously with no warning and just for pleasure.
When the men leave, George is dead.
Wyatt and Billy don't even think of revenge: they seem to take the event as
a natural disaster. Their only concern is to return the corpse and the
belongings to George's family.
The finally reach their destination, New Orleans, where the Mardi Gras parade
is about to begin, and decide to pay tribute to their fallen friend by visiting
George's favorite brothel.
They pick up two prostitutes, Karen and Mary, and spend the night and the day
doing drugs and making love. The
psychedelic trip is rendered via a free-form sequence of images.
Then they leave the city and camp in the woods.
They are ready to start a new trip, this time to the other coast, where they
plan to retire with the money they made from selling drugs.
As they are quietly riding on a country road, they are approached by some
fascist rednecks who shoot Billy in cold blood. Then they ride away and Wyatt's
only concern is to help his buddy. Wyatt gets back on the motorcycle to go
look for help but is confronted by the rednecks that have come back for him:
they shoot at the motorcycle's tank, making it explode. The camera takes off
to the sky like the smoke that rises from the blaze.