A cross-country trip to sell drugs puts two hippie bikers on a collision course with small-town prejudices.
**_Quest for freedom_** If you can't handle the counterculture movement of the late 60s and early 70s and all that went with it (hippies, drugs, skinny dipping, free sex and communes) I suggest staying away from "Easy Rider." For everyone else, this is an excellent period piece of the late 60s (shot in 1968) that explores the nature of freedom and the quest thereof. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper star as Wyatt and Billy, two hippies who travel by choppers from Los Angeles to New Orleans to attend the Mardi Gras. Along the way they experience gorgeous landscapes, a commune, jail, new friends, unexpected enemies, drugs galore and a brothel when they arrive. Jack Nicholson stands out as one of the friends they meet; while the beautiful Karen black & Toni Basil star as two prostitutes in New Orleans. What makes "Easy Rider" great is that it's more than just a road adventure with a modern Western garnish (i.e. Cowboys on motorized "horses"). The film has depth that separates it from the typical biker flicks of that era. It's really about freedom or the lack thereof. Wyatt and Billy certainly have some grasp of freedom - and they desperately pursue it - but they're ironically so shackled by their OWN carnal desires and growing addictions that the most they attain is a piece of it. Wyatt laments near the end of the film: "We blew it; we really blew it" as he realizes freedom has slipped through their fingers like water. Nicholson's character, George, has more of handle on what's going on, but he obviously has his own issues. The hippies at the commune seem to have escaped society's shackles but to what end? There's a reason communes never really caught on in America, and the film shows why. In an interview with Rolling Stone in the early 70s, Fonda pointed out that Wyatt represented everybody who feels that freedom can be bought, that you can find freedom through other things, like riding motorcycles across the country or smoking pot. He confessed that "Easy Rider" is actually about the LACK of freedom in modern Western Civilization. Wyatt and Billy are not right, they're wrong. So the most fitting thing the writers (Fonda & Hopper) could do in the end was... (I can't give away the climax). In a sense, they were committing self-destruction, which Fonda claimed America was doing. He said viewers often respond to the end by lamenting, "Look at those terrible rednecks, blah, blah, blah." But "Easy Rider," he pointed out, is a Southern term for a prostitute's man, not a pimp, but the dude who lives with her. He's got the easy ride. And that's what he claims happened to America - liberty's become a prostitute, and we're all taking the easy ride. So what's the answer? The answer's there and it's pretty clear, but I won't hand-feed it to anyone. Seek and you will find. This might give you some food for thought the next time you catch the film. Some modern viewers with ADHD criticize the film as boring, but I find it strangely engrossing from beginning to end. The climax is equal parts sudden, powerful, shocking and unforgettable. The film runs 1 hour, 35 minutes, and was shot in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah (Monument Valley) and Louisiana. GRADE: A