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Easy Rider - The Open Road and Freedom Hot


Movie Title
Easy Rider

Easy Rider is the classic road film. In fact, it's come to almost define what the road film is all about: two friends sick of the establishment head out on the open road in search of freedom. But whereas so many other road films have used cars, Easy Rider is a movie about motorcycles as well.

In fact, one might even argue that the motorcycles, or at least the concept of motorcycle riding, is as much a character as are Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. It's certainly not possible to imagine Easy Rider with any vehicle other than motorcycles.

Easy Rider is about Wyatt and Billy are two biker hippies travelling from Los Angeles to Mardis Gras in New Orleans. On their way they make stops at jail cells, whorehouses, and roadside campsites. They meet hitchhikers, a drunken lawyer, ranchers and do copious amounts of drugs.

Easy Rider & 1960s Counterculture

Easy Rider is also a major symbol of the 1960s counterculture because it touches on drug use, free sex, communal lifestyles, hippies, and rock 'n roll. This is probably why the use of motorcycles rather than any other vehicle is fundamental to the film. Motorcycles are themselves "countercultural" to varying degrees, so merely riding motorcycles across the country immediately place Hopper and Fonda in America's countercultural movement.

For those that grew up in the 60s, this freewheeling movie can serve as a transport to a familiar era. For younger viewers, it plays like a period piece reminding future generations of an America that was. This is appropriate, as a major theme of the movie is to raise questions about the direction America was taking and how that differed both from America's past and, most importantly, the ideals espoused by Americans.

This theme of Easy Rider is best exemplified in a short exchange between Billy (played by Dennis Hoppper) and George Hanson (played by Jack Nickolson), an ACLU lawyer they've picked up:

George: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it.
Billy: Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened. Hey, we can't even get into like, a second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel, you dig? They think we're gonna cut their throat or somethin'. They're scared, man.
George: They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.
Billy: Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.
George: Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell is wrong with freedom? That's what it's all about.
George : Oh, yeah, that's right. That's what's it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it, that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em.
Billy: Well, it don't make 'em runnin' scared.
George: No, it makes 'em dangerous.

Easy Rider's Motocycles

Because motorcycles are such an integral part of Easy Rider, it's as much a biker movie as it is a road movie, and that's what will be most appealing to most motorcycle riders. The most famous of course is the Captain America bike ridden by Peter Fonda, a California-style chopper with a fuel tank painted with the Stars & Stripes.

Four motorcycles were built, two versions of both the rides used by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda — one primary bike for filming and one backup bike in case the first wrecked or failed. There were justified concerns about the reliability of the motorcycles. They were all former police motorcycles (thus very well-used) — Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide models from 1949, 1950, and 1952.

But the film maker didn't just use stock bikes — all the motorcycles rebuilt according to the specifications of Peter Fonda himself. Unfortunately, the originals no longer exist. Three were stolen before the film was even technically finished and no one knows for sure what happened to them. The Captain America chopper that was destroyed in the final scene was eventually rebuilt and is in a museum.

Easy Rider Honors

Easy Rider has received numerous accolades over the years, starting with the First Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1969. Roger Ebert has written that "Easy Rider plays today more as a period piece than as liv black porn ing cinema, but it captures so surely the tone and look of that moment in time." Easy Rider has also been added to the National Film Registry because of its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.

Easy Rider is thus a movie that everyone should see because of its honors and significance alone. If you're a motorcycle rider, though, you absolutely have to see it because it's helped define motorcycle riding culture in America for the past couple of generations.


Easy Rider Trailer

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