Easy Rider is a 1969 road movie directed by Dennis Hopper which many see as representing the embodiment of the hippie lifestyle of the 1960s. The film tells the story of two young men, Wyatt (played by Peter Fonda) and Billy (played by Dennis Hopper), who "went looking for America but couldn't find it anywhere."
After smuggling some cocaine from Mexico to Los Angeles, Wyatt and Billy sell it to a man in a Rolls Royce (played by music producer Phil Spector) in exchange for a large amount of cash. With this money stuffed into one of the fuel tanks of their California style choppers (a type of customized motorcycle that was popularized by this film), they ride eastward in an attempt to reach New Orleans, Louisiana in time for Mardi Gras.
Wyatt, whose name evokes the American Old West lawman Wyatt Earp, dresses in American flag-adorned leather and calls himself Captain America. Billy, whose name evokes the American Old West outlaw Billy the Kid (or, perhaps, gambler Wild Bill Hickok), dresses in Native American-style buckskin pants and shirts. Clothed almost literally as America, they experience its land and people as they bike through the American Southwest and South. At one point they even witness the ceremonious prayer for blessing of the new crop of a commune, as put by a leader: A chance "to make a stand," and to plant "Simple food, for a simple taste."
While jokingly riding along with a parade in a small town, the pair are arrested by the local authorities for "parading without a permit." In jail, they befriend alcoholic ACLU lawyer George Hanson (played by Jack Nicholson). George helps them get out of jail and decides to travel with Wyatt and Billy.
While attempting to eat in a Louisiana restaurant, the trio's appearance attracts the attention of the locals. The local high school girls in the restaurant want to meet the men and ride with them; the local men and police officer threaten and verbally abuse the riders. Wyatt, Billy and George leave without eating and make camp outside of town. Wyatt and Billy introduce George to marijuana. As an alcoholic, George is reluctant to try the marijuana, but he eventually relents. The drug and events of the day cause George to comment: "This used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it."
In the middle of the night, the local men return and brutally beat the trio while they sleep. Wyatt and Billy suffer minor injuries, but George is killed by a machete to the neck. Wyatt and Billy wrap George up in his sleeping bag, gather his belongings, and vow to return the items to his parents.
They continue to New Orleans and find the brothel which had been recommended by George. Taking two prostitutes with them, Wyatt and Billy wander the parade-filled streets of New Orleans. They end up in a cemetery, where all four ingest LSD. They all experience a psychedelic trip, represented through quick edits, sound effects and over-exposed film. Their trip is not a positive one.
In the end, though Billy remains oblivious, Wyatt declares: "We blew it." Wyatt realizes that their search for freedom, while financially successful, was a spiritual failure. The next morning, while driving down a country road, both are shot by rednecks in a pickup truck.
Easy Rider on DVD