Easy Rider - 1 Greg Reynolds History 7B: Section 126 9 May...

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Greg Reynolds History 7B: Section 126 9 May 2008 Easy Rider Cruising the highway atop their motorbikes, Billy and Wyatt seem to intrinsically understand the rebellion that defined their time. As rock overtakes the audience and sweeps them dancing and singing into the world of the 1960’s, it is easy for one to understand the impact of Easy Rider . In an era of rebellion and backlash, of new drugs and new ideas and of a burgeoning “silent majority”, Easy Rider, written by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, expressed the developing culture of the late 1960’s. From the drugs, sex and rock n’ roll to the disillusioned hippy communes right down to the racism of the South and even to the growing conservative backlash, Easy Rider portrays a slice of its era ready for viewing. Following the adventures of Billy, also known as the Cowboy, and Wyatt, also known as Captain America, the film tracks their journey to Mardi Gras and the people they meet and places they go on the way. Easy Rider is iconic of the late 1960’s in its music, cinematography, and overt and subtle themes. As a story this film is by no means complex, with only short scenes of dialogue interspersed with shots of the protagonists traveling over open land set to music. The story begins with longhaired Billy and Wyatt getting their nest egg from a cocaine deal and beginning a journey to New Orleans to experience the existential and carnal joys Mardi Gras. Although not a conventional beginning it serves to show the shady means the main characters are willing to resort to in order to lay claim to freedom. Not long after Wyatt encounters a flat tire and the duo are forced to get assistance from a kind farmer for whom Wyatt holds great admiration “It’s not everyman that can live off the land, you know? You can do your own thing in your own time. 1
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You should be proud.” Soon the protagonists have remounted their bikes and are back on the road, but are waylaid again by a hitchhiker who brings them back to a hippie commune in the desert where Wyatt is again impressed by the agrarian lifestyle of these onetime city kids, “W: And they’re city kids. Look at them….They’ll stay here till it’s harvested…B: There’s nothing but sand. They ain’t going to make it. W: They’re going to make it.” As they only have a week to make it to Mardi Gras the protagonists move on and end up participating in a local parade, just to be promptly scooped up by the police for “parading without a license”. To get out of jail they elicit the help of a cellmate who happens to be a well-connected lawyer, George Hanson, who decides to join their quest. This leads them to a small Southern
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This note was uploaded on 09/07/2009 for the course HISTORY 6b taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Easy Rider - 1 Greg Reynolds History 7B: Section 126 9 May...

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