It was Tyler’s turn this week, and he started out with a short (read: music video) that I’m pretty sure had little to do thematically with the feature film. But here it is anyway, “Wires” by Red Fang:
I’m not at all sure why it’s tinted blue and why it’s backwards, because that was most certainly not the case when we watched it. And this video has been viewed like 2 million times so you’d think they’d get it right. Maybe my browser has finally outlived its useful life… Anyway, watch these guys ram a cheap car into a wall of milk, and other explodey things.
Tyler’s feature film is Dennis Hopper’s directorial debut Easy Rider, a widely acclaimed sixties counter-culture piece. Apparently the original rough cut of the film was something on the order of four to five hours…and I really feel like maybe they chopped all the plot out along the way. But as much as there is, I can review.
The film opens with two friends purchasing a reasonably large quantity of cocaine in Mexico. Pictured above is Wyatt, also known as Captain America (probably because of the flag he wears on his riding leathers), but probably best referred to as Easy Rider.
I call Peter Fonda’s character Easy Rider because Dennis Hopper’s character (“Billy”) is most definitely “Uptight Rider”. Uptight Rider’s uptightness may even end up being their ultimate downfall.
At any rate, the two friends (with any drama involved in bringing the cocaine across the border lost on the cutting room floor) turn around and sell the coke by an LAX runway and make themselves a very nice little profit. At this point, they decide to head off across the American Southwest with the goal of getting to New Orleans by Mardi Gras – because if you’ve just scored a ton of money on a drug deal, Mardi Gras is the place to spend it. Their route takes them across some of the purtiest scenery you can imagine (though the picture above doesn’t exactly do any of it justice – thanks Google image search!)
Somebody has even mapped out the alleged route the riders took – but I got this off of the internet, so take it for what it’s worth. Death Valley kind of looks like it was a bit out of the way.
The beginning of the route is pretty uneventful. They get refused a hotel room early on because of their long hippie hair (shoot, it’s not even that long!) so they give up and begin to camp out in the wilderness like true American pioneers. If at first you don’t succeed, just be homeless. It’s cool, because it’s the sixties and if you’re homeless you can just call yourself a hippie and you’re immediately respectable.
Eventually they pick up a fellow hippie hitchhiker out in Middle Of Nowhere, Desert (how did he get there?) and give him a lift to his hippie commune, which I gather was in Taos. They hang at the commune for a day and Easy Rider is kind of digging it (it appears they would have been welcome to stay) but Uptight Rider really wants to get to Mardi Gras so they bail out.
They end up getting thrown in the clink overnight somewhere in Texas for daring to join in on a city parade and while in there they meet local lawyer and town drunk George, who joins the tour and plays this strange role that lies somewhere between Nestor and jester (…so…Lester, right?) He teaches them all about alien conspiracies and wears a football helmet while flapping his arms on the back of the moving chopper like a grade-A moron.
Eventually they get to Louisiana and decide that they might like to have a bite to eat in a diner. Well, the place didn’t have the “Five Man Electrical Band” sign, but nonetheless they didn’t get served anything but a ton of abuse from the locals, aided and abetted by the Sheriff, and basically nothing good happens from this point forward in the film. First, the locals put together a little lynch mob, find the riders’ overnight camp, and beat them savagely with bats. George dies. Seriously. Straight up dies. Sorry, George.
But what are they gonna do? Going to the police would not be terribly productive seeing as the police were probably in on the assault/battery/murder, so Easy and Uptight just continue on to New Orleans, have a nice dinner, then hit up a house of ill repute that George was looking forward to visiting. They procure the services of a couple of ill-reputers but decide that instead of sticking around the bedroom, the four of them should head out and pull an all-nighter for Mardi Gras. They have a bad acid trip in a cemetery, and then seeing as the time has run out on the meter the riders head on out, presumably leaving the girls to go back to their ill-reputin’ and whatnot.
And maybe leaving New Orleans was a mistake because next thing you know a couple of rednecks pull up beside them in a beat up truck and shoot them for no good reason. Well, I mean, Uptight Rider flipped them off after they pointed the shotgun at him, but is it really his fault? Is that really being uptight? I don’t know. All I know is all of a sudden there’s a mortuus ex machina and both Uptight and Easy Rider are dead. The end.
I’m not really sure what the point of the movie was. Towards the end, Easy suggests to Uptight that they’ve blown it – he never explains what he means, but presumably it has something to do with valuing money over hippie commune living. I think it’s almost certainly deliberate that the final shot of the film shows Easy’s gas tank (which holds the ill-gotten money from their coke deal, secured in some rubber tubing) exploding from the redneck shotgun blast. So all that money, you know, poof! it’s gone. Easy come, easy go, people are jerks for some reason, if you want to be a hippie you should probably live in a commune or at the very least avoid rural Louisiana. I think that’s the message.
And seriously, my review here is probably longer than the screenplay. We’re talking no-drama drug deal, motorcycle riding, pick up a hippie, go to a commune, pick up a lawyer, get beat by rednecks, have a bad trip in a cemetery, get shot by rednecks. That’s your movie. And for me, at least, it’s a bit hard to swallow. How many instances of rednecks shooting hippies for no reason really happened? The theme of the movie seems to be “oh, we’re so mistreated because we look a bit different”, though, you know, to be fair, the whole massive cocaine deal does sort of give the lie to their “we ain’t doing nothing wrong, man” attitude. Did they deserve what they got? No. But did we deserve to have to sit through this? Mmmm…