Words By S.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

Filed under: Film — S @ 10:17 pm

Gonzo (adj.): Crazy; eccentric.

I had the pleasure of seeing this film today (when the entry starts off like that, you know it’s a good one).  As the title so succinctly puts it, Gonzo is a film about the life and work of the late journalist/author, Hunter S. Thompson.

Part biopic, part documentary, the film nicely fuses the works of Hunter with his life.  Chock full of interviews with friends, family, and important figureheads that were impacted by Hunter, as well as readings of his works by Johnny Depp, the film does a nice job summarizing his life and his legacy.

The film starts with a voice-over and scene of Hunter typing up an article about the September 11th attacks, the day that it happened.  In the article, he predicts the future of the world, as it is today.  From there, we delve into his life, and learn about the impact he would make on American society.

We follow the life of Hunter from his lower-middle class childhood in Kentucky to his trek to Aspen, Colorado.  Along the way, we get visual aids from archival footage via home movies, game shows (“will the real Hunter S. Thompson please stand up”), photographs, interviews and reenactments.  Hunter’s two wives and son also provide a lot of input into telling his story.

Throughout, the film is reinforced with readings from his books, done by Johnny Depp, and also clips of the films Fear and Loathing and Where The Buffalo Roam.

We learn about his friendship with artist Ralph Steadman as well as with lawyer Oscar Acosta.  We learn about his impact on the presidential candidates George McGovern and Jimmy Carter.  We also learn about his impact on American society as a whole, and subsequently the impact his fame would have on his family life.

The film did a good job of expressing Hunter’s brand of humor, showing his humanity, as well as showing his drug addled, gun wielding craziness.  And, when approaching the subject of his death, continued to express it with his brand of humor and eccentricity, without becoming overly sentimental and sappy.

A very good film, indeed.


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