Hunter S. Thompson has been called one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century and the Mark Twain of his generation. What he left behind is a trail full of drugs, violence, and the harsh violent truth of reality as he saw it. From his early work about Hells Angels, where he spent a year with the infamous motorcycle gang, to Hey Rube, a collection of sports articles he had written for ESPN. Of course, being Dr. Thompson, he did not write all about sports in Hey Rube. Hunter S. Thompson had seen everything you could ever see in a lifetime and beyond. His methods are questionable at best, but he wrote what he saw with conviction and most writers do not do that. One of his well-known works is called Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Dr. Thompson called it a failed attempt at Gonzo Journalism, which is a style that he created or at least popularized. Some of the events in Las Vegas are true, some of it is not, but the truth is always stranger than fiction.
Thompson at Las Vegas '71
Las Vegas starts simple enough; "We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold." Dr. Thompson, or Raoul Duke as it was first written by in Rolling Stone magazine, sets you up what is about to happen in the first sentence. This is how both the book and film starts. The film was released in the summer of 1998, the same day Godzilla came out no less, and it was directed by Terry Gilliam. Terry Gilliam was part of the Monty Python comedy troupe. He also directed 12 Monkeys and Time Bandits. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starred Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke, which he based his performance by Dr. Thompson, and Benicio Del Toro as Dr. Gonzo, which was based of Thompson's friend and attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta. I consider Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas one of Johnny Depp's best films. Both Depp and Del Toro are amazing in this film. The film also had a handful of cameos including Lyle Lovett, Harry Dean Stanton, Cameron Diaz, Penn Jullette, Hunter S. Thompson himself, and more.
WITH A BIT OF LUCK
On the outside, the film can be viewed as a stoner comedy. The trailer plays this off, but it is much more than that. It is about two friends trying to find the American Dream in 1971 and why it has failed. After surviving the sixties with its police brutality and the uncertain future of America. They decided to head out to Las Vegas to find it, in Sports Illustrated expense, as Duke/Thompson had to cover the Mint 400. Thompson was part of the Chicago Riot of 1968. He went on and said that the riots were much worse than any Hells Angels had ever done in the year he spent with them. One of the most memorable passage in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was simply called the Wave Speech:
All that talk and protest for Peace was for naught. The Vietnam War continued. The film is not for everyone, there are things in this movie that will make you hate it, but it does not shy away from what is shown and heard, and that what makes it so great. One of my favorite scenes is simply known as Adrenochrome. A fictional substance that gets you higher than you ever thought possible. In the movie, Raoul Duke tries some out and while the effects begins to take hold, his friend Dr. Gonzo begins to change into a wild beast complete with claws, horns, hair, and tits in his back. It is dark and twisted, but it has nothing compared to the next few scenes in the movie. Duke has recordings of all that had happened when he finally woke up from the drug trance. The music and the inter cutting between scenes is perfect. Total insanity and unsure of what will come next. The film also has one of the most suspenseful scenes in all of film, I was afraid of what might happen when I first saw the film years ago.
THERE I WAS... MOTHER OF GOD, THERE I AM!
That was the movie, but what about the book? Well, actually, the movie and the book are quite close with each other. Yeah, there is a scene or two that was in the movie, but not in the book. There is actually a scene that was in the movie that never made it to the book. Nevertheless, as it stands, it is one of the most faithful adaptations you could ever want in a film. Does this lessen the book? No, in fact, it improves upon it. The film feels more like a companion piece of the book. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but at least watch the movie once. It is dark, twisted, funny, strange, and at times truthful. If you decide to read the book and liked it, read some of Hunter S. Thompson's work as well. I have read some of his work, but not all of it, and what I did read, I did enjoy. There is another movie called Where the Buffalo Roam, it has Bill Murray as Hunter S. Thompson. It is not the best film you will ever see, but it is interesting to see what Murray's take on Thompson and see what Depp did. However, to know the real Thompson, I would suggest Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
"When the going gets weird. The weird turns pro." - Hunter S. Thompson.
About BlinkingPixels One of us since 5:51 PM on 12.01.2007
Hey. If you are reading this then that means you have found my blog. It's not hard to miss though, but it's nice to see that someone is reading it. Not much to go on than what I've written over there.
I also try not to spoil any game. No matter if it's old or new.