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

Movie Reviews | Jul 22nd, 2008

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Starring Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp, Sandra Dawn Thompson, Jann Wenner, Ralph Steadman, George McGovern, Jimmy Buffet, Pat Buchanan, Jimmy Carter
Written By: Alex Gibney
Directed By: Alex Gibney

I didn’t really know too much about Dr. Hunter S. Thompson before this documentary. I knew that Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas movie was based on him and also that he wrote & rode with the Hells Angels. But that was extent of it. I pretty much disliked Fear & Loathing because it was such a trippy movie and I couldn’t follow a damn thing. But this documentary sheds some light on who the real Hunter S. Thompson was.

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a documentary, written & directed by Alex Gibney. The documentary is 2 hours long and goes into a lot of detail about the life & death of Thompson. Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was a gonzo journalist who was most famous for his novel Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Thompson is also known for using lots and lots of mind-altering drugs and his love for guns. He was also heavily involved with politics and wrote for Rolling Stone magazine.

The film is narrated by Johnny Depp, who played Thompson (or Raoul Duke) in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and then became good friends with the gonzo journalist & author. The documentary covers everything from his death, Hell’s Angels, his run for Sheriff in Aspen, being involved with George McGovern’s campaign, and the infamous stories that lead to Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Plus there’s lots of other stuff as well including lots of interviews with friends, colleagues, and lots of archive footage of Thompson.

For someone who doesn’t know much about the man, this is certainly a good place to start. I only knew a few things about Hunter but after seeing this documentary, I know a lot more. Gonzo was very interesting documentary to me, because Hunter S. Thompson was extremely interesting. With all the drugs and gun play he did, Im surprise he lived through that. I’m surprised nothing happened tragically earlier. He took his own life a few years ago, and its something that was planned for awhile it seemed. It was all about legacy with him. As sick as it sounds, perhaps it might have been more effective if he carried out his suicide earlier in his career? I thought that his funeral idea that he taped planning in the 70s was quite eerie. But its also amusing that’s what he wanted to have done, and Johnny Depp made it all happen after he died. Thompson wanted his ashes to be shot out of a canon on his land, with Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man playing. The canon & tower was designed by his friend Ralph Steadman. His funeral became a big party with A-list celebrities and politicians attending. Its definitely a great way to celebrate a life.

The things I liked about Hunter and this documentary was the focus on George Mcgovern’s campaign. I remember briefly reading about McGovern in school but didn’t really know anything about his campaign. Or maybe I just didn’t pay attention in history class. Thompson loathed Nixon and liked a lot of the qualities that McGovern had in him. When I was watching the documentary, something really clicked in my head that all this stuff sounds way too familiar. War mongering President (Nixon/Bush), trying to get our troops out of war, etc. and a new promising candidate (McGovern/Obama) is on the horizon. History likes to repeat itself that’s for sure. Lets hope Obama doesn’t repeat the mistake of McGovern though. But enough of that political crap.

Overall, I thought this was an interesting documentary that showcased Thompson as a pioneer journalist that had a lot of great qualities about him. But there were a lot of things that were just weird & off about Thompson as well. But the weird stuff is what made people fall in love with the man. He was definitely one of the most eccentric writers. If you’re a fan of Hunter S. Thompson, be sure to see this if you can.

Bottom Line: An interesting documentary that turned me into a Hunter S Thompson fan
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Rating: R
Running Time: 118 minutes
Overall Rating:


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