Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson

First Hit: Interesting story and well made film about an elusive man who hid behind a caricature of himself and in the end tried to live up to the image.

When I first read “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” in Rolling Stone Magazine I was dumbfounded. I thought, oh my God, somebody can write like this and it gets published.

The man who wrote this and other wonderful tales of life and life on the campaign trail was Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter wrote about the revolution of the 60s and 70s, he ran for sheriff of Aspen, he loved guns, and he had very strong feelings about politicians.

As with many others during this time, drugs and alcohol were a large part of his lifestyle which became part of his stories. The sadness about this approach is that he used the drugs and alcohol as fuel for his writing and with most efforts that rely on this sort of fuel; the piper pays and usually pays early.

Hunter had talent and he squandered much of it away and as the years went by his output became less focused, interesting, and tended to rehash old subjects. A very poignant part of the film was his own admission, and the film’s review, of what it is like when he began to live his legend and perception of himself versus living his life.

Two of the more interesting parts of the film were his discovery of the deep honest truth of Jimmy Carter and George McGovern both of whom I held, and still hold, in high regard as they ran for office.

Director Alex Gibney did a wonderful job of lacing together, interviews, archival footage, and the two previous films made about Hunter. I have tended to be concerned when a bio-documentary is listed at more than 90 minutes in length, but this film used its two hours fully, wisely and judicially.

Overall: This was an interesting film and will probably only reach a limited audience who read some of his stories, knew of him, or is might be interested in Gonzo writing.