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Pyrmont Reviews: “Gonzo, The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S. Thompson”

gonzo Pyrmont Reviews: Gonzo, The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S. Thompson Hey there Pyrmont Village film buffs, if you are keen to see a new documentary, check out our review of Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S. Thompson by Denieal Williams.

When I first learned about journalist Hunter S. Thompson I thought “Surely this is an exaggeration he can’t be this crazy in real life?” Then I saw the documentary Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S. Thompson and realised he was, in fact, quite insane.

Most famous for his book-Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-the film portrays Thompson as a curiously prolific writer despite his junky status. He was always a character in his stories, eventually becoming such a caricature in his extremes that he became the subject of many comics-including his portrayal as “The Duke” in Doonesbury.

Fuelled by a never ending drug binge-and the unwavering desire to tell his version of the truth-Thompson created the subjective style of journalism-Gonzo. The film explores the birth of gonzo and how it played out in Thompson’s twisted life.

Through a series of interviews with his family friends, lovers, and enemies, we learn about the man famous for his contempt for authority and his love of guns and psychedelics. Eventually becoming the first a “rockstar” journalist Thompson ballsy style caught national attention when he rode with and wrote about the California Hells Angels for The Nation.

Thompson originally got his start in sports writing but most of his acclaimed pieces appeared in Rolling Stone magazine. He met Rolling Stone Editor Jann Wenner-who is interviewed in the documentary-when he was running for Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado. His “freak power” campaign encouraged the decriminalization of drugs, the tearing up the streets in favour of grassy “pedestrian malls” and renaming Aspen “Fat City”, to deter investors. He arrived at the Wenners office in San Francisco with a six pack and told him he was going to be the next Sheriff of Aspen and he wanted to write about it. His first piece was The Battle of Aspen.

The documentary, narrated in parts by Johnny Depp, also includes a lot of Thompson’s never-before-seen home video footage. It starts with Thompson’s suicide in 2005 and ends with footage of his wildly eccentric funeral. The funeral is inter-cut with eerie home videos of Thompson describing what exactly he wants to happen after he dies. The documentary also portrays his upbringing in a lower middle class family in Louisville, Kentucky and later his life with his wife and son pre and post-fame. The post-fame Thompson often expressed frustration over the celebrity status that resulted in his inability to be anonymous.

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S. Thompson is written and directed by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney. Stylistically the only failing is in the intro of the film when a poorly done re-enactment of Thompson at his typewriter comes off as cheesy at best. Otherwise the film is funny, poignant and often times sad. Through this documentary Thompson can be seen as both a raving, drug addled childish lunatic and as a funny and fearless genius. Either way this is a documentary well worth seeing.

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