Tuesday, December 2, 2008

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

DAN - “The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” This quote from the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a suitable introduction to the man himself. Gonzo is a documentary about Thompson, a rogue journalist and author who gained notoriety throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The film’s title comes from the term “gonzo journalism,” which was used to describe Thompson’s eccentric style of reporting. Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney composed this film from archive footage and interviews with those who knew Thompson.

Those of you who are familiar with Thompson’s book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (or the film adaptation starring Johnny Depp) are aware of the doctor’s other-worldly nature. The unashamed pot smoker once ran for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado and was highly involved (no pun intended) in politics for the majority of his life.

A large portion of Gonzo focuses on Thompson’s role in the presidential election of 1972. The reporter adamantly supported George McGovern, who lost to Nixon. This was one of the most intriguing segments of the film for me, as I observed parallels with America’s more recent elections.

A two-hour retrospection is hardly enough to capture the essence of a character like Hunter S. Thompson. The author once said, “...the public version of the news or whatever event, is never really what happened.” This documentary can only go so deep into Thompson's psyche; it’s more like a beginner’s guide to the man.