Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008 )

“Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” (2008 )

Festival Sitges 2008


pouring wine in a vase

I saw this inserted in a festival. Festivals are great occasions. There is a mood in the air, which invites us to see new things, ambitious ones. Most of the time, it must be said, i see failures, some glorious, others pure crap. But the possibility to see new surprise life altering creations compensates for all the eventually boring proofs we might have to endure. This little documentary is something of an exception in these types i described.

As a film in itself it has little value. It’s a collection of photographs, testimonies, old videos and testimonies made for the documentary, with a plus, Johnny Depp narrating Thompson. It is tailored like the serial documentaries the Discovery or History channel usually makes. But i actually enjoyed it. For one reason, i was ignorant about many of the aspects in his life, namely the politic involvements, which is a contradiction, among others, in the life of a counter-culture icon.

Anyway, it’s the very facts of Thompson’s life that move the whole thing, and sparks the whole interest this may have. Because there was something that displeased me, a kind of formal contradiction which nevertheless is fun to find: H.Thompson was important as a writer, fundamentally because he broke forms, and in the process created a genre on its own. His kind of writing is essentially visual, which means it’s also potentially cinematic – Gillian understood this, but in ‘Fear and Loathing…’ he was either to literal in his interpretation, or to attached to his own vision, so though he made a good piece, he was not fully faithful to Thompson. The visual quality of his writings can be tested in this documentary, whenever Depp reads. It’s powerful, and probably more effective than any of the footage used. There lies the contradiction. The documentary is vulgar, it uses a worn out formula for serial documentaries, equivalents to the kind of dull journalistic writing Thompson wanted to evade. See my point?

So, probably, Hunter will last for what he wrote, not for what he ‘was’. After all, it’s not uncommon or specially thrilling the kind of things he effectively did. Though that provided most of the juice and energy he puts in his writings, it’s not the orgies, or the guns, or the acids that make his life worth knowing.

Nevertheless, Thompson would perfectly incarnate the mood of a film festival. That’s a complement.

My opinion: 3/5

This comment on IMDb


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