Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson

July 16th, 2008 at 11:30 am

So I’ve seen it: the latest documentary about author Hunter S. Thompson.

Surprise!

Gonzo The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson

Directed by Alex Gibney (Best-Documentary-Oscar-Winning Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron-Smartest Guys in the Room), the HST documentary is called Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson.

Not to be confused with the oral biography, Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson.

Let’s throw the usual fish in a barrel and shoot them: The book is better. It is far more exhaustive and illuminating, contains a larger cast of characters, and provides a more thorough, telling account of this singular man’s life.

Successful in its own right, Gibney’s documentary focuses on HST’s most significant and productive period of the 60s and 70s with plenty of time spent on his Nixon/Vietnam criticism paralleling the current Bush/Iraq fiasco.

Take plenty of Mescaline before viewing the documentary so as to thwart the nauseous effects provoked by the occasional re-enacted dramatizations. Otherwise, the documentary is thoroughly entertaining and provides a colorful glimpse into this beast’s life with unseen/heard home video and audio tapes. Especially enlightening was the footage of Thompson’s memorial service, in which his remains were fired out of a hundred foot tower capped by a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button, and his second wife Anita’s self-shot home video was a bizarre rabbit hole into the final day’s of Thompson’s life.

The end of the documentary strikes a somber note with some of those who knew him best wishing HST was still alive. He was a brutal, talented man, someone deeply needed in these queer times of ours.  His writing following September 11th and up to the Iraq War and his suicide is juxtaposed with recent images that reveal how eerily prescient the Good Doc has been. And always was. And could have still been.

How bad we could use him now.

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