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Filming Hunter S. Thompson's Writing: New Animation and Old Clips

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood January 17, 2013 at 11:18AM

A decades-long history of mixed visuals represent the Gonzo journalist's exuberant words on film. In honor of Piotr Kabat's fantastic new animation of Hunter S. Thompson's work (posted here and below), we rifle through a few other films attempting to get to the heart of this wild figure.
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HunterSThompson

A decades-long history of mixed visuals represent the Gonzo journalist's exuberant words on film. In honor of Piotr Kabat's fantastic new animation of Hunter S. Thompson's work (posted here and below), we rifle through a few other films attempting to get to the heart of this wild figure.  

Fear and Loathing
"Where the Buffalo Roam" | 1980 | Inchoate and Quirky
This comedy, semi-based on Hunter S. Thompson's whacked-out adventures in the 1970s, was called "bad, dumb, low-level, low rent" by the journalist. Neither Bill Murray's acting nor Neil Young's score could save this bizarrely structured biopic that took the punch out of Thompson's words.  However, as Roger Ebert said, "this is the kind of bad movie that's almost worth seeing."

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" | 1998 | Frenzied and Brilliant
Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro take on Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, fictional exaggerations based on Hunter S.Thompson's essays. The aesthetics are crazy, like a living Salvador Dali painting, as the two engage in psychedelic shenanigans in the backdrop of the ghoulish and vacuous Las Vegas.  

"Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson" | 2008 | Sensitive and Thorough

Johnny Depp in 'The Rum Diary'
Johnny Depp in 'The Rum Diary'

This 2008 documentary, directed by Alex Gibney, attempts to give a complete and tender portrait of the man behind the writer. Gibney explores Thompson as an influencer in music and politics, with commentary provided by Ralph Steadman, Jann Wenner, Jimmy Carter and Tom Wolfe. Johnny Depp narrates.

"The Rum Diary" | 2011 | Bright and Bland
Johnny Depp takes on the journalist once again in this movie version of Thompson's novel of the same name (it was written in the early 1960s, but not published until 1998). Depp brought a free-wheeling and unencumbered perspective to the role, whereas the original book was much more soulful and searching. The movie is marked by Caribbean blues and 1950s pastels -- a look that stands apart from the garish and whirling "Buffalos" and "Fear and Loathing."

This article is related to: Johnny Depp, Narrated by Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp, Bill Murray


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.