It’s impossible to be any sort of a journalist without having some sort of appreciation of the work of Hunter S Thomson. There have only been a handful of movie adaptations of the man’s work. 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best example of transferring Thomson’s anarchic writing style and wild metaphor onto the screen.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Hunter S Thomson was an American journalist whose savage and chaotic approach inspired a generation of reporters, columnists and writers. Thomson pioneered the idea of the journalist as ‘part of the story’, rather than as an observer. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is perhaps his best-known work, but perhaps the hardest to transfer onto the screen. Luckily, legendary director Terry Gilliam stepped up to the challenge to give us this journey into the dark heart of the American psyche, such as it was in the late 70’s.
Johnny Depp turns in a remarkable performance as the balding journalist, and Benicio del Toro’s transformation into the monstrous man known as Dr. Gonzo is nothing short of remarkable. The pair wheel their way through Las Vegas on a variety of drugs, moral stances and general craziness, navigating the choppy waters of an America waking up from the peace and love of the 1960s. The plot of the movie is only very loosely based on the book, with the movie’s focus being far more on a drug-addlled binge through Las Vegas. However, Gilliam captures the essence of the original work perfectly.
Sadly there is nothing terribly remarkable about this new DVD and Blu-Ray release. The print is as good as always has been but there aren’t any extras worth mentioning. However, this new release does keep a rather fine movie still in print and easily accessible. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is essential viewing; even if you aren’t a fan of drug culture or don’t have any interest Terry Gilliam’s directing style or Thomson’s polemic, it’s still a very, very fine movie.
Great film, though we wish the new release came with more interesting extras.
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1998) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: TERRY GILLIAM / SCREENPLAY: TERRY GILLIAM, TONY GRISONI, ALEX COX, TOD DAVIES / STARRING: JOHNNY DEPP, BENICIO DEL TORO, ELLEN BARKIN, TOBEY MAGUIRE, GARY BUSEYCHRISTINA RICCI, CAMERON DIAZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW