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A journalist and his attorney go on two drug fuelled visits to the sin city of Las Vegas. There they go on various trips fuelled by a myriad of different illegal drugs.
There really is very little to no plot at all, the whole film is really just a look into the mind of two drugged up people in the aftermath of the 60s hippie culture. It's a look inside the mind of halucangenc drug use but does not go into its consequences.
There is a lot of comedy here, but it is very dark comedy. Dr Gonzo's character does put my on edge as he seems to be borderline violent and could do anything at any time.
Johnny Depp and Benico Del Torro really perform here, I can imagine playing characters off their head constantly on drugs must be quite difficult and tiring. What really makes the film is Depp's narration, without it the film would not work at all. It's a shame Depp doesn't make so many unusual film roles these days, he is very good at it. Too much Jack Sparrow I think.
Terry Gillian's past work makes him an ideal choice to direct this film. He make a great job of portraying the characters descent into their drug fuelled psychedelic world excellently. He gets a lot out of his actors here too.
Visuals and Sound
Terry Gillian is the master of visuals, he has been brought up through the non CGI days and he knows not to overuse them. The music is an almost constant ream of 60s hippie music, most notably "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane in a memorable scene. The floors move and characters heads suddenly turn into fish type faces. It's hard to think of anyone but Terry Gillian being able to pull it off so well.
I find it a very hard film to put my finger on. It's not a film I would watch again but I am glad I've seen it. I can understand the many bad reviews, the film goes nowhere and you really don't care about the characters. I think this is the point of the film. I've never read the book but I understand it is quite faithful to it.
How much is real and how much is imagined is open to interpretation. I think this is the point of the film and also I believe the famous book of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson. It's hard to imagine the film being made by any else but ex Monty Python,Terry Gillian, it's really a perfect fit for him.
It could be seen to glorify drugs, I'm not so sure about that, it doesn't seem to be all that much fun to me, although there are not too many consequences to their actions are . The running length is about right, I didn't get bored, but I can't say I was always giving it my full attention. I can see why it's now a cult classic. It's definitely worth a watch.
Raoul Duke is on his way to Las Vegas to cover a bike race. As a journalist, it's kind of what he does. You know, go to different places and cover different things...only seizing an opportunity is too good to miss and we're never sure exactly what his interest in the bike race actually is, or if it even exists! He has brought along with him his lawyer, Dr Gonzo, and we first meet the two of the them as they are speeding across the Nevada desert on their way to Vegas, dodging a flurry of killer bats among other strange obstacles.
They pick up an innocent hitchhiker who gets more than he bargained for, the strange unfocusing eyes of Raoul and the constant fighting between Dr Gonzo (who is driving at this point) and the killer bats who seem to swoop down on him incessantly soon making him wish he'd continued walking. You see, the bats aren't real: they're hallucinations. That Raoul and Gonzo can both see them remains a mystery, but the mind works in mysterious ways when it's fuelled by all manner of illegal drugs. It turns out that the trip to Vegas isn't the only trip they're on, if you catch my drift...
What follows is a sequence of events, some jumbled up so that we're definitely not presented anything in chronological order, that serve to show two things: the first is that this plot is as shallow and unimportant to the film as you can get with a plot, and the second is to show just how messed up you can get when trying all manner of drugs in a short space of time. Following the film, you do get a semblance of understanding that our two trippers (yes double meaning intended) arrive at their destination and indeed spend some considerable time there. Director Terry Gilliam goes wild with the sets, flipping between the world we see and the hallucinatory vision the two main characters get. The hotel and its casino are at one point full of some sort of lizard aliens instead of humans, and perhaps the most entertaining factor of this is that Raoul doesn't seem fazed by it - just another person to talk to, regardless of how they look or whether they speak or grunt in reply!
To say it's the sort of film you understand when it finishes would be lying - you clearly won't have the slightest clue as to what half of the film's content was all about. All you do need to know is that most of what you see won't actually be what is happening - it'll be the drug fuelled vision of Raoul and Gonzo. The book is based on Hunter S Thompson's novella of the same name, with Johnny Depp playing the main character Raoul and Benicio Del Toro stepping into the shoes of Gonzo. Depp is stellar, getting into character and presenting himself as a drug addled nutter very easily - it's no wonder he was a shoe in for Captain Jack Sparrow when you look at this. He plays drunk and drugged extremely well. Raoul is a thin disguise for Thompson himself, indicating an autobiographical nature to the tale itself, and with Gilliam taking a fantasy approach to the special effects, you do wonder what was going on in the author's head when the novella was first conceived.
Gilliam is well known for his effects when directing, the fantasy element something of a forte for him. Here, the effects really do open you up to the mind's potential, and I'd say the film merely goes to advertise what we could imagine and envisage with the help of a drug induced spin out session. Whether this is Thompson or Gilliam talking with what we see on screen is to be decided, but it's visually impressive to say the least. It also serves to provide some humour, particularly where Depp is concerned. Del Toro is very good as Gonzo, the random nature of his character and the semi-control he seems to maintain despite the situation providing the difference between the two characters; but it's Depp as Raoul who steals the acting honours here for me. The charm and calm is present externally, through acquiring a hot convertible through illegal means, barging the queue to get his hotel room, walking into an anti-drugs convention and everyone turning round to see him with coke dust on his nose, and the various scenes in the rooms in the hotel and out in the desert. There's a certain sense of him being perpetually on the brink of falling over the edge and not coming back - expertly acted.
But then I'd expect no less from Depp, or Del Toro - or in fact Gilliam to be honest. I was happy to watch this film, safe in the knowledge that I wouldn't understand the vast majority of what was going on. It's certainly the sort of film you'd be best off watching a few times to try and pick everything up. Essentially, it's an exploration not just into what drugs can do to you, but also what they can do for you, or make you think they are doing for you. It explores the human psyche as well as building up and then shattering the American Dream, before then making you question whether it was all a dream in the first place. Confused? You will be, but stick with it. It's prime entertainment, with some comical moments, some weird ones, a couple of times when it drags a touch, but plenty of variety and quality. For that, it's well worth watching, and more than once. Recommended.
The first time I saw this film I was heavily inebriated. I would not recommend this as the best way to watch the film. In fact there is probably nothing worse than being drunkenly confused and then watching a film fuelled by drug hallucinations. Needless to say my first viewing went less than well and I went away thoroughly confused by what I had seen and horribly hungover.
A year or so later I decided, after a vehement recommendation from a friend, to give it a second attempt. I bought it on DVD and watched it stone cold sober, though I remain confused about the majority of this film I now see why is was so strongly recommended to me.
The film has been adapted from Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 novel of the same name. Interestingly enough when it first came out in the cinema is was a resounding failure. It has since become what is generally considered to be a cult movie, and a much loved film (and quoted) film for many.
The film follows Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) as they embark on a trip to Las Vegas. They carry with them a vast array of illegal substances, which they take in abundance and with complete disregard for their mental states. On their travels they pick up a hitchhiker (Toby Maguire) and explain that they are going to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race for a magazine. However, their drug fuelled behaviour soon terrifies him and he departs early on. The viewer follows these two main characters in the throes of a trip that lasts days.
The way it is shot is completely mesmerising and the effects used are impressive considering it was made in the 90s. The cast are great, Johnny Depp is enigmatic as always and completely captivating as Duke. The plot is confusing, with lots of twists and turns but in the way you would expect when following two characters on a drug fuelled jaunt. The choice of music is whimsical and adds an interesting element to the movie.
The film has a certificate 18 for obvious reasons, and the blatant drug use is definitely not appropriate for younger viewers. There is also a plenitude of language that those of a sensitive disposition may find offensive.
Overall, this is a film I enjoy more every time I watch it (and I plan to watch it again and again).
This film is about a 'journalist' (Johnny Depp) and his 'attorney' ( Benicio Del Torro) on a 'business' trip to Las Vegas, only the business takes a backseat as the two men get high on a number of assorted drugs. They find themselves tripping around Las Vegas, and there is a myriad of confusing and crazy scenes which do a good job in showcasing the effect the drugs are having on them. Some scenes were really funny, when Depp is trying to catch imaginary bats at the start of the film, for example. Other scenes I felt dragged on and got a bit boring.
I found the plot quite intriguing; I wanted to know more about these two 'drug abusers' throughout the film. There is a lot of mystery about it, how do these guys seem to have so much money? How is Depp a well known journalist?
Depp and Del Torro do a brilliant job acting. Depp especially brought a real wackiness to the role. In conclusion I thought this film was bizarre, not bad, but nothing particularly special.
The greatest book adaptation committed to screen. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's magnum opus of the same name. The film was written and directed by the American Python, Terry Gilliam. And what a great brain to be behind this film.
The book had been through several screen writers before but Thompson disliked all. Terry blew him away with his ideas and actually made a cameo himself in the piece.
The film follows Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) the narcotics agent, on their way to Las Vegas to chronicle a bike race. The trip also involves a hell of a lot of illegalities from car theft, to running out of restaurants, crashing parties and taking a mind bending amount of hallucinogens, uppers, downers, sidewinders and ether. Obviously this makes for some 'whacked out' scenes that Gilliam produces brilliantly. The madness never falls into the silly. It stays as a wonderful and scary representation of the hard-drug culture. Even the dinosaur moment in the hotel doesn't look ridiculous. Looks downright menacing.
The performances are exceptional - Depp plays an epic Hunter S. Thompson to astounding accuracy (Raoul Duke was an alias of Hunter) and Del Toro's bulking out to play the Samoan is unbelievable.
Buy the ticket and take the ride.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on the novella of the same name by Hunter S Thompson. Released in 1998, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Torro as Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo respectively.
The narrative of the film stays true to Thompson's novella and follows Duke and Gonzo on a drug fuelled frenzy in Las Vegas. Accompanied by a whole array of 'uppers, downers, screamers and laughers', the pair embark on a bender of epic proportions.
Duke is supposed to be in Vegas to cover the Mint 500 (a motor cross rally) but quickly realises that he has a far higher purpose in Vegas - the search for the American Dream.
Directed by Terry Gilliam (who also directed 12 Monkeys - check it out it is awesome!), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a real feast for the eyes. As the pair arrive in Vegas, both high on Acid, Duke spins out of control and finds himself in the lobby of the hotel surrounded by huge blood thirsty lizards (who are really the hotels patrons contorted in his mind). This scene is sumptuously composed by Gilliam and really echoes the creative brilliance of Thompson's original prose. As you can imagine, a film about drugs affords the director a huge amount of creative licence and Gilliam really lets loose here. The original novella was illustrated by Ralph Steadman and Gilliam seems to have replicated the grotesque nature of these illustrations in the film.
I won't go into too much detail of what happens in the film for fear of ruining the plot. Suffice it to say that as well as being a really creative and entertaining look at the world of drug culture, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is also a brilliant rumination on the death of the American Dream. Both Depp and Del Torro put in awesome performances in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Depp captures the mannerisms of Thompson in such exquisite detail, that it is quite simply breath taking (Depp's character 'Raoul Duke' is a thinly disguised lampoon of Thompson).
I can't recommend this film highly enough, it is a gripping and gritty film that gets better every time I watch it. It is well worth its 18 certificate and I would recommend it whole heartedly to adults everywhere.
Fear and Loathing began as a book by Hunter.S Tompson, and has been adapted into a brilliant film in 1998. This is one of those films i would not introduce my Father to, as it's jam packed full of drug abuse and bad language. On the other hand i rate it very highly in my personal DVD collection (which contains alot of films!).
Its Directed by Terry Gilliam and set in Las Vegas. The cast includes main characters Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp who in the film looks astonishingly alike to the Author) and Dr.Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) and has cameo apearences by Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci, Gary Busey and many others.
Journalist Raoul Duke is sent to Las Vegas on a business trip along with Dr.Gonzo, but before long they forget about the business and trip becomes the key word. The go armed with a case full of drugs and alcohol. They hire a convertable and begin their journey. Even something as mundane as a car journey turns into a drug frenzy and the film begins in a car when they have taken blotts of 'sunshine acid' and start seeing bats. "You can't stop here, this is bat country!".
The buz doesn't stop there, they arrive at the hotel and the carpet pattern is climbing the walls and the receptionist face is turning into a repulsive creature. The drug buzz lasts throughout the entire film when the take different kinds of drugs and drink alot. They realise they've hit rock bottom when they take Ether and a drug made out of human Adrenalin but that does not stop them.
The film (rated 18) contains many famous lines and funny comments. If the idea of drugs is a huge taboo for you then maye you should give this film a miss, other wise it's an entertaing film with strange creatures and colours!
After seeing this film i decided to go out and buy the book, which is just as great, if not, better!!
Its a story based on Hunter.S Thompsons life and if you enjoy the film i recommend the book to you.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas directed by Terry Gilliam and based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson. We follow the misadventures of the perpetually intoxicated Raul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his equally-intoxicated attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) during their stay in (you guessed it) Las Vegas.
While watching this I felt torn in two parts, one liked it, one didn't. The first felt deeply uncomfortable with the drug abuse masquerading as some sort of everyday pick-me-up when in reality they can totally f*ck up your life, and I speak as someone who has been unfortunate enough to witness that first hand. In one scene after a man in a suit walks in on him drugged up in a nightclub bathroom and he remarks that he's "getting incredible kicks from things he'll never know" in which is basically like one big "go on, try it, or you'll end up like this boring miserable tosspot over there".
Don't get me wrong, I don't get upset when I see someone shooting up heroin or taking LSD in films. Like violence or racism, it's not so much the act, just the way it's portrayed.
The other part of me, loved how anarchic and surreal it was. What it really reminded me of was the 80s TV series The Young Ones - which incidentally is absolutely brilliant in case you didn't know. Watching their hectic stream of their drug-fueled wanderings is actually rather entertaining.
Depp's acting is uncanny. Absolutely top class. Benicio as well. I truly
can't fault them in that respect. They are both totally immersed in their characters and full credit to them.
I've heard complaints that the two characters are too dislikable and that, in turn, makes the movie unwatchable - which is fair enough, I thought. One thing's for sure they certainly aren't likable, even if perhaps Thompson had intended them to be. I took up a very neutral position towards the pair myself, it reminded me of being back in high school when watching the class "rebel" argue with the teacher. You don't like the guy, you don't dislike the guy but you find his antics absolutely enthralling.
Thompson himself said that without Depp's narration keeping the story in
tow then the film would be nothing more than "just been a series of wild scenes."and he's right. The "plot" if you can all it that, runs more like a series
of very short stories loosely tied together by the narration. I'm glad it's
like that though, that way it feels less contrived and instead more like a genuine journey that someone had been on.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a drug fuelled road movie, based on the book of the same name, about a journalist who gets side-tracked from his assignment partly due to, among other things, the contents of his suitcase which includes"...two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers.....also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls.
This is a film that really does capture a lot of the energy and madness of the book. Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro almost perfectly embody the insanity of Hunter S Thompson and Oscar Acosta's experiences in Las Vegas in the 70's. Johnny Depp spent weeks living with Thompson and it shows in his mannerisms, facial gestures and general dope fiend attitude. If you're a fan of Hunter S Thompson you've probably already seen this and if you're not you should watch it anyway.
I understand that when the film first came out, people started to get up and leave the cinema after the first 10-15 minutes. Only a couple of people remained seated, who had a clue what Benicio del Toro was chasing non-existent bats in the middle of the desert for, what was happening with the moving pattern of the hotel carpet and why poor Johnny Depp was so extremely frightened to death in the middle of the most average situations.
The film is based on the novel that tells the story of those trips that writer Hunter S. Thompson and his attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta took to Las Vegas, Nevada, in the spring of 1971 to explore the theme of the American Dream, while Thomson was supposed to write articles for Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated magazines.
In the film, journalist Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) drives to Las Vegas to report on the Mint 400 motorcycle race, and then on the National District Attorneys Association's Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
The trip soon becomes a surreal nightmare as they abandon their work and start experimenting with various drugs such as cocaine, LSD, mescaline, cannabis, even ether and adrenochrome, while mulling on the droop of American culture.
note: also appears in part on The Student Room
Fear and Loathing is one of those real cinematic curiosities, and audiences and critics remain sharply divided on it. What I've found consistent throughout my observations, though, is that it's very much a "student film", although at the same time, I think it's a film considerably overrated by students, who will marvel at its sharp visuals and acting, but forget that it's also got a ricketty narrative, which it hopes will be disguised by being "quirky" and weird.
The film is based on Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, and depicts the drug-addled, crazy outings of Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro). The role of Raoul Duke is said to be a fairly biographical account of segments of Thompson's own life, which is simply too extraordinary for words. The film's narrative is pretty scant, in that it's not much more than two men getting extremely high and chewing the scenery, although sadly there's so much scenery being chewed that I'm surprised there was any left to shoot the film on.
Although lacking much in the plot department, it does make up for it somewhat with some impressive direction by the always mesmersing director Terry Gilliam, who makes this a trippy, mind-bending outing that's watchable if you switch off your brain and just immerse yourself in the cerebral experience. Depp also delivers an impressive performance, and one that Thompson was initially convinced that nobody could pull off.
Terry Gilliam's usual visual flair is apparent here, although the film is otherwise rather hollow. Despite its one-note concept, it features agreeable performances and has its fair share of hilarity.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on a book by the same title, written by Hunter Thompson in the year of 1971. Hunter Thompson is now deceased but when he was alive he was one weird cookie and had a somewhat cult following. He was known as the self-styled King of Gonzo journalism, mad as a box of frogs, into guns and explosives, drugs, booze and never slept. He is also the author of the cult book, Hells Angels, which I was very fond of as a teenager.
The book and film tells the story of a journey that Thompson (Raoul Duke - his alter ego) took with a friend, lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta, ( Dr Gonzo) to cover a road race, the Mint 400, for Sports Illustrated.
The film begins where Duke and Dr Gonzo get into a red convertible, skip paying the hotel bill and drive off, fuelled with drugs and paranoia. Every day these guys use enormous amounts of every drug known to man as they encounter real and imagined characters on their surreal and hallucinogenic journey to Las Vegas. Basically its a road movie with a dark commentary. Or that's at least the idea.
The commentary/narrative is from the book and informs us that by 1971, the sixties had already come to an end. President Nixon was in the White House, the war in Vietnam was still going on, the Beatles had broken up and one of the worst earthquakes ever in American history had hit southern California. It seemed the spirit of free love and free drugs, once the fashionable jargon of a generation, were dead and buried.
Indeed, the seventies had already begun to undo everything its predecessor had fought so hard for. The spirit of peace and love was pronounced dead at a Rolling Stones concert just outside San Fransisco when a young black man was stabbed to death by Hells Angels, centre stage, to the tune of 'Sympathy for the Devil', and captured in the film, 'Gimme Shelter,' The peace, love and innocence of Woodstock was history.
Dead too were the rock icons of that time - Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. They all vanished within the space of a year, all attributed to drug overdoses. Sixties idealism had changed to cynicism, and the American Dream was swiftly becoming the American nightmare.
These themes which are narrated by Johnny Depp throughout the film are beautifully spoken, hysterical funny although it was written totally seriously. The words are sort of melancholic in the way they illustrate the death of the American Dream, the death of hope. By that time Martin Luther had been killed and John F and Robert Kennedy had also been shot. It was a weird time and this paranoia and melancholy comes across in the narrative. I really admire the narrative and I think Thompson was a great writer and at times very poetic.
The film, however, I think is a shambles and I was very disappointed when I watched it a few weeks ago. It has taken me so long to put together a review because it is a difficult film to review. There is basically no plot and if ever a film lost the plot it is this one. Terry Gilliam is the director and I am not impressed at all with his work on this film It is just a chaotic mess. It is a melange of failed outtakes from Monty Python. Okay, there are a couple of funny scenes and they are believable - like the swirls of the carpet coming alive and the planes on the TV screen suddenly jumping out and bombing the entire room. But all that nonsense where they are stood at the bar with tails growing out of their backsides is immature, just not funny and so unrealistic. People might say that is what you see when you are on an acid trip - well, yeah, that's true but it could be a bit more realistic. It is just so amateurish.
I think they did struggle to find a director initially and when you think that the book critically acclaimed for half a century, it had strangely not been touched by Hollywood probably because it is such a difficult film to bring to the screen. Just how do you translate page after page of drug lunacy, madness and paranoia?
British director, Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid and Nancy) was the director who got together the two leads, Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro but he didn't get on with Thompson and in the end he quit due to artistic differences. This is when Monty Python's Gilliam stepped in and made a disastrous movie, in my opinion.
Both lead actors are very good, I admit. I like Del Toro and in this film he is very convincing as Duke's loony assistant and he did make me laugh quite a lot.
As for Depp, he is good in this role. He actually really looks like Thompson and his mannerisms although a little exaggerated are brilliant. They should be because he lived with the guy for three months at a time and studied his every move. He managed to bond emotionally and physically with Thompson. He shaved his head on top and made his ears larger by wearing small devices to make them more pointed and stick out. He also copied Hunter's unique body language - the bobbing and weaving, like Liam Gallagher on a drunken night out, with his cigarette holder twitching like a TV aerial on a windy day. It was as if he was some sort of off crazy dancer who is in danger of tumbling off the stage.
Having said all that, I still thought he was too silly in the role and I know the film is meant to have a funny side to it but it was just too silly. This is meant to be a cult film - a drug nightmare. I didn't think there was anything nightmarish about it at all. You do see all the heinous stuff they digest and what they go through but the way Gilliam depicts this, is just nonsensical. The narrative and the film don't fit together and it is a great shame because I really love the narrative.
I see the rating is 5 stars but there's no way I can give it 5 stars. Two at the most. This DVD is in my Depp collection but it is one I probably won't watch again - far too silly!
Fear & Loathing is a series of vignettes, strung together loosely to form a whole which is only vaguely cohesive, and probably only comprehensible if you're drunk. I loved it. It spoke to me in ways I can't explain. The whole thing is an excercise in the ways various drugs destroy the brain, creating different and utterly bizarre realities for the user (memorably peopling a hotel bar with giant, blood drinking lizards...) Don't take that the wrong way: The altered states can be evil as well as good, and this is only an advert for drug abuse in the same way as Trainspotting...
The plot, as outlined above, is very simple. Taken from Hunter S. Thompson's book of the same name, and it's more or less a carbon copy adaption. It's the seventies, and gonzo journalist Thompson (Depp) has been hired to cover a desert motorbike race outside Las Vegas. His fat, equally twisted Samoan attorney (Del Toro) shoehorns his way into the trip, and they set off in search of the American Dream. With a trunkfull of every drug your parents ever took. The initial assignment descends into narcotic anarchy, however, and soon our man in Vegas is desperste to try and keep his grip on reality, never mind anything else...
We're passengers on a surreal, scary, hilarious ride through hipocrites, bigots, insane policemen and worse. A stream of conciousness narrative, by the time the film finishes we're left feeling, like Thompson, drained and exhausted by such a sustained episode of narcotic abuse. The people we encounter are grotesque charicatures, cartoons of themselves, and the ultimate conclusion seems to be that the only way to know yourself is to utterly detach from society. It's kinda scary, but the scariest part is that it... sort of makes sense.
Filled with priceless moments, this is less a movie and more an experience. There's black, black comedy at the expense of the absurdity of the Las Vegas lifestyle; The film is equal parts anti-drug and, surprisingly, comes off as almost anti-American in outlook. It's worth a look for this alone, as what Thompson has to say about the political and social elements of 'The American Dream' resonate even today: It's a crass, self serving deceit. The route to true happiness, it seems, is elusive. But it seems to involve taking a huge amount of chemicals.
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas is a supposedly true story written and detailed by the late American journalist, Hunter S. Thompson who recently committed suicide. I guess the story has been somewhat exaggerated though, for the purpose of both the book and the film. This started off as a book and for those of you that have read it, you will appreciate how difficult a story like this can be to be translated to the big screen.
The film basically follows Hunter and his eccentric attorney travelling to Las Vegas in order to cover a motorcycle dirt race for the magazine he's writing for, though there is a much more sinister motivation behind the story which I will not reveal here. Anyway, they have decided to fill the boot of their car with just about every recreational drug that you can think of to make their time more fun and interesting (ahem!).
Though the actual story doesn't progress much the film does become hugely amusing. Basically, this is one long drawn out crescendo of progressing into the heaviest most insane drug fuelled trip that one could ever imagine! Johnny Depps acting is to a tee as he mimics the wacky entertaining mannerisms of Thompson.
I would recommend this film more to people who have had first hand experience of drug use, especially hallucinogenics. You will be able to appreciate more how Terry Gilliam is trying to communicate the effects of the drugs. From alcohol to cocaine, from cocaine to mescaline and ether and from ether to adrenacrone (pure adrenaline from a real living persons adrenaline gland) these guys look for any way they can to get wasted!
The most entertaining part of the film for me was watching how each drug was affecting them and over time the state that they were getting themselves into was becoming more and more shocking and more and more entertaining. Just writing this I have just had an image of Johnny Depp wading through a hotel room full of what appears to be water, wearing big wellies, with a microphone strapped around his head and a tape recorder around his chest with a burning broken cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
This is one unique film which is sure to provide you with a very amusing insight to the world of hallucinogenic drugs. I guess the after effects of all this abuse could be the reason for Thompsons suicide!?
*Both the film in question & this review may contain references to drug uses that some readers may wish to shield their precious eyes from (because they might find them offensive, and not because the bats may hit you in the face!)
"No point in mentioning these bats, I thought. Poor bastard will see them soon enough."
Based on Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 two part series, "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas; A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream", which later, that same year was published as a book - the film is pretty true to the book, so here goes
Fear & Loathing follows gonzo* journalist Raoul Duke** & his attorney, Dr Gonzo***, on a trip to Las Vegas, the intention - to do a piece on the Mint 400 Desert Motorcycle race, and then later on a Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs convention, so off they set in the famous great red shark (Hunter S. Thompson's red Chevrolet Caprice convertible) - sounds all very simple so far, and a bit dull really, so let's spice it up!
Duke & Gonzo have got a suitcase with them, and not just any suitcase, but a suitcase filled with two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicoloured uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls.
The rest of the film follows Duke & Gonzo on their drug fuelled binge around Las Vegas, and that's about it!
*Gonzo Journalism - a name given to Thompson's unique style of writing, Thompson's writings tend to draw the reader into the situation, so that the reader feels as though they are experiencing the event as it happens. A lot of the time Gonzo journalism has a fantasy element to it, so nestled somewhere in amongst the fiction, some fact does occur.
**Raoul Duke - Thompson's pseudonym or (even) alter ego, a hedonistic, drug crazed individual, normally high on whatever drug is going, be it mariju-wacky or human adrenalin, oh and fuelled by an extremely low tolerance for the all American values.
***Dr Gonzo - based on Oscar Zeta Acosta, an LSD loving friend of Hunter's, he was an Attorney of law, an author & politician, it is said that he spent half is life fighting for the law and the other half running from the law. It is believed that Acosta died in 1974, much speculation surrounds his death, as his body was never found.
"Bazooko Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war. This was the Sixth Reich."
Ok, so I don't make the plot sound that great, but if you watch the film, or have seen the film, you will understand why it is so hard to describe what actually happens, as the plot is fairly thin. Don't let this put you off the film though, it has an awful lot going for it, the movie is purely and simply a brilliantly made visual version of the book.
Everything about this film is stunning, the acting is brilliant and the directing captures perfectly on film what Thompson had put down in words on paper - Gonzo filmmaking is a phrase that springs to mind!
"Once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can"
The acting is superb, Duke (or Thompson) is played by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, From Hell, Chocolat, Finding Neverland & many more) who launched his heart and soul into preparing for this film, and eerily became Thompson, I think that there needs to be a distinction between mimicking a person & becoming a person. Depp spent time with Thompson, studying his mannerisms and ploughing through all the paraphernalia that Thompson had collected relating to his road trip in '71. Depp even went to the extreme of wearing the clothes that Thompson wore on his trip (in the film replicas of Thompson's clothing are worn), getting Thompson to shave his head (to imitate Thompson's pattern-baldness) & borrowing Thompson's Chevrolet to drive around California to prepare for his role. Benicio del Toro (Sin City) put just as much of his heart and soul into preparation for his role as Dr Gonzo, he even gained 18kg to become the rotund man that was Acosta.
I don't normally talk about the directors/writers when reviewing films, but in this case I am going to make an exception. The screenplay & direction was from the mind of Terry Gilliam, animator (Monty Python stuff), writer (Tideland, Monty Python stuff), actor (more Monty Python stuff), Director (Brazil, Tideland, Twelve Monkeys, Monty Python) & producer (Monty Python stuff again). Don't let the fact that he has worked on a lot of Monty Python stuff put you off, this piece is nothing like the slapstick comedy that comes from Monty Python, this is gonzo filmmaking to the extreme. Gilliam is incredibly creative & resourceful, expertly using a variety of different film & techniques in the space of seconds. It is Gilliam's direction, along with skilful casting of Depp & Del Toro that make the film come to life and prevent it from being just a random sequence of strange images meshed together into 118 mins. A notable example of how Gilliam managed to create a drug induced scene is close to the beginning, Duke & Gonzo are driving through the desert in the red shark when Duke thinks he is being attached by bats, Gilliam zooms close in, onto his eye, reflected in the eye are a mass of bats flying towards the car, cut to next scene, Duke is wildly waving his arms around at the imaginary bats.
Notable cameo appearances:
Tobey Maguire (The Good German, Spiderman, Cider House Rules, Pleasantville), who plays a hitchhiker, Christina Ricci (Adams Family, 200 cigarettes, Buffalo 66), Cameron Diaz (Shrek, The Holiday, In Her Shoes), Michael Jeter (Green Mile) & Hunter S Thompson himself!
"As your attorney I advise you to rent a very fast car with no top. And you'll need the cocaine."
There are, I think, 3 category's of people out there, there are those that hate this film, there are those out there who will love this film and rave about it, simply because they are a lover of Hunter S Thompson's work, and the man himself & there are those out there that will take this film at face value and appreciate the production, acting & direction. I personally fall between the last two categories, I am intrigued by the man that is Hunter S Thompson and have a huge amount of respect for the strange character, but I only developed my love of the man because I watched this film. I had no idea that there was a real man behind this or what this really stood for, I watched this and enjoyed the way that the director had managed to make me feel as though I was there, watching the swirling lights and strange scenes, really I think I just enjoyed going on a drug crazed trip and tagging along with Duke & Gonzo!
There have been many attempts to actually make Fear & Loathing into a film, many actors had over the years been considered for the roles of Duke & Gonzo - Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Malkovich & John Cusack, who eventually went on to direct the theatrical version of the book. Along with many actors being considered, many directors were also considered (including Martin Scorsese & Oliver Stone). There was also an attempt at an animated version of the book by Ralph Bakshi, which was to be done in the style of Ralph Steadman (illustrator for Hunter's books and articles), but it never got off the ground, as one of Hunter's ex-girlfriends held the rights and refused to let him make the animated version.
"You better take care of me, Lord. If you don't you're gonna have me on your hands"
Hunter S. Thompson died in 2005, at the age of 65. He shot himself in the head, his son, daughter-in-law & grandson were in the room next door, they heard the gun shot, but assumed it was a book falling onto the floor - Hunter was on the phone to his wife at the time.
I don't think that anyone believes that his suicide was out of depression, some say it is because Hunter never wanted to get old. His close friend Ralph Steadman wrote "He told me [...] he would feel trapped if he didn't know that he could commit suicide at any moment."
Hunter S. Thomson's funeral service took place in Aspen on August 20, 2005. Hunter's ashes were fired out of a cannon, shaped to look like a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button, to the tune of Mr Tambourine Man, whilst red, white & green fireworks were launched. According to Hunters widow, Johnny Depp financed the funeral.
The plans for this cannon were initially drawn by Hunter & Ralph Steadman, these drawings originally featured as part of a BBC programme called Fear & Loathing in Gonzovision (available on the special release DVD 2003).