'Gonzo' gets under the surface of Hunter S. Thompson

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a mesmerizing look at the mythic quality and anarchic spirit of the irreverent and rabble-rousing journalist.


Larger than life, higher than life, Thompson collected people and drew such disparate admirers as Jimmy Carter and Pat Buchanan. Director Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) probes how Thompson's persona nearly eclipsed the real man, a highly talented writer and a deeply tortured soul who lived on the edge before that notion became a cliche and shot himself in 2005 at the age of 67.


Gonzo is not just a fascinating portrait of an enigmatic and charismatic figure, but a serious examination of the social and political milieu in which he flourished. Thompson wrote compelling articles in the early days of Rolling Stone that brought an original, candid voice and subversive edge to political journalism. The film also explores a time in the late '60s through the mid-'70s when individual journalists had the power to effect political and social change.


From interviews with Thompson's first wife, his widow and his son Juan, we get a view of the troubled man. From such politicians as George McGovern and Gary Hart, we get a look at Thompson's place in socio-political history. His work was often a hybrid of clear-eyed reporting and flights of fantasy.


"We were all amused by him," says McGovern. "Nobody was writing like that."

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