Midnight Movie Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

Fri 1 April 2005 // 00:00

(Terry Gilliam / 1998 / USA / 118 mins / Cert 18)
(Fri 1st / midnite / £4/3)

On the 21st February this year one of the lights of the 20th century went out, as the living legend known as Hunter S Thompson stopped living. As well known for his outrageous lifestyle as he was for his revolutionary approach to journalism, the two were never so closely linked in the name of literature as in his groundbreaking 1971 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. A self-mythologising collision between his ego and the laceration of the American Dream, the book led to the development of Gonzo journalism, a school of writing that highlighted the relationship of the
writer to their subject, and inadvertently spawned a generation of lads magazines.

More than a mere adaptation, Gilliam's film is a challenging look at how Thompson's book chose to portray the death of the 60s dream, the intersection of life and fiction, and how the central character of Raoul Duke (a thinly disguised alter-ego for Thompson himself, played with the usual brilliance by Johnny Depp) deals with his demons and uses them against the society he fears and loathes with such vitriol. As much a landmark film as a landmark book, it is a genius slice of postmodern invention, and a more than fitting tribute to the great man.