Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
Hunter S. Thompson in 'Gonzo: The Life & Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.'
I can think of few subjects for a documentary richer than the legendary Hunter S. Thompson. Journalist. Drug enthusiast. Candidate for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado. Those things come as little or no surprise. But to me, a casual consumer of his work (I read Fear and Loathing, and I'm familiar with the iconic depictions of his world drawn by his friend and collaborator, Ralph Steadman), Alex Gibney's new documentary Gonzo: The Life & Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson filled in the blanks with feeling and nuance. My favorite segment of the film reveals Thompson's Carter awakening — apparently, Thompson attended a speech given by Jimmy Carter at the University of Georgia Law School in May of 1974. He had no interest in Carter, and repeatedly slipped out to refill his glass of iced tea (read: Wild Turkey) instead of watching the event. And then Carter credited Bob Dylan with changing his understanding about the balance of power between the landowner and those who work on the farm (and thus, the rich and powerful who make the rules, and everyone else), and Thompson was transfixed. He later wrote about the speech, "by the time it was over, it had rung every bell in the room." It's a beautiful sequence. If you'd like, leave your favorite Thompson quotes here.