FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
About The Production
At once a brilliantly idiosyncratic commentary on what Hunter
S. Thompson referred to as "The Foul Year of Our Lord, 1971"
and a decidedly exaggerated account of a personal odyssey careening
between the hilarious and the horrifying, Fear and Loathing
in Las Vegas has today become required reading on many college
campuses. Gonzo journalism is landmark literature, an aberration
of the "New Journalism" of the '60s.
It hit stands on October 10, 1971 on the cover of the fourth anniversary
issue of Rolling Stone (#95), which introduced to readers not
only the inspired works of Hunter S. Thompson, but the demented
illustrations of Ralph Steadman. After the second part of the
series appeared the following month in RS96, Fear and Loathing
in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American
Dream became the premiere offering of Jann Wenner's Straight
Arrow Books, jolting critics to acclaim. A series of Thompson/Steadman
adventures went on to capture pivotal moments throughout the '70s
(the Presidential campaigns, the Super Bowl), and "Fear and
Loathing..." entered the American vernacular, a brandname
like Kleenex or Draino.
The fact that the book remained unfilmed for more than 25 years
is a testament to its singularity and perhaps to the notion that
it was waiting for the right filmmaker. And so, when Terry Gilliam
made himself available to apply his unique talents to the material,
it was a perfect marriage: a work by one of America's most visionary
writers, brought to the big screen by one of film's most visionary
directors, mostly set and partially shot in one of the world's
most peculiarly visionary cities.
Most of Gilliam's previous films, including Brazil, The Adventures
of Baron Munchausen, The Fisher King and 12 Monkeys (not
to mention the entire Monty Python series and motion pictures
there of) indicate a belief that madness is ultimately the
only way in which otherwise sensitive and perceptive human beings
can deal with the insanity of the world. Beyond these thematic
concerns, Gilliam's abilities to create the impossible on film
with his extraordinary visuals and surefooted dramaturgy
demonstrated throughout his career as a ground-breaking director,
writer and animator) are an appropriate match for the evershifting
"realities" of Thompson's book, in which the utterly
surreal becomes almost commonplace.
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