The Written Image: Gonzo

By the time he committed suicide on February 20, 2005, Hunter S. Thompson had already been the subject of at least three documentary films, including the thirty-minute, low-budget Hunter S. Thompson: The Crazy Never Die, the premiere of which preceded the author's death by seventeen years. (The film—produced by the late Mitchell brothers, Artie and Jim, who owned a notorious strip club in San Francisco and also produced

adult films—can be found on Google Video.) Since Thompson's death, five additional documentaries of varying degrees of quality have been released. But what is arguably the biggest and smartest documentary yet is coming to theaters this month. The images above are stills from Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson, written and directed by Alex Gibney, whose directorial credits include Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Taxi to the Dark Side, winner of the 2007 Academy Award for documentary feature. Gonzo, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, features rare home videos and film clips, along with interviews with Johnny Depp, Pat Buchanan, Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Buffett, George McGovern, Ralph Steadman, and others. Together, they tell the tumultuous story of the writer whom David Plotz, in a review for Slate in 1988, described as "not smart or funny or brave or even original" and whom Tom Wolfe, in an obituary in the Wall Street Journal, called the twentieth century's "greatest American comic writer in the English language."


Mr. Gonzo

Excuse me, but is there a better nominee for most overrated author of the 20th century than Hunter Thompson? His style was irresistible, his narrative boils down to aimless blithering.