Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, is a 2008 Gonzo Journalism documentary biography of Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American Journalist who was born in Louisville Kentucky and has been credited as the originator of Gonzo since the name was coined after the publication in 1970 of The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved which turned him into a counter culture icon.
What is a Gonzo Journalist?
More traditional forms of journalism would involve simply observing the events without getting involved with the centrepiece of the unfolding story. Gonzo is essentially a new-wave experimental form of reporting where by the journalist becomes so intertwined with the story that he/she actually becomes a central part of it. This allows an angle of such accuracy that concerns the reporting of personal experiences and emotions, in parallel-opposition to traditional journalism, which favours a detached style and relies on facts or quotations that can be verified by third parties and never really give a person strive for the matter.
Of course like many forms of journalism it is dangerous, especially in this case as putting yourself into situations in such a manner could leave you as the enemy of both parties. Thompson has been quoted saying: "If I'd written the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people—including me—would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.” This was from an article in the famous Rolling Stone magazine from early 1973.
Hunter S. Thompson was born to a middle class family but had a rather self-induced turbulent life some might say as we see in this Gonzo documentary. He did not finish high school since he was thrown in jail for robbery and subsequently joined the United States air force, after leaving he began working on what he is renowned for today.
Thompson remains most famous for his novel “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream” (1971) which is about a roman à clef, rooted in autobiographical incidents as the characters chase the American Dream through a drug-induced haze. This was made into a film in 1998 with a shortened title “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” which starred Hollywood actor Johnny Depp.
Thompson committed suicide at the age of 67 after suffering with a number of health problems for years.