Hunter S. Thompson/Director Alex Gibney on the set of GONZO: THE LIFE & WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Directed by Alex Gibney
Magnolia Pictures

Narrated by Johnny Depp

“Gonzo” is the definitive film biography of a mythic American figure, a man that Tom Wolfe called our “greatest comic writer,” whose suicide, by gunshot, led Rolling Stone Magazine, where Thompson began his career, to devote an entire issue (its best-selling ever) to the man that launched a thousand sips of bourbon, endless snorts of cocaine and a brash, irreverent, fearless style of journalism – named “gonzo” after an anarchic blues riff by James Booker.

GONZO is directed by Alex Gibney, the Academy Award nominated director of Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room and the director of the Academy Award winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side. While Gibney shaped the screen story, every narrated word in the film springs from the typewriters of Thompson himself. Those words are given life by Johnny Depp, the actor who once shadowed Thompson’s every move for the screen version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and who bankrolled Thompson’s spectacular funeral (photographed for this film) in which the good doctor’s ashes were fired from a rocket launcher mounted with a towering two-thumbed fist whose palm held a giant peyote button.

This two-year effort was produced by an extraordinary team, including Gibney; Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair; the indie producing team of Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente; Eva Orner and Alison Ellwood. Ellwood, an extraordinarily creative editor, was also Gibney’s collaborator on Enron. The film’s Director of Photography was Maryse Alberti.

The film is distinguished by its unprecedented cooperation of Thompson’s friends, family and estate. The filmmakers had access to hundreds of photographs and over 200 hours of audiotapes, home movies and documentary footage of the man. In addition, the estate granted unusual access to the work itself, allowing the film to quote from unpublished manuscripts, as well as the many letters, books and articles that Thompson produced. Ralph Steadman – the visionary artist whose ink-splattered drawings and paintings created a subversively iconic visual landscape for Thompson’s words – also granted the filmmakers access to previously unpublished artworks and Polaroid’s.

(2 Cents Worth: Looking forward to Mr. Gibneys’ take on the Doctor, but why in name of Christ did Johnny have to stick his nose in this one as well. Between his portrayal and the off-coloured babble that spews forth during his apparently “authorized” views during “Buy The Take Take The Ride” (Starz) documentary, he is now at the helm of this project. Depp was not the only person Hunter let close to him near the end thus his opinion is one of many . Many that have yet to be heard. By the way how the fuck did a Vanity Fair editor get involved in this ? – Ed.)

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