|Terry Gilliam Director||previously directed Twelve Monkeys|
Johnny Depp is fictional journalist Raoul Duke (a thin veil for real journalist Hunter S. Thompson) in this semi-autobiographical, drug fueled exploration of the American dream set in a 1970's trip to Las Vegas, where Raoul Duke is supposed to cover a motorcycle race.
Duke's tribute to Dr. Gonzo - "There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high-powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die" - is taken from the foreword of "Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo," the semi-autobiographical novel written by 'Oscar Zeta Acosta'. Zeta Acosta was the famous "Chicano lawyer" and friend of Hunter S. Thompson whose notorious party binges served as the model for Dr. Gonzo. Thompson changed Zeta Acosta's ethnic identity to "Samoan" to deflect suspicion from Zeta Acosta, who was in some trouble with militant Chicanos in L.A. at the time the book was written.4 More Trivia
42 More Quotes
We can't stop here. This is bat country.
|Hunter S. Thompson|
|Johnny Depp||Raoul Duke|
|Benicio Del Toro||Dr Gonzo|
|Ellen Barkin||Waitress at North Star Cafe|
|Gary Busey||Highway Patrolman|
|Mark Harmon||Magazine Reporter at Mint 400|
|Cameron Diaz||Blonde TV Reporter|
|Katherine Helmond||Desk Clerk at Mint Hotel|
|Michael Jeter||L. Ron Bumquist|
|See Full Credits|
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas begins with a quick montage of actual footage from the Vietnam War. When the main titles bleed out, Raoul Duke ( Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo ( Benicio Del Toro) streak across the desert in their red convertible. Duke explains in narration that the drugs have already kicked in and he begins to see huge bats in the sky. No longer feeling he can drive he pulls over and makes Gonzo finish the journey.
On the side of the road a Hitchhiker ( Tobey Maguire)sticks his thumb out catching Gonzo’s eye. He pulls over regardless of Duke’s warnings that they are currently in bat country. Once in the car Duke becomes concerned that the Hitchhiker might realize that they are high and will turn them over to the police. When Duke begins to tell his story he accidently slaps Gonzo on the back of the neck making him swerve the car scaring the already frightened Hitchhiker. Duke ignores the incident and begins the tale.
A day ago Duke and Gonzo where at the Beverly Heights Hotel. Duke was waiting for a call what would instruct him to go to Vegas and cover the Mint 400 desert race. Gonzo advises a trip to Vegas and says that they will need supplies such as cocaine, a fast car and a tape recorder. Duke takes his attorneys advice and begins corralling the supplies. Before the trip they visit the beach and trip on Mescaline.
Back in the car the Hitchhiker looks more frightened then ever when Gonzo starts freaking out and asking for medicine. When he pulls the car over Duke gives him more drugs and takes some himself. After Gonzo pulls out a gun the Hitchhiker grabs his luggage and begins running down the highway. Duke shrugs his shoulders and takes the driver seat.
Before they got to the Hotel Gonzo gives Duke some acid just in time so that he would start hallucinating as they entered the Vegas hotel. Gonzo navigates Duke through the check in desk and leaves him at a bar. When Duke starts seeing massive lizards having sex and bathing in blood Gonzo drags him to their hotel room.
In the room Duke continues tripping on the images of Vietnam on the television screen. As the bellboy drops off their massive amounts of food the photographer ( Mark Harmon) that is suppose to assist Duke arrives to introduce himself. However Duke is in no shape to understand who the photographer is and hides from the man.
The next day the acid wears off and Duke makes his way to the Mint 400 early in the morning. He watches the start of the race but doesn’t bother with the rest since the motorcycles kick up to much dust to be able to tell what is going on. As Duke attempts to leave the Photographer tells him to get in the buggy so they can cover the race on the track itself. After a few minutes on the buggy Duke gives up and leaves the Photographer.
That night Duke and Gonzo take the town by storm. Their first stop is a Debbie Reynolds concert of which they are immiedately thrown out of. After that they ingest some ether before entering Bazooko Circus Casino. Inside the circus motif becomes too heavy for the two of them and they decide to return to the room.
Back in the room Gonzo sinks deeper and starts raving about how the Photographer is banging his girlfriend. Duke puts two and two together and realizes that he is talking about the girl ( Cameron Diaz) they had met in the elevator earlier that day. She thought Gonzo was a rider in the Mint 400, but when the cameraman calls bullshit things get out of hand. Gonzo pulls out a knife and starts threatening the cameraman and photographer. Duke and Gonzo run back to their room where Gonzo claims that he and the girl are in love.
As Gonzo descends he becomes more violent and Duke quickly realized that he should leave while Gonzo still has control over the large knife he is wielding. Down stairs Duke wanders the casino floor and ponders on the mindsets of the people that gamble at this time of day. Duke returns to the room only to find it completely trashed and Gonzo in the tub trying to commit suicide. He asks Duke to drop the electric tape player into the tub as the climax of White Rabbit hits. Duke at first refuses but then agrees when his friend begins to throw a fit. At the very moment he is suppose to drop the player Duke hits Gonzo with a grapefruit and runs out of the bathroom. Gonzo chases him but is convinced to wait out the drugs as Duke tries to get some sleep.
Alone in the room Duke recalls San Fransisco back in 1965 at the height of the drug craze. High on LSD Duke sees himself ( Hunter S. Thompson) in the crowd and makes his way to the bathroom. There he spills some LSD on his sleeve but is helped out by a fellow patron who licks the LSD off. Amidst this a man in a suit walks in on them and falls into complete shock at the sight. Back in Vegas Duke begins to write his story curious on how the momentum of the Peace Generation had come to a complete stop.
The next day Duke wakes up to find the room trashed even more than before and Gonzo long gone. With a huge room service bill Duke ditches the hotel and ponders on what he is going to do about his story on the race. He didn’t even know who had won.
Speeding through the desert Duke tries to make it to LA before the police catch up to him, but it’s too late. After giving the highway patrolman ( Gary Busey) a bit of a chase Duke turns himself in. The patrolman tells Duke that he should go to a rest stop and sleep and not Barstow where Duke originally was heading. Afraid of being caught Duke heads to the rest stop only to come face to face with the Hitchhiker as he turns the corner. Duke makes a b-line in the other direction and finds a pay phone. On the phone Gonzo, back at his office, tells Duke that he had sent Duke a telegraph saying that he had booked a room at the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas so that Duke could cover the District Attorneys conference. Unable to go to LA in fear that the police would catch him Duke heads back to Vegas.
At the Flamingo Gonzo has met Lucy, a Christian girl that paints portraits of Barbara Streisand. He has been giving her acid and keeping her in the hotel room. Duke tells him that the moment that she sobers up she could have them both sent to prison. Gonzo agrees that they should dump her at a nearby wedding chapel.
The two of them attend the conference who’s keynote speaker ( Michael Jeter) is giving information about drug addicts. Gonzo refuses to continue to listen to the horrible misinformed speaker and leaves as Duke waits it out only to be repulsed by the old couple making out behind him.
Back in the room Duke checks his messages only to find out that Lucy had called the hotel. He demands that Gonzo deal with the situation before they’re both sent to prison. As Gonzo calls Lucy he tells Duke to take some Adrenachrome to settle down. Faking a kidnapping over the phone Gonzo considers the Lucy problem solved as Duke begins to trip hard on the fictional drug.
Duke wakes up several days later to find the room destroyed beyond recognition and the floor in a foot of water. With a tape recorder wrapped around his chest he begins to play back the tape to figure out what had happened. During the high Gonzo and Duke had down everything from assaulting a maid to breaking coconuts on the car to possible setting a casino on fire.
During one of their slower periods they had hunkered down in a small café devoid of people accept for a single waitress. Gonzo slipped her a napkin that said “Back Door Beauty?” Insulted the waitress demands that the two of them leave the diner immediately. When Gonzo pulls a knife she goes quiet. He buys a Lemon Pie while holding her at knife point and leaves. Duke begins to follow taking his plate with him, however he feels sorry for the waitress and leaves the plate behind.
The next day Duke drives frantically to get Gonzo to his plane on time. They almost run into Lucy and are forced to race across the open desert. Gonzo makes the flight as Duke returns to another hotel.
There he tells the audience that the American Dream may be completely out of sight and it’s our fault for losing it. As Duke makes his way back to LA he confides that there may still some hope that all is not lost.
Throughout the film the presence of the Vietnam War is similar to the way the public actually perceived it. Radios and TV constantly broadcast the horror’s and causalities of the brutal fighting. The characters in the film can’t turn on a TV without the constant barrage of images leaving them with no option but to turn it off.
Early in the film Gonzo turns the station to avoid news about Vietnam. Later Duke, on acid, literally experiences the battles in his own room and is intrigued and revolted by the images at the same time.
Quite similar to the actual adventures of Hunter S. Thompson and his attorney Oscar Acosta who went out to find the American Dream. This quest is randomly touched upon in the film but is more of what the characters are looking for within themselves.
With the failure of the 60’s America seemed to be doomed according to Duke. The world had been taken over by men who wanted nothing but power. America was no longer the land of the free but of those who pretended to be free. With the American flag consistently making an appearance in the film it represents the American Dream, a symbol that has lost its meaning.
Fear and Loathing has received surprisingly negative reviews. It has become nearly the very definition of 'love it or hate it.' The main complaint is that the film becomes repetitive and the characters have no arc too which the audiences can attach themselves too. On the other hand those that love it find it as a wondrous dark comedy that touches on the disillusionments of the American people.
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