“Fear and Loathing” is still worth seeing

“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is one of those movies that lives and breathes within the hearts of American culture, though some hate to admit it.

Released in 1998, “Fear and Loathing” is a rare treat of unexplainable truth and ideas, while being a legendary tale of discovery and critique on the downfall of the American way of life.

The novel, by Hunter S. Thompson, is the blueprint for Terry Gilliam’s contemporary masterpiece, where we meet our modern day hero, journalist Raoul Duke (based on Thompson and played with perfection by Johnny Depp) on his way to Las Vegas to cover a drag race with his attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro).

Not only are they on a trip to cover this race, this entire trip to Las Vegas is, indeed, a “trip.”

Raoul and Gonzo have a massive amount of heavy narcotics in their trunk and are about to embark on this journey to Las Vegas…high. But, while they are on this “trip” or exploration, whatever you may call it,, Raoul learns about the world that is surrounding him, a world that is focusing on the decay of the contemporary man, ideals and values. His journey to cover a motorcycle race has turned into more than just a journey to cover some meaningless sports event, but a journey to find himself and look for America.

This is one of the few important Hollywood films that has been released in the last decade. Yes, the story might be outdated since Thompson published pieces of his book in Rolling Stone in the 1970s and it focuses on the decay of contemporary society, but it does speak volumes currently with issues surrounding our own world.

It is not a drug film, even though there are massive amounts of contraband in the film, but rather a metaphor for our own society, through the eyes of the last great American voice.

“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” has recently been released on DVD as part of The Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection is a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films. This DVD edition includes numerous extras that span over two discs.

The film is presented in its original 2:35:1 Aspect Ratio, offering an impeccable digital transfer. The film includes three audio commentaries. The first, an enlightening screen-specific commentary by the filmmaker Gilliam, invites us to see the pain-staking process he went through in making the film.

The second commentary features Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro discussing the process of playing these two men. The third commentary is with Thompson, a wonderful treat, and allows us to see what the man thinks about the movie that is based on him.

Other features include promotional spots, featurettes, storyboards and production designs, as well as a booklet featuring essays by Thompson.

“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is a special film not to be taken at face value for what you might think it is about. It is an exploration of culture and society through the eyes of a man you will want to be after you see this film.