On the final weekend of his life, Hunter S. Thompson hosted his son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and protégé at his home, a farm in Colorado which he shared with his wife, Anita. Thompson, a phenomenally popular and talented writer in the 1970s was in his late sixties and life wasn’t so much fun anymore.
Drinking since he was a young teenager, Thompson was a career alcoholic—it was said that he hadn’t spent a sober day in over forty years. In addition to his alcohol use, over the course of his life he used speed, cocaine, hallucinogens, and other illegal drugs.
Hunter S. Thompson – His Final Hours chronicles the events of his last twenty-four hours. From this and other documentaries, it seems certain that his suicide that particular weekend had been planned. When one considers the many narcissistic aspects of his personality, it’s not surprising that he would surround himself with the people who loved him. Others are more kind and say that he wanted his family around him when his soul passed to wherever it is souls go.
The major interviewees for Hunter S. Thompson – His Final Hours were his first wife, Rolling Stone editors, his protégé/writing partner, and some friends who had known him for fifty years or more. A mental health professional also weighs in with his opinions.
Having fun was important to Thompson. His idea of fun included firearms, explosions, drugs, bourbon, noise, fire, breaking glass, and chaos. His first wife described life with him as being very difficult—it could be exciting, romantic and loving, but mostly it was hard.
The Rolling Stone editors had high praise for Thompson’s early writing, but it seems that, in his last twenty years or so, writing was just a job. The spark and creativity were no longer there. The man who had invented gonzo journalism was—after 1982—just gone.
Having sustained broken bones on several occasions, Thompson was left with chronic pain. The pain he suffered infringed on his fun. Freedom was paramount to him, and he saw his narrowing. In addition to heavy drinking, he was using painkillers. Thus, the man who was described as charismatic, popular, talented, impulsive, pained, insecure, anxious, tortured, and angry decided his time was up. He typed one word on his typewriter, “Counselor,” which to this day remains a mystery. On February 20, 2005, he fired his gun for the last time, taking his own life. He was 67 years old. His name had become much bigger than he was.
Hunter S. Thompson – His Final Hours also provides a look at what led up to that final shot, examining his past, and providing clues to what went into his self-destructive lifestyle. Was the death of his father when Thompson was a teenager what started his downward spiral? After his father’s death he began drinking and engaging in destructive behavior.
Were drugs and alcohol responsible for his declining writing ability? They surely played a role. I have seen five episodes of Final 24, a documentary series featuring some dramatization; Hunter S. Thompson is the least sympathetic subject of the five. No matter how brilliant Hunter S. Thompson – His Final Hours depicts him, we are still seeing a selfish man.
Hunter S. Thompson was a gifted writer, but as a human being he never made it past out-of-control adolescent. Hunter S. Thompson – His Final Hours details his successes and ultimate fate, and shows him to fall far short of the literary hero so many held in regard during his Fear and Loathing past.
Source: blogcritics.org – DVD Review: Hunter S. Thompson – His Final Hours