The story begins abruptly, as we find our mock heroes out in the desert en route to the
savvy resort of Las Vegas. The author uses a tense hitchhiker as a mode, or an excuse, for
a flashback that exposes the plot. An uncertain character picked up in the middle of the
desert who Raoul Duke, the main character, feels the need to explain things to, to help
him rest easy. They had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets
of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of
multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers....Also a quart of tequila, a quart of
rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw either, and two dozen amyls. They were on
assignment from a fashionable sporting magazine in New York, to cover the 4th Annual "Mint
400" dirt bike and dune buggy race. A savage journey to the heart of the American dream.
Before one can review the motion picture "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", he must first
research the full length novel of the same name. The book first appeared in 1971 in issues
95 and 96 of Rolling Stone magazine, published November 11th and 25th respectively.
Although the two part series stated its author was someone called Raoul Duke, the story
was copyrighted in 1971 by Hunter S. Thompson. Raoul Duke is actually the false name under
which Hunter Thompson portrays himself as main character and narrator.
The film was produced in the early goings of summer in 1998 almost as a tribute to the
re-release of the novel in June. Directed by Monty Python's Flying Circus animator Terry
Gilliam [12 Monkeys], the film was received quite poorly in the box office and even by the
counterculture which was its target audience. Not even an impressive list of cameo
appearances could salvage box office respect. This list featured Cameron Diaz, Cristina
Ricci, Gary Busey, Lyle Lovett, Verne Troyer ["Minime" from Austin Powers], Penn Jillette
[of Penn and Teller], Michael Jeter, and Flea [Red Hot Chilli Peppers]. Contrary to other
book-to-screen translations such as Jurassic Park, where the entire plot line was
compromised, the film of Fear and Loathing does the book justice and, occasionally, reads
straight from the novel itself. Starring Johnny Depp [as Duke] and Benico Del Toro [Dr.
Gonzo, Duke's attorney and confidant], the film has to be the best account of what the
early seventies in the western United States were like despite Thompson's own denouncement
saying "no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of
knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world".
The story is split into two parts: covering the Mint 400 in part one, and the National
District Attorneys' Conference in part two. The action maintains a fairly constant pace
throughout the account, disregarding select high intensity scenes at hotels and diners.