As he remarks in the film, 'Sometimes I don't know who to be, whether to be Duke or Hunter.'<0x2009>"
Duality also manifested itself in Thompson's private personality, which Gibney was surprised to discover as being "almost bipolar."
"Hunter's mood swings kind of represented his ability to see the kind of schisms or splits in the American character," he said. "I knew he was always a very perceptive writer about the American character, but I think maybe he was so perceptive because he more than a lot of people is like America. Sort of the best and the worst. I didn't really understand till I started the film just how many-sided he was."
Visually dynamic and entertaining for Thompson devotees as well as those who only know him from Depp's portrayal in Fear and Loathing, Gonzo is nonetheless tinged with the melancholy that eventually tempered Thompson's considerable lust for life. Blame health problems, professional frustrations, the re-election of George W. Bush, or more existential concerns Thompson's quest for the American Dream, documented in Fear and Loathing and elsewhere, was never really satisfied. Instead, Gibney speculated, "I think he ended up finding how elusive it is, and how much-desired it is but how rare it is to ever find it. And that's what he found in Vegas, I think: what a perfect vehicle for the death of the American dream, this place where you go hoping to fulfill that rags to riches dream, yet in some fundamental way knowing that the house always wins."
GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON
Opens Fri/4 in Bay Area theaters