We can’t stay here, this is bat country.
Imagine a story designed around the concept of recovering from a drug trip, except in the form of a metaphor that serves as an allegory for a transitional period in American history. This is basically the concept behind Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Well, that and Hawaiian shirts.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas started life as a book written back in 1971, at the end of the drug-induced craziness of the Sixties and the start of the decade spent sobering up known as the Seventies, in order to prepare for the crazy hair styles and yoga pants of the Eighties.
As for the movie, it came out in 1998, and is incredibly, perhaps even incredulously given the source material, faithful to the book. The start is innocuous enough; a journalist and his lawyer head out into the deserts of the American West to grab a story, and along the way they do drugs.
A lot of drugs.
That’s right, folks, the entire movie is basically a drug trip. A drug road trip, as it were. Combining the best of both worlds, the end result creates a surreal hodgepodge that defies description.
One does not watch this film. One experiences this film. There is no other way to describe what watching this movie is like, other than as an experience. A trip, if you will.
Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week. Seriously folks, explaining Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is like trying to explain the Halo lore to a Call of Duty player. One must experience the film to appreciate it, even if they might not understand, or even necessarily like, what it was they just saw.
Perhaps unsurprisingly as a result, the film did not do well when first released. Marketing such a film as this proved a tricky proposition. Given time, however, the cult status of the movie grew, and now it is very much a case of love it or hate it. The only way to be sure for yourself is to watch it and join along for the ride. Drugs are of course optional on the viewer’s part.
The film is deliberately deep and nonsensical. As it is based on a book written to encapsulate a specific turning point in American history, the movie reproduces that effect beautifully. The film has much to say about the shift from the Sixties to the Seventies, of American and the West, and it does it all in a barely coherent stream of thoughts, words, and actions.
There’s a lot you can say about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but to truly understand it might be beyond our scope. The depth of the movie is punctuated by its seeming lack of coherence. The detail and nuance of the film run so deep to the core of the movie that they are as much a part of its theme as the actual themes themselves. That is why it must be experienced rather than merely watched.