He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man
Well, that just about sums it up, sums it all up- the american hippy/pop movement, the drugs, the dope and Tim Leary’s feeble attempt to lead American counterculture into psychedelic drugs. The movie is awesome by the way. If you like me keep an interest for psychedelic music like Jefferson Airplane or rather for Grace Slick, you would totally love this movie. Or ofcourse you are already hooked on to LSD, you would have watched this anyway.
The movie is the journey of an eccentric and looney reporter Raoul Duke with his attorney Dr. Gonzo to discover the “American Dream”. What follows are a lot of drugs, lots of crazy and mind-numbing stuff with some great music. The effects of various hallucinogenic drugs on the human body are duly observed along with the psychedelic effect on the mind. The movie is a journey into the American counter-culture of the 1960s. Counter-culture represented the free American dream, with the use of mind-expansion drugs like LSD to reach a so-called higher level of spiritual development. What started from San Fransisco spread throughout the USA, the chief proponent of the movement being Tim Leary. The movie is the journey of two men to find and be a part of this wave, this wave of freedom and ecstasy where one can lose himself in pure pleasure and forget the troubles of the real world.
One of my favorite excerpts from the movie :
“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run …but 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. Whatever it meant … History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket …booming through theTreasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) … but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that …
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda …. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning …. And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave ….
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark —that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
The movie portrays the helplessness of a crippled generation, promised the land of fullness and purity but finding only the barren desert. A generation crippled with the beliefs of a non-existent movement, a movement over before its time, leaving helpless cripples in its wake. A generation of people rudely woken up to the harsh realities of life from a deep and sound dream. The protagonist and his attorney dont wish to be a part of the American dream, they wish to be lost in it.
The movie is brilliant and i am dying to read the book. Johnny Depp is awesome, his style of smoking and his half nerdy Jack sparrowish way of typing is brilliant. Something must be said about Dr. Gonzo ofcourse. “A man too crazy to live but too rare too die”. The guy has inspired a whole new breed of free and subjective journalism, Gonzo Journalism. With his wild halo of hair and crazy antics he is the perfect poster boy for the movie. He is the dude man. To end i’ll quote my fav passage of the movie-
“We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60’s. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously… All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force – is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.”
PS: I just wish i was part of the 60s wave. What i woudnt give for it.