SHORT DOCUMENTARY | 13 MIN | 2016
“In 1970, writer Hunter S. Thompson and illustrator Ralph Steadman covered the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan’s Monthly. The resulting article, ‘The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,’ marked the beginnings of gonzo journalism. Gonzo @ the Derby looks at the article and the lasting impact on media and sports journalism.”
The film begins with Oscar winner Sean Penn reading from the article in Scanlan’s , as the action he vocalizes is inter spliced with animation in a style “similar-but-nowhere-near-as-good-as” Ralph Steadman’s classic Gonzo illustrations, cutting back to him reading from vintage tome, and relaying stories of his attending of the Kentucky Derby, meeting artist Ralph Steadman for the first time, and the invention of Gonzo journalism.
This documentary has all the living main players, including Steadman, shot in his studio in Kent, England, recounting first hand the events as they played out. Douglas Brinkley, Hunter S. Thompson’s Literary Executor, John Walsh, former managing editor of Rolling Stone, and Warren Hinckle, Editor of Scanlan’s Monthly.
It’s a captivating narrative, which I think I have pieced together over the years, but seeing it spelled out with 2d animation and first hand play-by-play of the events really was an enjoyable watch.
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