88 • FILM
RETELLING THE BATTLE OF ASPEN New film traces Hunter S. Thompson’s bid for county sheriff By D. Dion
ny film made about legendary journalist Hunter S. Thompson is sure to have some success, whether it’s a box-office hit or relegated to the cult classics queue in Netflix to be streamed by his tribe of devotees. Several films have already been made about the literary figure, but Freak Power, set to film in Colorado this summer and fall, is a more nuanced account of Thompson’s brief stint in local Aspen politics.
Bobby Kennedy III, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and Freak Power writer and filmmaker, knew Hunter S. Thompson as a child. He laughs as he recounts how much the writer loved to entertain and rattle people. One time, Thompson kicked over a couch in his living room and had the kids shoot at aluminum targets from behind it and try to avoid explosives he had attached to the wall. Kennedy says he was weeping, praying that they wouldn’t miss. “He scared the hell out of me a couple of times. He loved to push our buttons.” As an adult, Kennedy became interested in Thompson’s canon and says he went through a “Hunter phase” like many young adults and read all his books. Thompson started the literary genre called Gonzo jourwww.TellurideMagazine.com
nalism, where the narrator/reporter becomes a part of the story. Thompson embraced this style of reportage and created his own fictional alterego, Raoul Duke, who became the voice in his famous Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, and several newspaper and magazine essays. Raoul Duke represented a side of the writer, the constant drinking and drug use and recklessness, that became the caricature of Thompson himself. Kennedy was most intrigued by a lesser-known period of the writer’s life in 1969 and 1970. This was after Thompson wrote Hell’s Angels and before his Fear and Loathing books had propelled him to fame. On the cusp of becoming a counter-culture celebrity, Thompson was living in