How ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ Is Different From Its Book

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is an American black comedy film full of thrill and adventure. It’s adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 novel of the same name and was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam

The movie stars Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro as Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo. Furthermore, the film follows the duo as they go around Las Vegas, where their initial intentions to cover the city for a journal turn into an investigation of the town while being high.

As far as the difference between the movie and the book is concerned, the beginning of both is impressive. The starting lines are terrific. You may be familiar with the opening line where the author describes a scene: “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” 

It is followed by, “I remember saying something like ‘I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive.….’ And suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car. It was like going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas.” 

As far as the movie is concerned, the film involves a lot of quotes from the book. The use of quotes in the film adds motion to the picture. Therefore, it relies on narration. However, at some points, the addition of narration seems to be overused, such as in the scene where the characters enter the Circus Circus while using ether.

The book describes the scenes, whereas the movie depicts them. Here are the similarities and dissimilarities between the book and the movie.

More and More DrugsSimilarity

How ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ Is Different From Its Book

Credit: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is well-known for Thompson’s dramatic depiction of drugs and their effects on one’s mind and body. The way the writer has described the story in the book, the movie brings the hallucinogenic visions to life.

The content you find in the book is well depicted on screen. As a result, you will better understand the lives of characters dealing with drugs. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how excellently things are written on paper; the visual representation of the words makes a huge difference. After all, people believe in what they see.

Some scenes better appreciated in the movie include Duke’s LSD-induced trip to the reptile bar, the Devil’s Ether stroll, and a few others.

Duke’s NarrationSimilarity

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas features one of the most precise novel adaptations ever, thanks to the usage of narration. There are specific quotes and dialogues from Thompson’s writing that Duke uses in various side comments and inner monologues that he makes to himself.

On the other hand, Gilliam effectively translated Thompson’s babbling into the visual language of filmmaking.

About GonzoDissimilarity

How ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ Is Different From Its Book

Credit: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

In the movie, Benicio del Toro could have depicted the image of savage Dr. Gonzo the same as in the book, but he made it worse by not doing so. In addition, the character of Duke’s lawyer is also ineffective compared to his written equivalent.

Adding more to the talk, Dr.Gonzo is shown naked and intoxicated in the book. Also, there’s a scene in the book where Duke discovers his lawyer with Lucy in a hotel room. At one point, it also shows them sharing a bed. 

But in the movie, you’ll find Dr.Gonzo fully dressed in robes, implying what might have happened.

Hunting For The American DreamDissimilarity

The movie’s subtext involves ruining the American dream, whereas several sections in the book directly address the topic. However, they were either modified or omitted since they were ramblings, and their tone conflicted with a pretty momentous occasion.

These include the time Duke gleefully discovered the American Dream in a circus and when he and Dr. Gonzo asked a taco stand employee if she knew where they could find it. In addition, this happened when Dr. Gonzo threatened to murder a server before ordering pie, which is still one of the most disturbing scenes ever.Terry Gilliam

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