Collapse is a surprisingly interesting documentary. It takes the format of an interview with investigative journalist,  the late Michael C. Ruppert, editor of the newsletter From The Wilderness, a newsletter that reported on Government corruption, Peak Oil and predicted amongst other things, the 2008 economic collapse.

Michael Ruppert was a former LAPD Narcotics Detective who became disillusioned with the Police Force after discovering links between the CIA, LAPD and cocaine trafficking. To cut a long story short he started the news letter “From the Wilderness” reporting on the misdeeds of government organisations and other stories often overlooked by mainstream media. Often labeled a conspiracy theorist by the establishment, his newsletter nevertheless ended up with 22,000 subscribers at it’s height and Michael was in demand as a public speaker around the world

Filmed in a drab warehouse style setting and consisting of Michael C Ruppert answering questions while chain smoking, you would be forgiven for thinking that this will be a dull film. Quite the opposite. Michael was very passionate about the things he reported, obviously a very intelligent man and his eloquence is evident in the interview. He is able to rattle off facts and figures and dates with considerable ease, and the information he is able to provide the viewer is in turns astounding and horrifying.

The links he is able to draw between world events and the corruption of governments are quite shocking and more than a little depressing. Spending a life reporting on the rotten heart of governments must take it’s toll and he comes across as an intensely troubled man, at one point in the interview breaking down. One does wonder though at how much was truth and how much was blown out of proportion or taken out of context. The viewer would do well to remember though, the old saying “there is no smoke without fire” when forming their own opinions about the film.

Personally I am always interested in watching and reading the “other side” of the news. News reports and articles by independent journalists unfettered by the purse strings of big corporations and politicians. Michael Ruppert was that type of journalist and Collapse is well worth watching.

Sadly it all became too much for Michael and in 2014 he took his own life.

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Gonzo Journalism – a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative.

I had first heard about Gonzo journalism when I watched the documentary ‘High There’ (reviewed here). It was this that led me to discover the works of Hunter S. Thompson, the man whose style of reporting spawned the term.

Hunter S. Thompson was a very talented, very unconventional, and certainly unusual writer, best known for works such as  Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, and The Rum Diary.

I was very keen to learn more about him and his life and first watched the wild and trippy Johnny Depp film ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ a dramatisation based on the book of the same name. Many of the scenes in the film were bizarre and only reinforced the desire to learn the real story about the man and I was lucky enough to find the documentary ‘Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.’

‘Gonzo’ tells the story of Hunter S. Thompson from his early days embedded with the Hells Angels, through the coverage of the McGovern presidential campaign, and into his later years as a supremely famous but drug and alcohol ‘infused’ writer.

Using actual footage from the period, interviews with his contemporaries, including narration by friend, Johnny Depp, as well as interviews with the man himself the film, paints a picture of a very clever writer striving to improve the world through his writing and political commentary. But at the same time one gets the feeling that he was a troubled man, one attempting to either dull or perhaps  even to enhance reality with his considerable alcohol and drug consumption, and eventually becoming a victim of his own fame and fabled excesses.

Gonzo’ is an interesting film, both from the point of view of learning about his life and career but also as a history lesson on the United States during the 60’s and 70’s. The music from that era makes for a great soundtrack but some of the scenes from that period are disturbing and it’s hard to believe that the America we know today has gone through the events portrayed in the film.

Hunter S. Thompson was a wild character and his capacity for alcohol and drug consumption was hard to believe although later scenes do seem to indicate signs of damage, with his slurring words and seeming lack of alertness, (or perhaps he was just “under the influence” while being filmed).

Whatever ones’ opinion on his lifestyle, there is no doubt that he was a supremely talented writer   but one has to wonder how much more could he have achieved and written had he lived a longer  and healthier life?

But then maybe he wouldn’t have been ‘Hunter S. Thompson’

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