Rum Diary holds true to book

March 7, 2012

By Lyzi Wakefield|Ranger Reporter


The Rum Diary, a book written in the 1960s by my favorite writer, Hunter S. Thompson, and published in 1998, has been made into a movie starring Johnny Depp. I watched carefully to get a feel of what was going to be made of Thompson’s story.

I first fell in love with Thompson and his writing when I saw the screen version of his book Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, a semi-fictional tale of a stand-in character of himself, also played by Depp, and quite well. I had seen the movie many times before realizing there was a book or even taking interest in knowing who wrote this tale of beautiful madness. In the movie, Depp depicts the chaotic nature within Duke and Hunter wrapped in one, and quite well. I grew fond of Johnny for his acting and Hunter for his charm and talent, but I feared he would ruin this role.

In 2011, years after the release of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Depp once again gave life to a character bearing much resemblance to Thompson himself. The movie began. Wild Puerto Rican jazz boomed and seduced my eardrums. Paul Kemp (Depp), a reporter from New York and a failing novelist, has come to Puerto Rico to score a job with a newspaper that clearly is going under and quickly sinking into the sand. He awakes in a hotel bed with a nasty and unforgiving hangover. He stumbles through the ransacked room over to a large and draped window. He rips apart the two curtains where they meet in the middle, and light beats his busted lip and red eyes. It was about fifteen minutes in that I began to doubt my initial judgment. I should have trusted that with Depp, Hunter’s story was in safe and commendable hands.

I wasn’t disappointed by the film after all. As I was watching the film, I imagined how it happened in the words of Hunter. I am not disappointed when I compare the novel and film in my mind. Just like most other duos, the book still is better than the movie. In the book, it is purely the voice of Hunter himself. There is much more detail to the story line in the book, and visualization is left to imagination. Although it can’t be matched up word for word, scene by scene, throughout the entire film, I think it is a decent adaptation of the words of a great writer of our day. I don’t think Dr. Thompson would be offended, either.

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