Stephen Gaghan Adapting Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels
Hell's Angels. Those two words are able to conjure a myriad of emotions, no matter if you're eighteen or seventy-eight. Leather. Anarchy. Violence. Honor. Imposition. Counter-culture. Fear. ComingSoon reports from an interview with director Tony Scott that he and Stephen Gaghan are set to bring the notorious biker gang to the big screen. Gaghan, the Academy Award-winning scribe of Traffic, is currently adapting Hunter S. Thompson's nonfiction work Hell's Angels - a first person account of the gang from inside its ranks. In order to conduct his research in the 1960's, Thompson became a member of the gang itself.
He was able to provide a startling, up close and personal account of the gang, his experiences as a member, as well as the people that make up Hell's Angels. The work displays a more sober voice for Thompson, one that evolves throughout its writing from "outsider to sympathetic defender," as Adam Rosenberg puts it.
This isn't the first time Thompson has been adapted, as you most certianly know. Terry Gilliam successfully brought the much more psychotropic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to the big screen in 1998. Though, the pairing of Gilliam to Thompson, and vice versa, seems a more natural mesh than that of Thompson to Tony Scott, who may not direct, but will at least produce. Gaghan, though, is an apt choice to pen the adaptation. His ability to write seemingly unsympathetic characters in Traffic gives me confidence that Hell's Angels will be both an honest account of the gang itself as well as a faithful adaptation of Thompson's work.
Tony Scott is truly the wild card here. I'm a huge fan of Scott. Though his films are never transcendent, he's a fearless director when it comes to visual experimentation. There's something to be said in regard to letting Thompson's words just speak for themselves. And I certainly wouldn't want to see a Gaghan script akin to Traffic get the Domino treatment - but Scott's dynamism may be just the lens the material needs. Regardless, watching the experiences of Hell's Angels as distilled by Hunter S. Thompson as distilled by Stephen Gaghan makes me very, very excited. But should the director's chair read a different name?