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Review: When I Die (2005)

Directed by: | 60 minutes | | Actors: , , Bob Braudis, , Steve Cohen, , , , Tom McClain, , , Christi Palazzi, Martin Phillips, Robert Quinton, , Thomas Scroggin, Katharine Seelye, , Brett Thompson,

There is a certain surrounding the name Hunter S. Thompson. As a journalist he made a name for himself with a new genre, the so-called “gonzo journalism”. Thompson was always part of the topic he wrote about. For example, he went undercover with the Hells Angels, according to him the only way to come to a good story.

Thompson is also the center of attention in “When I Die”. About 27 years before his death, during an with the BBC, he fantasized about what his funeral should look like. One dreams of a white box and a carriage with horses, the other of a big party in a nightclub. However, Thompson had other plans. He wanted a 50 meter high obelisk. On top of the obelisk should be the image of a fist with two thumbs. Then his ashes should be shot into the sky along with fireworks.
His special wish matched his eccentric life. After his death, his wife and son went to work with friends and hired forces to fulfill his wish.

The film is structured very structurally and starts with the fragment that Hunter tells about his plans. Then the documentary takes the viewer step by step through the realization. The viewer is treated to a first class project management course. The design of the monument is worked out and produced according to plan, the local residents are involved in the plans and the fire brigade is also consulted about the fireworks that will be lit in this dry August.

Time-lapse technique is used a lot in “When I Die”. From a distance, the camera follows the progress of the construction of the Gonzo monument. A day’s work is filmed within one minute. In this reasonably simple way, the amount of completed work is clearly shown.

After weeks, months of preparation, the time has come: August 16, 2005, the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson are shot into the air. And it must be said: it is a happening. It must be a goosebumps moment for family, friends and fans of Thompson. In the documentary it is enhanced with the “Spirits In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum.

Perhaps the most important conclusion of When I Die is: you can’t live without friends. And friends who keep your wishes even after you die are worth gold!

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