The Rum Diary

Some thirteen years after Johnny Depp first read the manuscript of THE RUM DIARY in Hunter S. Thompson’s “war room,” Johnny’s dream of bringing the Good Doctor’s first novel to the screen was fulfilled. The story of corruption, passion, and soul-searching in 1960 San Juan, adapted and filmed by Bruce Robinson in Puerto Rico in the spring of 2009, opened in the U.S. and Canada on October 28, 2011. Johnny played Paul Kemp, a hard-drinking freelance journalist who takes a job at a San Juan newspaper, but his hope for a fresh start is quickly complicated when a shady businessman, Sanderson (played by Aaron Eckhart) offers to pay Kemp to write flattering articles about a hotel development he's planning. Sanderson's gorgeous, free-spirited girlfriend Chenault (played by Amber Heard) complicates Kemp's life, too, as Kemp is increasingly drawn to her. Something's got to give!

"Inspired by Thompson’s own adventures as a journalist in Puerto Rico in the early ‘60s, THE RUM DIARY [. . .] is a wonder of sweaty, pungent atmosphere, and with the help of cinematographer Dariusz Wolski and actual Puerto Rican locations, the viewer is immersed in San Juan’s tension between aspiring to be an island paradise and acknowledging the reality that it’s a city rife with poverty," noted the review in Screen Daily. "THE RUM DIARY's central characters have to live within that dichotomy, Americans who abandoned the mainland for different reasons and are looking to Puerto Rico for a new life." Johnny himself described Kemp's journey as a process of discovering his voice, a voice of "ink and rage."

While THE RUM DIARY did only modest business at the box office, Johnny explained in a 2012 interview that it was the process of making the film--and fulfilling his promise to his late friend Hunter Thompson--that truly mattered. "I was able to get along with great friends and artists and realize Hunter's dream after his death, so whether three people or 300 million saw the film, it's the same to me," Johnny told journalist Ruben Nepales. "Because to me, the roots of that film began with a dear friend back in 1997. It was his dream to make that (novel) into a film. [. . .] To be able to get that film done and realize Hunter’s dream, to me it’s an enormous success. That’s really all that matters."

This gallery is a communal effort; many Zone members graciously contributed scans or screencaps. We extend our thanks to sleepy, evochka, AnaMaria, emma, Hiro3, and Theresa.

--Part-Time Poet










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