Drug Addiction in the Movies
Drug addiction has become popular as a movie theme. More and more these days, filmmakers produce movies that show how drugs can affect the lives of both addicts and the people around them. From the very early Reefer Madness, a propaganda piece to discourage the use of marijuana, to the recent Looper with Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt, which displays the use of future, as of yet undiscovered drugs.
Perhaps the most popular of recent drug addiction films is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a film produced in 1998. The movie initially flopped in theaters, but has since become a cult classic. The film was adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name, Thompson wrote the novel based upon the life of his friend Oscar Zeta Acosta, an attorney who disappeared in 1974. The film portrays the various hijinks of Duke and Dr. Gonzo, its two main characters. Between the two a host of different types drugs are taken, including: cannabis (marijuana), mescaline, thorazine, LSD, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, ether, amyl nitrite, opium, hashish, hash oil, and adrenochrome. While a lot of mayhem does occur in the film, and the characters do experience fear; the overall drug usages seems to hold no consequences for any of the characters.
A film that deals more in the reality of drug addiction and its consequences is Requiem for a Dream, which hit theaters in 2000. This film centers around the lives of Sara, her son Harry and Harry’s girlfriend Marion. Widowed Sara no longer sees much of her son Harry, and becomes addicted to prescription weight-loss amphetamine pills and sedatives while trying to lose weight to appear on a game show, which she thinks will make her and her son closer again. Harry and Marion are addicted to using heroin and believe that by selling heroin, they will be able to save enough money to start a “normal” life with Marion. Through a series of events, Sara ends up in a psychiatric center, Harry ends up in prison, and Marion ends up a prostitute. This movie has a much more realistic ending, where each main character ends the movie in a fetal position, dreaming of what could have been.
Another movie that deals with drug addiction in an accurate fashion is Forrest Gump. Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and LSD are all used in Forrest Gump by the character Jenny, who plays Forrest’s love interest. An abusive childhood forces Jenny to run away at a young age, and she gets involved in the hippie movement and uses and abuses a number of drugs. Eventually she has a son, gets clean, and moves back to marry Forrest, but eventually dies of an illness that the movie alleges to be related to her past drug addictions.
Drug addiction movies run the complete gambit in their portrayal of drug addiction and the consequences of drug use. There are hundreds of movies that use drug addiction as a theme or major character flaw. While an internet search will bring up lots of information, Wikipedia’s list of drug films may be one of the best places to start if you are looking for a specific film or drug topic.
Howard Kei is a filmographer and writer who guest blogs for movie and entertainment sites. He is also covers topics regarding addiction and recovery for http://www.drugrehabcomparison.com, including methadone treatment and 12-step programs.
November 30, 2012 at 8:30 am