The story of the famous and influential 1960s rock band and its lead singer and composer, Jim Morrison, from his days as a UCLA film student in Los Angeles, to his untimely death in Paris, France at age 27 in 1971.
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Oliver Stone's homage to 1960s rock group The Doors also doubles as a biography of the group's late singer, the "Electric Poet" Jim Morrison. The movie follows Morrison from his days as a film student in Los Angeles to his death in Paris, France at age 27 in 1971. The movie features a tour-de-force performance by Val Kilmer, who not only looks like Jim Morrison's long-lost twin brother, but also sounds so much like him that he did much of his own singing. It has been written that even the surviving Doors had trouble distinguishing Kilmer's vocals from Morrison's originals. Written by
Denise P. Meyer <email@example.com>
Morrison says "Well we're a sullen group, Ed" without moving his lips. This was done deliberately to allow the audience into Jim Morrison's thoughts for just a moment. He could not say "Well, we're a sullen group, Ed!" directly to Ed Sullivan without being thrown out immediately. Instead, we are allowed to hear him think it, which leads us to the mischief Morrison got up to live on air.
Another example of deliberate audio/visual mismatch is when Jim is approached by a groupie at Andy Warhol's party. Replying to "Hey Jim, remember San Francisco?", Jim says "Uh no, not really", without moving his lips. We are allowed to hear him think in his drug addled state. See more »
Although less popular now, Jim Morrison was an American pop culture icon during the late 1960s. He liked to refer to himself as "Mr. Mojo Risin", an anagram of his name. Oliver Stone's film "The Doors" is mostly about Morrison ... his rise to stardom in the 1960s, his personality, and his mysterious death in 1971.
Influenced in childhood by American Indians, Morrison grew up fascinated with Indian Shamanism, elements of which he would later infuse into his poetry and music while hanging out in the mid 60s in the hip areas of Los Angeles. Here he would meet musician Ray Manzarek (Kyle MacLachlan). Along with two other band members, the group would form "The Doors", a name Morrison borrowed from the title of Aldous Huxley's book on drug use and enlightenment, called "The Doors Of Perception". During this time Morrison comes across as sensitive, shy, poetic, and an idealistic dreamer. The film's first hour is quite good. We get some insights into Jim's early years, and we get to hear some of that great music, like "Riders On The Storm", and "Light My Fire".
The film's second half is less interesting. Morrison himself has changed, as a result of his celebrity status. His narcissism, his boozing and drug use, have turned his world into chaos, which is evident in a couple of staged concert events, one in New Haven, the other in Miami. The amount of time that Oliver Stone spends on these noisy, chaotic events is excessive. Some of that could have been edited out.
As with most Stone films, the cinematography in "The Doors" is excellent, and includes some early CGI. Val Kilmer is a great choice to play the part of Morrison. And Kathleen Quinlan is good as Patricia, the seductive witch. The film's images at the cemetery in Paris, together with Gothic background music, make for a haunting finale.
Stone's movie is not to be taken in a literal sense. Rather, it is suggestive of the complex mix of personal and cultural forces that interacted to create a pop culture legend. As a byproduct of this cinematic tribute, the viewer gets to see how the late 1960s really were, with the art deco, the hippie lingo, and all that hostility that existed in society. The film thus counters the political revisionism that later decades have assigned to that period. As such, "The Doors" complements and reinforces other films of that era which also "tell it like it really was": "Medium Cool", "Easy Rider", "Alice's Restaurant", and "Zabriskie Point", to name a few.
Despite a noisy, irksome second half, "The Doors" is an intriguing film about an intriguing historical figure. Mr. Mojo Risin's "style" may have died with the times. But Jim Morrison, himself, lives on ... as legend.
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