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The Lizard King
Manthorpe17 June 2004
We all know how legendary The Doors were and still are, and sooner or later someone was going to make a film about them. Might as well be Oliver Stone. Given the subject matter, Stone was able to go off the deep end with his imagery here to the point of making one have an epileptic seizure OR think they just dropped some acid. Either way, it's great to watch in my book.

The film is flawed in that it's not titled correctly. It's not about The Doors, it's about Jim Morrison and basically just the wild and crazy side of him. That's ok I guess, Morrison was The Doors. Many have criticized Stone for not depicting Jim in the proper light, but given how many people knew him it had to be an almost impossible task to please everyone as everyone knew him differently. I think we all can attest to this through the friendships we have with our friends. Some know us as one way, and some know us as another. I respect Stone for trying and feel sorry for him about the flak people have given him as I know he is a very talented director. I think his intentions were spawned out of true admiration and that he made this film for himself and to pay tribute, and not to win any awards. More of this can be found on the Special Edition DVD from Stone himself.

Even if one does not enjoy the trippy qualities of the film such as I do, or any part for that matter, one could not avoid admitting how well Val Kilmer portrays Morrison. It's simply amazing and is one of the best performances that I can bring to mind, and is the best example of how to literally become someone else, bar none. He doesn't act like he's Jim Morrison, he becomes Jim Morrison. He is Jim Morrison. This is no doubt helped by the uncanny facial similarities the two have. Not only that, most of the singing that's in the film was done by Kilmer himself and even a few of the original band members admitted that they honestly could not tell the difference between their two voices. Even if you hate Val Kilmer, this performance jumps in your face and screams for respect while trying to strangle you.

As mentioned earlier, some do not like the film for several reasons. One is that it makes Jim look like a monster and that it only glorifies his wild and uninhibited behavior. Two is that it's basically just one big acid trip into bits of history about the band. For one, Oliver Stone said it best....when you have to condense a person's life, a legend at that, into two measly hours you must take the highlights. Everyone lives longer than two hours, even Jim. We all know Jim was crazy, and with so many of the insane stories Stone heard while trying to piece together the script for this, a lot of what he heard was simply what you see. The wild and crazy side. As a result, what we're left with is not an accurate depiction of The Doors or of Jim Morrison. It is entertaining, yes, but it is not accurate. I think it could have been done perfectly, but it would have been excruciatingly difficult...and still not everyone would like it. And as far as the trippiness of the film, well that's Oliver Stone for you. We saw the same thing in Natural Born Killers a few years later. I personally like the style of it and felt that it was in place here but that's just my opinion. The '60's, drugs, and rock and roll equals trippy.

Overall a decent attempt at one of the most difficult subjects to cover, legends. And even though it's not entirely accurate and even though Morrison is one of my idols and he deserved a little better, I do enjoy the film greatly. The film should have been named Pandora's Box.
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Val Kilmer's Magnum Opus
b_buddy120 May 2008
The Doors is unapologetically a film about sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. For 140 minutes we follow Doors singer Jim Morrison from his days as an aspiring film student at UCLA to his death in Paris in 1970 at the age of 27. Writer-director Oliver Stone based the story of the film on some 150 transcripts detailing the life and character of Morrison. The result is far from flattering. The Doors paints a picture of a man enamored with death, his own inevitable demise more a relief than an agony.

Death stalks Morrison wherever he goes from a young age. As a child driving through the New Mexico desert with his family, Morrison happens across the site of a car accident littered with dead and dying Navahos. We watch the young Morrison endure what seems to be a sort of possession rite by spirits of the dead natives. Years later he'll profess to be a shaman and from what we see on screen, he might well have believed it to be true. Native American spirits dance alongside Morrison as he sings on stage. Whether these were real or simply an acid fueled hallucination is left deliberately unclear by Stone. Likewise, a death-like character (Richard Rutowski) shadows Morrison throughout his life as a rock singer. Whether this indicates Morrison saw death as a friend, was actually accompanied by Rutowski (who was a real life friend of Morrison), or was simply hallucinating remains ambiguous. What is clear is the following: in his great desire to self destruct, Morrison drank whiskey like water and spent an inordinate amount of time on precarious ledges outside Hotel windows thirty stories up.

Kilmer's performance as Morrison is easily the finest of his career. Raw, nervy, deliberately off putting and confrontational, moments of sobriety are few are far between for this insecure egomaniac. At times I didn't feel as though I was watching a portrayal of a character long deceased so much as a documentary. From threatening suicide repeatedly to quarreling constantly with police at concerts, scenes of bad behavior are many but moments of insight are few and far between. This doesn't seem a shortcoming on behalf of director Stone so much as an accurate depiction of the highly acidic Morrison as he truly was; this was a man who didn't want to be understood. This was an artist on the constant edge of oblivion; an iconoclast who refused to be loved and was close to intolerable whenever possible. Of course it's less than a pleasant experience following the venomous creature that Morrison became for the film's final hour as he goes from alcohol induced nervous breakdown to drug fueled indecent exposure, but I for one appreciate Stone's refusal to Hollywoodize the life and death of Morrison. Kilmer abandons completely all instinct for self preservation on screen, submerging himself in a performance that can only be described as his magnum opus.

Meg Ryan leads the supporting cast as Pamela "Morrison" Courson, Morrison's longtime lover and common-law wife. Ryan seems lost in the role but thankfully spends a minimal amount of time on screen as Morrison was a firm supporter of the "free love" social movement. Indeed, he spends more time with journalist and witchcraft enthusiast Patricia Kennealy (Kathleen Quinlan), an amalgam of several Morrison lovers who suffered through his frequent alcohol and drug induced impotence. A very fine Michael Madsen is wasted as actor Tom Baker, a friend of Morrison's whose relationship is grossly underdeveloped. The only performance among the supporting cast worthy of praise is that of quirky character actor Crispin Glover in a cameo as Andy Warhol, a scene that is absolutely spellbinding.

Some may criticize The Doors for glamorizing a life of excess; this film gives younger viewers the idea that drugs and promiscuous sex are fun, critics may charge. Those who would are missing the point entirely. As are those who would interpret this film as the cautionary tale of a life wasted. Little about the character we view on screen is glamorous. It seems no accident that Morrison died as he did. This was a man obsessed with death; his demise seems more a moment of wish fulfillment than tragedy. My only significant criticism of the film is that the title is certainly a misnomer; this could have easily been titled "The Jim Morrison Story" as there is not a single scene on screen without the eccentric singer while the remaining members of the band are relegated to obscurity. Call it art imitating life once more.
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A refreshing cinematic breakthrough in an era in which cinema seems all but forgotten!
famsmith3 December 2000
This film is truly a gem. The Doors is easily the best film of the rock n' roll genre and at least one of the most important films of its era. Though I am not an Oliver Stone fan I must give credit where it is due. Stone really does a terrific job with this film, and shows what he is capable of when he actually knows about the subject he is attempting to comment on. A few of the scenes in the film are almost exact recreations of actual events. However, the magnificent thing about this film is that it manages to recreate a certain amount of reality while simultaneously realizing that for a film to possess its own vitality it must transcend the preexisting reality, move beyond the surface, beyond everything that is obvious, and express and explore something deeper. Val Kilmer delivers a powerful performance in which he almost seems to be channeling the energy of Jim Morrison, and though I've seen many of Meg Ryan's films this is the only one I can recollect where she does such a good job that she makes you really forget about her and focus on the character. The cinematography of the film by Robert Richardson (Platoon, Wall Street, Born on The Fourth of July, Natural Born Killers, Casino, Bringing out the Dead, and many more) is bold and unique making the film one of the most distinct visual films I've ever seen. This film is truly one of a kind, and breaks through into new cinematic territory, giving priority to the visual aspects of the film in an era where there are so few films that even give much consideration to the single most important aspect of the motion picture. The genius of this film is that it is visual-audio as opposed to audio-visual and is more concerned with expressing something than simply impressing the audience. The Doors is a refreshing cinematic breakthrough in an era in which cinema seems all but forgotten.
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Absorbing movie - i didn't want it to end. (my only friend...)
Ben_Cheshire29 February 2004
Utterly absorbing bio-pic of Jim Morrison. The name Val Kilmer is, or should be, synonymous with incredible acting that is not merely natural or convincing, but immensely fun and commanding. You may have noticed while watching his recent Wonderland - Val has the ability to make a picture. Here, he IS The Doors: The Movie. There, he WAS Wonderland. I am exaggerating, i suppose. For Oliver Stone has crafted a marvellous film which makes you feel like you've experienced what the sixties were like. Through using The Doors actual music (what was missing from the recent Sylvia, the art of the subject itself - her poetry) to help tell its story and colour its scenes, and filmic techniques to create the drug-induced world vision of Jim Morrison, Stone really takes you into the world of his movie, and the world of the sixties.

This movie made me appreciate what an exciting experience The Doors were, and has actually cultivated love in me for their music. I didn't realise they had more than one classic: Light my Fire, The End, People are Strange, Love her Madly, Break on Through to the Other Side, Riders on the Storm, Touch Me, Roadhouse Blues (Let it roll, baby roll) and probably more i'm yet to discover.

For a better recreation of what Andy Warhol's factory actually felt like, see I Shot Andy Warhol. Crispin Glover actually looks more like Andy than the guy who plays him in "I Shot," but the guy in I Shot much better captured Andy's vagueness and almost unconsciousness while in conversation. This, however, is but three minutes in the movie and has no effect on it as a whole.

Oliver Stone has an amusing cameo: a young film student, Jim Morrison, shows his short film to his class, who are uncouth and disparaging about it, after which camera pans to reveal Oliver Stone standing at the lecturn, (obviously, playing the film professor), who says: "Why don't we ask the author what he thinks?"
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Mr. Mojo Risin And The Turbulent 60s
Lechuguilla23 April 2006
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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An ordinary film with one extraordinary performance
hall89530 May 2006
Watching Oliver Stone's The Doors can be at times a frustrating experience. Considering the central figure in the film is pretty much always drunk or stoned or both the entire plot seems to unfold in a bit of a haze. Those watching the film may come away feeling a little stoned themselves. Yet through the drug and alcohol-fueled haze this film does have a lot to recommend it. Most notably it has one of the most stunningly brilliant acting performances you could ever hope to see. Val Kilmer, playing Jim Morrison, is simply perfect in the role. It sounds clichéd but Kilmer really seems to become Morrison. The physical resemblance is eerie and their voices are so similar it is fairly impossible when listening to the film's soundtrack to figure out when exactly you're hearing Morrison and when you're hearing Kilmer. Tracing Morrison's journey from shy, reserved youth to manic, drugged-out rock god the performance by Kilmer is mesmerizing throughout.

As good as Kilmer is you can't help but feel that his performance deserved to be surrounded by a better film. The film might as well have been titled "Morrison" because it is much more the story of one man than it is the story of his band. And therein lies much of the problem because while Kilmer is undeniably terrific, Morrison, at least as he is portrayed in this film, is not a very sympathetic character. That shy, quiet guy we see on the beach at the film's beginning becomes a bit of a monster, at times almost completely unlikable. And since the film revolves entirely around Morrison it makes the film often hard to embrace. Many would argue that Morrison was unfairly portrayed here, not nearly as mean-spirited and hot-tempered as we are led to believe. The truth probably lies somewhere in between but the fact remains that in this film it is very hard to embrace Jim Morrison and as such it is very hard to completely embrace the film.

With the focus almost completely on Kilmer's Morrison the rest of the cast comes off as little more than bit players. Kyle MacLachlan as keyboardist Ray Manzarek has the most to do amongst the remaining band members and his performance is fine but it really gets swallowed up by the ever-present and always center stage Morrison. Meg Ryan, playing Morrison's longtime companion Pamela Courson, is allowed only to react to Morrison's antics and never establishes a character and identity of her own. Even when stoned out of her mind, as everybody in this film always seems to be, Pamela comes across as the wholesome girl next door who is, well, rather dull. Kathleen Quinlan has a more memorable turn as another woman in Morrison's life, Patricia Kennealy, who is anything but dull. But again her character is there only to serve Jim. It's always about Jim. Nobody could deny that Jim Morrison was the most captivating figure in The Doors. But as the film unfolds and you watch Morrison stumble from one stupor to the next you'll probably wish we could have spent a little more time with some of the other characters. This film version of Jim Morrison is a hard guy to love.

So in the end what are we left with? You get one awe-inspiring, magnificent performance but that performance overshadows everything else going on in the film. You get a fascinating life story but one that unfortunately proceeds mostly in a frustrating drug-induced haze. You certainly get a tremendous soundtrack with all of The Doors' most notable songs. Well, most of them anyway. There seems to be a real yin and yang with this movie. There is plenty that is very good about it, but all that is good seems to be balanced out by something which frustrates. Jim Morrison led an extraordinary life but this film which tells his tale ends up being rather ordinary.
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Great visual film that concentrates on one aspect of a brilliant but troubled rock legend.
joediduca23 September 2005
Jim Morrison wrote many of the Doors songs and was a complete drunk by the time he died in 1971. This film depicts Morrison in a very one sided view. Yes he was an alcoholic with a disregard for authority, yes he was on self destruct mode and burnt out quickly reaffirming the James Dean "Live fast Die young" motif. But what is missing from Stone's depiction of him was his great intellect,his absurd humour and his natural talent as a composer and vocalist. However it is a wonderfully visual film that takes the viewers on a hallucinogenic ride through drug hazed Los Angeles in the late 60's. It was the first of many films that Stone created in the 90's using an almost dream like quality to evoke the feeling of the turbulent times.

Although this picture is not a 100% accurate account of who or what Jim Morrison was it is still very engaging and enjoyable. A good place for someone who is new to the Doors to start.
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"Nothing to touch the earth, not to see the sun, nothing left to do but run, run, run, let's run."
MisterWhiplash26 April 2003
This is just a sampling of the lyrics that singer/writer Jim Morrison contributed to his group The Doors, and just this, as part of his epic piece "The Celebration of the Lizard" shows his skill as a master of the written word. He is shown in Oliver Stone's The Doors as a shy, though often obnoxious and crude, persona who self describes himself in one scene: "I think of myself as a sensitive, intelligent human being, but with the soul of a clown that forces me to blow it at the most crucial of moments." He may have blown it in the end, but it makes for a fascinating story.

As being a Doors fan, the music and words are the best character of the movie- the songs represent feelings and emotions, desires and hatreds, and other facets of life in the late 60's, are indispensable gems of rock and blues. While the Doors recorded only six albums together (not counting American Prayer, Morrison's awesome feat of an album) each one is still transfixed into the minds of people all over the world. It's thirty-two years since the king died, but in another thirty-two he will still be remembered. And that is a fact that Stone plays with like Travis Bickle in front of the mirror with his guns in Taxi Driver. He reveals only Morrison's known persona, and not the quiet moments. The concert recreations are grand, but there isn't more of the sweet Jim (one glimpse of such a Jim is seen at a birthday party when he gives out gifts as "Chief Mojo Risin)

What is shown is splendid enough for his abilities- he paints a vivid picture of Los Angeles 1965 onward, with Val Kilmer in the second best acting job of 1991 (deserved of an Oscar nomination), and puts Jim in the middle. He is a man who is fascinated with death, with man's wills to power, and how life gets painful without the chemicals top open the mind. Kilmer gets so much into your head in this film that by the end you'll love him, hate him, or feel wonder about him. I felt wonder about him, wonder why he looked to heroes who gave him such ideas about the love of death, wonder why he felt the need to take it to the limits.

But his desires are Stone's as well, and while this isn't a perfect film, it's one that isn't easily forgotten. A+
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changed my life
dogge8411 April 2003
My eyes were closed until autumn 1995, when channel 5 in Sweden showed The Doors. I taped it and didn't think too much of it in the beginning. The only thing I knew about The Doors was their song "Light my fire".

A friend of mine, who borrowed the film from me, told me he liked the "cave" scene and the music in it. I myself liked the scene where Jim climbs up to Pam's balcony. That was pretty much it. But then I noticed the song "love street" which is played in the beginning, and then I realized that the guitar intro to "The end" wasn't that bad. After that I bought the soundtrack and now I was pretty much hooked. I put my eurodisco records on a shelf and became a "rock'n roller", and Jim was my role model. My relationship to Jim Morrison is actually the closest to being a gay that I will ever be.

The best part of the film are the opening thirty minutes, where Jim "quits" his film class on UCLA, follows Pam home from the beach and takes her out on a night walk, rehearses with the band and "Light my fire" is introduced. Too bad we never get to see the band being formed. I love that story, when Jim meets Ray on the beach and that conversation leads up to Jim singing "Moonlight drive". This scene is also one of few which shows the real Jim Morrison, but I will get back to that later. Around this time, Jim meets his girlfriend with whom he stayed until he died.

After half an hour, the movie takes on in a different direction. It is from now on, a very dark movie. This is for a reason, and the reason is that Oliver wants the audience to see everything through Jim's eyes. The result is that some scenes are very surreal and after a while you may think that Oliver Stone himself took some acid before shooting them.

The negative side of the film, which have made many people upset, is the way Jim Morrison is presented. Jim is high or/and drunk in nearly every scene he appears in, and since the movie is shown through his angle the result is the surrealism and spaced-out scenes. "Jimbo" has unfortunately a bigger part than Jim. (See the movie and you'll know what I mean.)

I have read practically every book there is to read about The Doors, including the one named "light my fire", written by the organist Ray Manzarek. This guy isn't too happy with the movie. I see his point but at the same time, he confirms in the book that most of the things in the movie has actually happened; the back against the audience, the Ed Sullivan sequence where Jim sings the word "higher" on national television, the TV-throwing in the studio. Other things could never happen or are just simply wrong; the Andy Warhole-party where Jim is abandoned by the rest of the band (something that true friends would never do to one another), Jim's student project (his movie didn't look like that at all), Jim's red mustang (Jim had a blue mustang which he actually called "the blue lady").

Oliver Stone focuses the movie on the wrong things. Sure, Jim Morrison was a pothead, but he was also a very intelligent, sensitive, friendly and funny person. This is far from the picture most people have of him after seeing the movie. But if you know this, and just want some Rock'n roll in your life you will like the movie anyway. Another strange thing is that Oliver Stone has said that he loved Jim and wanted the movie to be a sort of homage to him!? Some homage. So the film is great, however it is not the real story of Jim Morrison. The only time we see the sensitive side of Jim is when he turns down an early offer from a record company man who tells him to "drop those guys".

The music numbers are the scenes that impresses me the most. The choreography, the lighting of the stage, and, above all, the fact that Val Kilmer actually sings all the songs by himself. Look at the "Not to touch the earth" sequence and you'll know what I mean.

And now we come to the best thing with this movie. The ONE thing that made me buy it and watch it about 30 times after that. That thing is Val Kilmer. An actor who hadn't made anything spectacular before this and haven't really done anything after it. He was born to do this part. It isn't the real Jim, but an alternative Jim who you kind of love to hate. But now I'm only talking about the personality. Kilmer walks like, talks like, sings like, and above all looks like Jim. And some looks. What wouldn't I give to have that hair or that wardrobe.

Besides Kilmer, there are many more great and well-known actors in this movie; Mimi Rogers, Michael Wincott, Josie Bissett, Crispin Glover, Kathleen Quinlan (who plays the very true character Patricia Keneally), and one of the few actors that I can't stand; Michael Madsen. Also, some artists gone acting; Billy Idol, Swedens own Eagle-Eye Cherry (whose scene were cut out from the final film), and if my eyes aren't lying to me; Billy Vera. And oh yeah, I almost forgot: MEG RYAN (arrr).

Also, do not forget to check out the cool end credits, with fast speeding pictures of night time L.A, being played to "L.A woman".

I now see that channel four is showing "Wall Street". Very appropriate way to spend the rest of this evening, don't you think? Of course, it can't be compared to The Doors but nevertheless!
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Great film , super band!
jasontherockstar12 March 2006
I think the film about the Doors made me become more of a fan of the band. I love the music and i really like the Indian and desert influences around Jim's poetry and music. The film tought me that Jim was affected by an incident involving Indians bleeding on the side of the road when he was a kid. This led to his stardom and i an unfortunate death. Even though Jim is portrayed as being a crazy alcoholic and a cheat and the fact that the film misses out much of the goods points about him, this is what makes the film exciting towards the viewers. Val Kilmar looks like him and even sounds like him. Val could have been a rocker!!! Great movie!!!
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Very insightful movie and excellent performance by Val
JZECCOLO5 February 2005
Val Kilmer did a great job portraying Jim Morrison. He brings you into the spiraling life of Jim Morrison and back to the days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Throughout the movie you see what made Jim Morrison tick, and get to hear some great music along the way. The cinematography during his drug induced hallucinations is well done and helps pull you into Morrison;s life. Definitely a movie you can sit and watch more than once and one you can enjoy whatever age you are.

Whether you were a dedicated Mossison fan or have never followed him, this movie is entertaining on it's face. The fact that the movie portrays the real life of a rock and roll legend, makes the movie that much more interesting.
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A great time capsule of the 60's and one of Oliver Stone's finest works!
talisencrw22 September 2016
I KNOW I'm giving way too many stars for this, but I don't care; The Doors were one of my very first favourite groups. I fondly recall, when I was 11, and Elektra Records released 'The Doors' Greatest Hits', and the album-length version of 'Light My Fire' was played all the time on the radio, and I was mesmerized by the instrumental middle of the song, got the album from my parents for Christmas, and started a lifelong love affair with the band. Yes, Jim Morrison is highly overrated. Yes, the movie is an extremely self-indulgent mess and it can be quite incoherent and incohesive. But the Sixties, the L.A. rock scene back then, and especially Morrison's life, were just like that, so it is oh so fitting!

I adore the fact that it was Oliver Stone's labour of love (one of thankfully many) and that the surviving members of the band basically had full input. I would take this and 'Talk Radio' (my personal favourite Stone's throw) over a hundred of Stone's politically over-the-top movies any day!

When I was 17, I took my life savings and visited, on my own, nine European countries, including France and its capital, Paris. Did I go for the Eiffel Tower, wild romance on Richard Linklater-esque trains, or its outstanding magic and sidewalk cafes? No--train-wise I had to put up with a stupid labour strike, such that an overnight sleeper car from Berne, Switzerland to Paris had to be switched, in the middle of the night, FOUR times, just so they could prove a point. And it was just to see Morrison's grave. I met 20 fantastic people who had made the pilgrimage from all over the world, and it was my first time having red wine and smoking pot. The graffiti and the sculpture of him, in the Pere Lachaise cemetery, were fascinating, as was his life. Would I go through that again? Of course I would.

It's Val Kilmer's best work by a mile. The film just oozes charisma and breathes life--just as the band's work must have done back in the day. Worth a purchase and re-watches (I watch it each year on Jim's birthday and accidentally bought it twice), for any fan of 60's music or its culture. A bonafide classic when Stone was actually really something.
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A compelling but seriously flawed film
MF21013 January 2006
My Rating: **1/2 out of ****.

One thing you can say about Oliver Stones The Doors is that Stone has no intention of forcing the audience to like the main character. Stone spends almost the entire 138 minutes making Jim Morrison into the biggest asshole that he possibly can. Really, when I first rented this film I had no idea what to expect since Oliver Stone is sort of hit-or-miss with me. I can honestly say the film held my attention completely but at the end I was unsatisfied with what I had seen.

The remaining members of The Doors have criticized this film saying that it only portrayed one side of Morrison and that some of the actions in the film were far worse than anything he ever did (throwing the TV in the studio for instance). To be honest, I felt exactly the same way. By the end I was like, "There has to be more to this man than this!!!!"." I know Morrison had drinking and drug problems, and thats on full display. Stone makes clear that we see the flaws of Morrison and pretty much nothing else. If Stone wanted to make a film that showed the dark side of a rock star than he accomplished his goal admirably.

But the film is just too disappointingly shallow. Morrison was supposedly a very shy front-man at first which we actually do see in the beginning when he sings with his back turned toward the audience. It's a shame Stone didn't explore this "shy, intelligent" man that the Doors always talk about instead of the sadistic asshole on display here. If Stone had made Morrison into a more well-rounded character than this could have been a great film.

What cannot be criticized about the film is Val Kilmer's electrifying performance. Forget the small little flaws like Kilmer is six inches taller than Morrison was and that Kilmers face is a little fatter than Morrisons and just watch this magnificent piece of acting. I have never been that impressed with Val Kilmer's acting ability before I saw this film so seeing him in this was a mindblowing experience. He completely inhabits Morrison and its hard to believe he was actually the second choice for the role. This will undoubtedly be a career best for Kilmer and it is a damn shame he didn't at least get an Oscar Nomination.

The supporting cast is also impressive, particularly Meg Ryan. Ryan excels much more in lighter roles but here she dos a very good job as Morrison's girlfriend, Pamela Courson. Kevin Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan, and Frank Whaley do the best they can with limited screen time as the remaining members of The Doors.

Stone's films have always been uneven when it comes to visual styles. In such films as Natural Born Killers, Any Given Sunday, and to some extent, Nixon, they have been exercises of cinematic masturbation with hyper editing and completely unnecessary film stock switches. Fortunately, thats not the case here as the film has a more straightforward look that complements the film well instead of distracting us.

Stone can make a compelling film and The Doors is never boring. It has a lot of good points: a tremendous lead performance, impressive supporting work, effective cinematography, and a great soundtrack. Its a shame that the film is hampered by a shallow script. If the script were better it is quite possible The Doors could have been a great film. As it stands, its a compelling, though definitely disappointing film.
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love this movie two times, and forever after that
lee_eisenberg12 August 2005
Probably no music biopic has ever done a greater job looking into its subject than "The Doors". Focusing mainly on Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer), we get to see his masterful ability to write songs, but also his demons and his descent into complete madness. Jim Morrison was a genius and a nut. The movie never makes the mistake of becoming a litany of songs: it looks at the historical context, with the Vietnam War and everything else that made up the '60s. Val Kilmer does an incredible job playing Jim Morrison, and Meg Ryan is equally good as his girlfriend Pamela. Believe you me, there will never be another Jim Morrison. When he died in 1971, that really was the end.

When I went to Paris in 1994, I went to Pere Lachaise and saw Jim Morrison's grave. There are signs pointing to it.
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Not the story it should have been... but watchable
ReyAce15 October 2005
One thing you can say for Stone is that he knows how to make a good LOOKING movie. Unfortunately he plays so fast and loose with the truth that the end result is more a work of fiction rather than of history. Such is the case with "The Doors", a movie that any real Doors fan knows is only a caricature of the band's front-man, Jim Morrison.

Stone took the most sensational moments in Morrison's life and focused on it entirely, the end result being that he captured only a mere sliver of Morrison's true life and personality. While the film medium as a whole has never been as good as books when documenting someone's life or career, Stone's portrayal of Morrison unforgivably verges on fiction in its artistic license. Absent is the sensitive, intelligent person who many - including himself - considered a true poet, missing is the person who acknowledged the ridiculousness of his celebrity and sought to destroy it one glorious night in Miami, and equally missing is the source of the person who WAS James Douglas Morrison. As comedian Denis Leary once put it after seeing the movie, "Here I can sum it up for you - I'm a drunk, I'm a nobody, I'm a drunk, I'm famous, I'm a drunk, I'm dead!" Not exactly the best summation for a man whose cultural contributions to American music can still be felt 35 years after his death. Nice going, Oliver.

On the positive side the movie looks incredibly good, (most likely due to cinematographer Robert Richardson rather than Stone himself), and the viewer does come away with a feel for Morrison's charisma, stage presence, and mystical inclinations. Val Kilmer had deep shoes to fill and very convincingly does so - perhaps the only person on planet earth capable of bringing such a complicated character as Morrison to the screen. The rest of the cast also is well-placed, even though the characters on the screen were considerably different than who they were portraying. (Thanks again, Oliver.)

All in all, the movie is worth watching. If you're an intrigued first-timer being introduced to the music and legacy of The Doors from this movie, take it with a grain of salt and do yourself a favor - go out and get the biographies of former band members Ray Manzarek and John Densmore, then watch the live concert material available. You'll be glad you did.
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Hmmmm....bad, yet good.
travschwab16 October 2001
First off, The Doors are my favorite band. EVER. No one can match up to their revolutionary style, their originality, or the music. They are truly THE GREATEST AMERICAN BAND. And one of the most influential bands. EVER. Also one of the most controversial bands. Those are just some of the reasons why The Doors are my fav.

Anyway...the Oliver Stone film is good, but not a spectacular piece of work. I did enjoy watching it and would also recommend it. If you never listened to The Doors or aren't really into them then I think this flick will get you interested in the band and their music. But for the most part the movie seems to focus too much on Morrison and in some parts when it does, it seems fake. For example, when Jim is talking or arguing with his girl he is always taking a line from one of his songs and/or from his poems. If you listened to the music before then you would know what I mean. It seems Stone didn't know what to write so he just borrowed some lines from a song/poem and put them in the script. And the preformance by Kilmer is very good, but not great. It seems as if he's trying too hard to become him and when he does he seems to go overboard. But as a movie this is good. As a biography about Jim Morrison this is mediocre. Even the fellow members of The Doors say Morrison isn't portrayed 100%, saying that the movie just portrayed the bad, drunk, disgusting Morrison and never really showed the good humored, shy, sensitive Morrison.

Well, at least there's still the music.
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The Doors (1991)
seemoreglass63 August 2010
Oliver Stone, a director notorious for rewriting historical events to suit his own agenda, is in typical form in this epic aggrandizement.

Though Stone is often regarded as one of cinema's foremost chroniclers of the 60s, The Doors seems aimed not so much at those who "were there," & who might thus be expected to view the film from a nostalgic as well as a critical perspective, as it is at young people liable to be seduced by the film's idealistic glamor without questioning its historical validity. I know; I was one of their smitten multitudes at the time it came out. Hence the movie finds Stone (as usual) simply doing whatever he wants, with a kind of indulgence that can only be described as adolescent…from having Jim Morrison quit UCLA Film School when he actually graduated from it to attributing the words of French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud to Morrison himself. It wouldn't have been out of line if he'd marketed his film in conjunction with meal deals and "Doors" action figures, because that, in spite of star Val Kilmer's best efforts, is precisely what the script makes this story into. Peppered with cringingly bad but campishly fabulous dialog like "We're gonna fu*k death away, baby" and "Would you forget about The Doors? It's you they want…Jim Morrison, the god of rock" Stone's script might have easily come right out of Spinal Tap; even if, in all fairness, 20-something rock stars in the prime of their careers do tend to be clichés...whether they're prodigiously brilliant lyricists or not.

By most accounts, there seems to be no doubt Morrison was probably as excessive as Stone portrays him here. In fact, the rock star's theatricality fits...and mostly conveniently renders superfluous...the director's penchant for the same. But even with so much real-life luridness to work with, Stone doesn't hesitate to repeatedly insert inventions.....such as in the scene where a jealously raging "Jim" locks a heroin-droopy "Pam" in the closet and sets it on fire.

On the positive side, Val Kilmer does a wonderful job here. His is one of those rare performances that is more psychic channeling than homage, and his physical resemblance to Morrison is uncanny. But Meg Ryan as the 18-24 year old Pamela Courson, Morrison's "cosmic mate," is absurd, and Kathleen Quinlan as his wife-by-Wiccan handfasting ceremony Patricia Kennealy is even more off the mark. The innately eccentric Crispin Glover as Andy Warhol is an interesting choice, and one that might have worked, if his hairpiece had only looked less like an Eva Gabor catalog accessory. The cinematography, as it is in most of Stone's films, is stunning, evoking other campy but beautiful road films like Easy Rider & Zabriskie Point.

Those who care enough about The Doors to inquire further are advised to read Danny Sugarman's biography "No One Here Gets Out Alive." As for Stone, 18 years later, he's still in a Tim Drummish/Peter Panish haze, and his penchant for action figurey…from entertainers to politicians….is strong as ever.
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A Terrible Depiction of Jim Morrison
napalm-69 January 2004
Oliver Stone enjoys making up fictional BS to make his movies more interesting. He did it with Nixon, he'll most likely do it with his upcoming Alexander the Great movie, and he most certainly did it with "The Doors."

First and foremost, Jim Morrison was a well-educated, intelligent, and very funny person who got along very well with almost everyone he encountered in his 27 short years of life (if he is in fact dead). Ray Manzarek, the real Doors keyboardist, said Oliver Stone twisted Morrison's image around, making it appear as though Morrison was a constantly drugged-out, crazy rock-n-roll jerk who loved two things: drugs and loose women. This is not the true Jim Morrison. The real man was, yes, an alcoholic who indeed had his way with many easy ladies, but he was so much more. He was the most revolutionary rockstar in history who paved the way for modern rockers and punks and rebels to act and portray themselves. And if anyone disagrees with me, I'd like them to prove me wrong. And not only that, Morrison was one of the most gifted poets in history, penning some of the best lyrics ever written. Finally, he was one hell of a good singer who, although he may not have had the best voice in music history, definitely had the greatest, most blood-curdling screams and rough, awesome voices.

In conclusion, Oliver Stone should have never made such a ridiculously terrible movie about my favorite band, and one of the best bands ever, The Doors.
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An absolutely flawless film and a great performance from Kilmer
pksky110 November 2002
This movie is certainly about The Doors, but really it is about Jim Morrison and his life. It starts with his youth and ends with his death. It is his biography. It is mostly loyal to Morrison's own viewpoint who obviously has a sympathizer in Oliver Stone, but nowhere does the film degenerate into an impressionistic fairy tale. It is very nearly a documentary except it is such an exceptionally well told story. Morrison himself had film making ambitions and this is explained in the film. Who knows, maybe Stone and Morrison crossed paths somewhere, but there is clearly a lot of work and care that goes into this film. There is a lot of respect.

Val Kilmer's portrayal of Jim Morrison is what really stands out the most. Anyone who has ever enjoyed the music of The Doors will be impressed by Kilmer and the rest of the cast who plays the band. The music and the shows that are portrayed are every bit as exciting as a real rock show. It is easy to believe that Kilmer can sing like Morrison. They really pull it off. Jim Morrison's life is shown very honestly, his drinking, his drugs, his bad behaviour are all there and anyone who knew those times themselves will have a shock of recognition.
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Stone infects The Doors...
morpheusatloppers4 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Oliver Stone's Vietnam War movies are supposed to be authentic - 'cos he was like, THERE, man.

And yet his biopic of The Doors portrays the incident where Ed Sullivan's minions ask Jim Morrison to change the word "higher" during his live performance of "Light My Fire", due to its drug connotations.

Jim agrees, but of course fails to do so. All true.

However, in Stone's film, Morrison looks rebelliously, nay PETULANTLY (Jim was NEVER petulant) into camera and SHOUTS the offending word. Very dramatic.

Except that I happen to HAVE the original Ed Sullivan Show performance on VT - and Jim sings the word with NO special emphasis whatsoever.

Which begs the question that if Olly couldn't stick to the (well known) facts with a biopic, what price the credibility of his Vietnam War movies?
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When Oliver Stone goes to hell Jim Morrison is gonna be waiting for him ready to kick his head in.
MarilynManson7 February 2000
I cannot put into words just how appalling this film is from the point of view of a lifelong Jim Morrison/Doors fan.

Firstly, after seeing the movie in full (I walked out of the cinema the first time I went to see it), I amazed as to how Ray M and John D had gotten involved in the movie when they themselves could see how fictional it was. But then again, Ray and John were always Judas's to Jim in life so why not in death....even their versions of history have been bent to paint themselves in a less heartless light in my opinion.

Val Kilmer...what can I say. The man is wooden at the best of times and he was diabolical as Jim. If you have to make a movie then Jason Patric would have made a FANTASTIC Jim.

Oliver Stone, known for portraying history in Stoneworld Vision, came at this subject from a sensational and almost entirely incorrect angle. As someone who knows a hell of a lot about the history of The Doors I can categorically say that 80% of this film was fiction, 15% was a grossly distorted version of true events and the other 5% was to some extent true. I also hate the way Stone makes composites of characters.

I think this could be justified by some people if it was actually a good film anyway but it just wasnt. I never felt for a second I was in the 60's, terrible wigs/false beards, the wardrobe was consistently poor, the script was dire, terrible casting (in particular Kevin Dillon, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer and what the hell was Billy Idol there for?) and the overall feel of the movie was all wrong.

However, Stone did pull some nice shots off from a cinematography point of view and there were some good choices of location. The score was obviously good (except when Val tried to sing) but that was to be expected surely.

He got the characters wrong, he got history TOTALLY wrong and he tried to ruin the memory of an intelligent man. He was only ever going to film Jim as The Lizard King but he didn't even get that bit right; Doors fans should know what I mean by that.

I hate this movie passionatly and could tolerate it if I thought it would help gain new fans of the music but I don't think it does.

If you want the real Jim Morrison/Doors then your best bet is to go read a book like Angels Dance and Angels Die or No-One Here Gets Out Alive (as flawed as that is).

Jim had a sense of humour but I bet it would be sorely tested by this pretentious, self serviant piece of fiction that dares to claim it is a rock documentary. I can only hope that when Stone meets Morrison in the next world Jim isn't too drunk to knock him out.
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To much mythologizing
adamsshane27 June 2009
I was totally disappointed by the factually inaccuracies in this movie. It seemed that things Jim Morrison has been quoted as saying during his life were added add hoc, in totally inappropriate and irrelevant times throughout the movie to make some sort of point or as fill INS which were at times laughable. For instance when the audience were singing along to his add libbing at the beginning of 'break on through' which became known as 'dead cats dead rats' we were lead to believe that this was a piece which had been performed many times before (untrue). It would have been better to focus on what was known to have genuinely occurred and toned down the circus monkey act for most of the second half of the movie to reveal to man behind the mask. Disappointing.
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A True Disservice
lettersnumbersperiods27 July 2010
You know, as dynamic and visceral a filmmaker as Oliver Stone can be, his deliberately subjective assessment of his subjects is not always appropriate. In the case of "The Doors", I will say that I find Stone's symbolic pulp imposition of 60's and 70's culture onto the titular individuals inappropriate at least, near slanderous at worst. Based on interviews, concert footage, essentially any real documentation of The Doors it is more than clear that these were articulate, talented and sensitive individuals...something almost at odds with Stone's bombastic and exploitative treatment (or perhaps his real perspective on the group). If Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek are considered peripheral players to the sensationalized events of the film, perhaps they should consider themselves lucky. Jim Morrison (played, albeit, with real intention and commitment by Val Kilmer) is made into a truly abhorrent caricature, devoid of all the subtlety and contradiction that made him a genuinely compelling performer and lyricist. The pathetic and near-transcendent humanity of Morrison in the midst of self-destruction and the complex interplay of the group's playing is completely overlooked by Stone in this film in favor of - what else- kinky sex, copious amounts of drugs and petty gestures of rock recreation. While the excess of this story may be real, the human was too.
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Oliver Stone Delivers Drug Addiction
knute12 April 2017
The Doors broke onto the scene in the late '60s with a "Carnival Music" sound. Jim Morrison takes you for a ride that could be your last. Follow the "Pied Piper" of Rock and Roll to your doom. The Merry go Round doesn't stop unless you can dislodge yourself and fly away. As Pamela Courson discovered the "Magic Ride" with Jim is short and addictively deadly.

The Doors reflected the constant Jungle Warfare in Viet Nam - "The End", "The Musics Over" and several other tunes drag you down into the depths of despair - showing endless war and strife. Jim and his massive alcohol and drug addiction "Lit His Fire" alright, along with countless other lost souls.

We survived the War and the Revolution and we're still here - we are the "Beautiful Friend" that Morrison sings about. Addiction took many of us and is still reaping it's deadly harvest. We were able to detach ourselves from Morrison and his Death Spiral - we survived to look back at his destruction along with those that followed him.

Oliver Stone showed the uncontrolled Jim Morrison and the destructive power he wielded. No one could stop or prevent the eventual outcome. I however lived to learn from this legendary "Pied Piper".
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The Doors: The Legend, The Music, and Mr. Mojo Risin'
officespace0007 January 2012
This movie captures the music, the look, and the overall of the Doors through their relatively short career. Oliver Stone is impeccably true to the music and the look - the musical instruments are perfect and authentic, from Ray Manzarek's Vox Organ to Robby Krieger's Gibson guitar.

Val Kilmer does an excellent job as Jim, as do the rest of the actors playing the Doors. The performances are believable and true to the essence of the band.

The film spends little time on the writing process, with the exception of a highlight of the film, which is the birth of "Light My Fire". The focus is more on the mythology on the band and on Jim himself, the Lizard King.

As a Doors' fan, I appreciated the film on many levels, and felt it really got the story right. If you're expecting a detailed biography of the band, you'll be disappointed. However, for an enjoyable story that includes the highlights of the Doors' career, and many of their hits, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Great film!
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