An ordinary film with one extraordinary performance
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.
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One brilliant film!.
The definative rock bio (and that's NOT a complement)
Rock bios. Is there anything sillier? Sometimes they can be okay,
but normally, they're just sleazified accounts of our heros (or
anti-heros) which are so very boring. The pacing is usually
sluggish and the characters have diolauge that sucks. This is the
film that has all of those bad points, but also many of the good
traits (although, I can't remember any esoteric jokes for Doors fans
like the film BACKBEAT had for Beatles fans, like using song titles
in the diolauge).
One of the first things to note is that the second-highest billing
goes to a character who didn't exist! Patricia, is simply a
composite character invented to shorten the economy of
characters yet still tell famous tales of Morrison's life. I didn't like
this character and, while I don't know whether Morrison ever did try
and convince a girlfriend to have an abortion, I sure didn't think it
was a cool scene. I'll return to the bad in a little bit.
On the other hand, the cast of a rock bio is almost always good.
Val Kilmer is fabulous as the Lizard King. The whole band seems
accurate, except Kevin Dillon seems somewhat cockier than John
Densmore ever did in real life. Meg Ryan was probably pretty
accurate as Pamela, and Crispin Glover is great as Andy Warhol.
The music is, of course, excellent, although a friend of mine has
the album and if they were going to use a Velvet Underground
song on it, they should have put more artists on it for consistancy's
sake or take theirs off and have an all Doors affair.
Back to the bad. Not only is the Patricia character little more than
an on switch for bad Morrison (or, rather, particularly bad
Morrison), she also messes up the relationship between Jimbo
and Pam Courson. Did he really need two love interests?
Usually, filmmakers ignore infedelities and make the guy's chick
his one-and-only. Why go to the trouble of creating someone
As for the diolauge. Yes, the diolauge ALWAYS sucks in biopics,
especially rock biopics, especially this one! Nothing slows down
the pacing of a film like exposition, but this one is a nightmeare in
that regard! Take the scene where Krieger presents "Light My Fire"
and they improve upon it. It's as if they read a brief discription of
what everyone did and recited what they're supposed to do and
tried adding a modicum of non squiter to cover it up. It's just
labored exposition that doesn't sound like things people would
Now, Manzarek and Morrison meet, obviously, in a film class. The
way it's portrayed, Morrison makes a bizzare and depressing film
about NAZIs and other nonsense. According to Manzarek's book
LIGHT MY FIRE, it was nothing like that. Indeed, Morrison is
notorious for his horrible antics, but the film makes him out to be
essentially pure evil. It portrays Morrison as having no redeeming
value. He's basically portrayed as a pied piper of horror and
misery and people either react to him in disgust, use him to further
themselves (Warhol, the briefly-seen photographer, the patricia
monstrosity) or submit to him as if he's a high priest. Never has a
music bio been so condescending and yet so distrustful.
On many levels, this film is entertaining and competant. Even
exciting at times. But mostly, it's a depressing character
assassination. Stone is obviously fascinated by Morrison, but this
film plays almost more like a docudrama about a disease or serial
killer whose makers fall under a spell.
Stone's worst crime is that he didn't give us a film about someone
he admires, but someone he's obsessed with in a negative way.
He doesn't seem to like Morrison. It's as if he's afraid of