Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: J. Randall Johnson & Oliver Stone
Ten years ago this was one of my favorite movies and I watched it all the time. In hindsight, that was probably part of my problem in my late teens. I haven’t seen this movie in several years since I took a ride with it and it led me to a dark place. This is a great movie made by a guy that was really really high when he put his vision together. You can be stone cold sober and still feel like you are tripping when you watch this movie, but that’s part of what makes it exceptional. The soundtrack is also noteworthy. I am still a fan of The Doors and their music plays throughout the entire film.
Oliver Stone has always been one of my favorite directors and he made many great movies in the 80s and 90s. Stone has never been any stranger to drug use and I think that is more than obvious in nearly all of his films. Even in the beginning of his career he was writing the screenplay for Scarface and basing it partly on his own personal experiences. He was getting really high while making his Academy Award winning film Platoon, also based in part on personal experiences in the war. He has been busted numerous times over the years for using drugs as well. I don’t think there is really any problem with an artist finding his creative motivation with drugs though, especially if he is making something great. I do think he made something great with this film too, but at the same time I must admit it didn’t do me any favors in my youth and I consider it a disruptive influence for anybody young.
Stone was a fan of The Doors and he put a lot of effort into this film. He did a lot of research when writing but took many liberties with the story nonetheless. Stone does that; he makes an effort to tell the truth but inevitably deviates from the plan in order to tell the story he wants to tell. Jim Morrison‘s real life girlfriend Patricia Kennealy served as an advisor on the film and even played a small part as the priestess in the Wiccan wedding ceremony. Yet she still had a problem with her portrayal in the film and Stone later admitted that he wrote her as a combination of many women and should have renamed the character.
Stone was initially reluctant to cast Val Kilmer in the role of Jim Morrison. Kilmer was persistent in his efforts to get the role and personally financed the recording of him singing songs by The Doors. He played a tape for Stone saying that some of the songs were him and some were Morrison singing. When Stone couldn’t tell them apart Kilmer got the job and what a job he did. This is easily one of the best performances of Kilmer’s career and he did a great job of looking and sounding just like Jim Morrison. Meg Ryan may have had the leading female role but I actually think Kathleen Quinlan played a better and more significant part. The film also has a great supporting cast including Michael Madsen, Kevin Dillon, and Michael Wincott.
I don’t watch movies about musicians and bands very often because they all seem to tell the same story. The musicians that get films made about them are all self-destructive and arrogant people that don’t look so good in the feature. I’m thinking mainly about Johnny Cash and Ray Charles in addition to this film about Jim Morrison. These men were all heavy drug users who took advantage of others around them and I think the movies about them actually tarnish their memory instead of honoring it. I don’t like watching films that I feel like I have seen before so I specifically didn’t like Ray or Walk the Line. I’m afraid I only have room for one film about a self-absorbed and out-of-control musician in our collection and this is the one that got my attention early. It has ruined me on all the other films like it.
This is a great movie but it does drag out a bit too long at two hours and twenty minutes. There are only so much drugs and alcohol you can watch Morrison ingest during that time and it gets to be too much at times. If you are a fan of the music made by The Doors then you should definitely see this film because most of their best songs are played. Otherwise I don’t know that there is much point to seeing this film. I think it’s a good one and I still like it but it is only in our collection as a relic from our youth. This one takes us back and reminds us of times when we lived a wilder life but we are different people today. So I will only tentatively recommend this film and warn you of its well deserved R rating, this film is good but buyers beware.
Gah, I don’t want to even write about this movie. It takes me back to college and the days I don’t talk about anymore because, well I am a mother now and moms don’t talk about their crazy college days. This movie is by the great Oliver Stone, and I am sure Ryan expressed his undying love for above. It is beautifully made and captures a time in history of chaos while following the life of Jim Morrision. I love the way they played the music throughout the film. It had all of the iconic songs and more of the ones you know if you are a Doors fan. This is a really cool movie, and it was obviously made for people who are on drugs. It is really trippy, just like the time, the person and the music.
NEXT MOVIE: Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)