The Doors (1991)
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Written by: Oliver Stone, Randall Jahnson
Starring: Billy Idol, Frank Whaley, Kathleen Quinlan, Kevin Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan, Meg Ryan, Michael Madsen, Michael Wincott, Val Kilmer
THE DOORS (1991)
Directed by Oliver Stone
There are things known, and things unknown, and in between are the doors.
THE DOORS chronicles the birth and rise of the titular band, predominantly focusing on the band’s singer Jim Morrison, from his early days as a film student to his death in Paris in 1971.
One of my all-time favourite directors, Oliver Stone, helms this semi-fictionalised narrative of the life of American poet Jim Morrison, inspired by fact, and his life as a rock star fronting the amazing proto-prog blues-rock band, The Doors.
Whilst some liberties have been taken with the story, as Ray Manazrek and the rest of the band have said in interviews over the years, THE DOORS does feature numerous notable moments in the band’s history, like when Jim refused to substitute “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” in the track Light My Fire with “Girl we can’t get much better”, be it intentionally or not. A photo shoot scene, where Jim is encouraged to pose for the camera by his photographer, almost replicates exactly the iconic image of Morrison used on the back of his An American Prayer album.
As a huge fan of The Doors, I couldn’t be any happier with the way in which Oliver Stone has shot the film. His triumph is the stellar cast who convince as the band, managers and personalities in and around The Doors during the 60’s. Val Kilmer stars as the talented singer, Jim Morrison, who’s appearance bears more than a resemblance to the iconic frontman. Val’s voice is what impresses more than anything, with it sounds not that far off from Jim’s, and with the surviving The Doors musicians at the time commenting on how they were unable to differentiate it from Morrison’s. Val actually sings Jim’s parts during the movie and performs mesmerising renditions of hits including Break on Through, The End, Touch Me, The Soft Parade and many more. Matt Dillon’s brother, Kevin Dillon, who also starred as nutcase Bunny in Oliver Stone’s Platoon, stars as The Doors’ drummer, John Densmore. Frank Whaley plays the talented Doors guitarist, Robby Krieger, whilst Kyle MacLachlan hits those famous notes as keyboard player Ray Manzarek. Kathleen Quinlan (Event Horizon) stars as Patricia Kennealy, a lover of Jim’s who’s introduced to him when she interviews the band during their promotional tour. Meg Ryan stars as Jim’s longtime girlfriend, Pam, who has to put up with Morrison’s philandering ways, though knows deep down that she is the only one who knows what he is: he isn’t a rock star, but a poet. The film even includes a memorable cameo by Crispin Glover as artist Andy Warhol, who Jim meets at a party and is given a gold telephone by to “talk to God” with.
Surreal in parts, The Doors feels like a complete journey. Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison is our constant, and the film revolves around him more than it does the rest of The Doors. Stone has done well to tell an entire tale, from the humble start of The Doors in California on a beach, with Morrison reciting his lyrics, of what would be later known as Moonlight Drive, to Manzarek, to the troubled later stages of the band’s life, where Morrison would be plagued by hanger-ons, portrayed by Michael Madsen and Billy Idol amongst others. The film even details The Doors final gig and studio meeting, after which Morrison relocated to France where he’d live out the rest of his short life.
With the sights and sounds recreating what it would have been like as a rock musician during the 60’s, THE DOORS is a thrill to watch, regardless if you’re a fan of the band or not. If you are a fan, you’ll more than likely really enjoy this movie which I personally think does the band proud, as well as serving as a cautionary tale of the perils of fame and the effects it can have on a person.