Is everybody in? Is everybody in? The movie’s about to begin. The subject for this examination is one you’ve hopefully seen before. Or else this reference will fall flat on the floor. A work some love and others abhor. A biopic of a man trying to wipe the perceptive door. Made with passion rooted in a foreign war, Oliver may just love the music score. But I digress. Allow me to arrange this mess. How much fact and how much fiction is there in Val’s rendition, and what of the depiction of the other? Though I do hate to ramble I couldn’t resist a poetic preamble. So like new wine dying on the vine let’s recline and explore the mind, of Jim from The Doors.
I have a love-hate relationship with this movie. Stone undeniably has an eye that can simultaneously capture reality and fantasy, interchanging perspectives and telling the personal truths of his characters. But these aren’t just characters. They are, were, real people, many of which saw the film and were able to point out the inaccuracies in the narrative. I think Ray, the real Ray not Agent Dale Cooper super undercover in a long blonde wig, said it best, “brilliantly filmed, although over-amped and sensationalistic,” which was the kindest quote I could find. He primarily slammed it over the depiction of Jim, a real friend who Ray had lost. And that’s where I’m at, trying to discern a fair opinion between the real story of a sensitive man who spiralled out of control whose work I personally admired, and the fairytale another fan told through beautiful long shots of the desert and animals, creative shots, and the fantastic acting from Val, Kyle, Meg, and the rest.
The structure is disjointed; starting in the recording room- or purgatory, with Jim doing his spoken word recordings that would post-mortem be compiled into An American Prayer. We then see Jim as a child witnessing the death of a Native American on the highway (something the real Jim references in a few of his songs) and thus beginning of his infatuation with the culture. We cut to his brief attendance at UCLA, we’re Film Jim quit at the first gleam of criticism whereas Real Jim graduated with a bachelor; this I think is where the disparity between reality and fantasy begins, early and subtle. It then follows The Doors rise and highlight. Ed Sullivan, the shot, that parties, Crispin Glover as Warhol, and Jim’s dead. The vast majority is a drug-fueled spiral of self-destruction. Stone’s idea of Morrison is passive and antagonistic; the type to throw a game board then accept the loss and having read bios by people that knew Morrison, I have grown a distaste for the film as the years go on.
The movie only focuses on his negative habits without taking the tie to let us see the lost child astounded by his surroundings that Jim was described to be; yes impetuous, and impulsive, and at times temperamental, but he had some humanity that the film, unfortunately, drops less than a quarter of the way through. I do recommend this film. I recommend it for its score, for its shots, and for the acting. I however take issue with the portrayal, nothing wrong with Val he did a wonderful job, the issue comes in the writing and the directing. Jim is made out to be a narcissist, vain beyond belief, and cowardly instead of a real, rounded, person.