Hmm, I’m indeed late to this one- Oliver Stone’s The Doors dates back to 1991, between his Born on the Fourth of July and JFK, and it’s the lesser of the three by some margin. I really didn’t enjoy it- so much so that it actually bored me, and I’ve never been bored by an Oliver Stone film before. Well, there’s a first time for everything I guess.
Something was missing- the film really didn’t seem to show me anything new. Jim Morrison took a lot of drugs, drank a lot of alcohol, had a lot of sex, and died an early (if not really surprising, considering his lifestyle) death. I can’t say the film really explained much to me about the appeal of The Doors or their music, other than perhaps that it was of its time and you really had to be there. In that respect, the film does a reasonable job of recreating the ‘sixties and the mood of the times, but not in any way I hadn’t seen before. In anycase, I always felt the film was an unreliable narrator, in a sense that I don’t think it ever got me inside Morrison’s head, that I never really understood him or where he was coming from, what he was doing. He took a lot of mind-altering substances and all the excess fucked him up, basically- but I knew all that before I saw the film, and I can’t say I was ever a fan of his music enough to really care.
It felt like the film was a failure, on Stones’ part. It didn’t really work, to me. Indeed, I’m surprised we never saw multiple subsequent cuts trying to fix it as Stone did with his Alexander years later, and that film was never, in any version, as messed up and broken as this one felt. Clearly I’ve therefore missed something because Stone was evidently happy enough with it to live well alone.
But yes, something was missing for me- we’ve seen stories of these self-destructive, narcissistic superstars before – perhaps the point of the film was that, in this respect, Jim Morrison was the Real Deal, while most pop stars only play the part. But the film didn’t explain why he was that way, what made him. As a child he witnessed some car crash in the desert that in some way impressed him or marked him- but beyond that ‘revelation’ what really explains it? And was that a fiction of the films unreliable narrator or was it something that Morrison himself revealed? I don’t know. Whatever Stone was trying to achieve, it didn’t work for me, and all the odd ghostly reprises of Native Americans from his childhood experience just seemed clumsy and forced. Not Oliver Stone’s finest hour in my book, and not a film I’m ever likely to rewatch.