A man, burned by his fame.
This documentary is more about Jim Morrison (1943-1971), who died forty years ago in Paris than about The Doors. In the beginning of this documentary we see him hitchhiking. It could be theNevada desert. The heat is overwhelming. It refers to an car acccident Morrison witnessed when he was four years old.
We jump to the sixties, which begin with a shot, Dicillo says. Probably in the head of John F. Kennedy. The civil rights movement intensifies as does the Vietnam war. The counterculture is growing. Morrison, son of a navyofficer, reads literature, poetry and philosphy, is obsessed by Elvis and graduates from filmacademy, but has more affinity with the blues and acid.
He sings Moonligt Drive at Venice beach and starts the band, called after een phrase from William Blake in Heaven and Hell. ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.’
During the first gig in The Whisky a Go Go in L. A. in 1965 Morrsion is shy. He doesn’t dare to look at the audience and turns his back to them. Light my fire is a hit. Jim takes acid and gets out of his mind. He sings The end about and ended love affaire. He sings he wants to fuck his mother. His bandmates don’t understand him and the boss of the bar calls him a sick bastard.
The Doors record their first album, though, and break through with Light my fire. They perform in New York. Andy Warhol likes them and Morrison experiences a metamorphosis, but acid doesn’t make him feel at ease. Music is a strange phenomenon, he says, it leads away from reality. Eespecially their music without a bass player, with a gitarplayer who only uses his fingers, an organ that sounds like a carnival and Morrison who seems to be working high up on the trapeze, caught by his bandmates when he falls.
He is like an old shaman, innocent as profane, intelligent as dangerous. He seems to be born for the fame, that suddenly and intensely comes. In 1968 the show in the Singer Bowl gets interrupted, when someone throws a chair on the stage. We hear it was a boyfriend, who was jealous that Morrison made advances to his girlfriend. I’m a lizard king, he writes in a poem.
His behavior is unpredictable. The Doors get bad critics, but the audience loves him when he sings Hello, I love you.
The recording of Soft parade lasts eleven months, because Morrison is constantly drunk and high. Bandmate Ray first thinks that acid is the key to enlightment but later on he starts meditating and hated it that Morrison keeps on tripping. Morrison has doubts about his voice, but in april he becomes awarded as the vocal of the year. Sometimes drinking helps, but other times it doesn’t. He gets arrested after insulting a cop who saw him with a girl in a toilet. The Doors get a dirty, dangerous image. The fans come for the spectacle. In december they are called the U.S. Rolling Stones, but Morrison quits. His girlfriend Pamela wants him to write more poetry. He agrees that posing is insane, but it is not easy to leave the stage. When he returns there are confrontations with his bandmates and he feels alienated from his family. Pam sends him to a psychiatrist, but the treatment is limited to one visit. Obidience is suicide, Morrison says, after hearing a navy officer talking to his soldiers.
In september 1968 The Doors make a succesful tour through Europe, but the internal problems in the band lasts. Jim did not agree about using a song of theirs for a car commercial. His drinking habits drive a wedge between the bandmates. In the Hollywood Bowl Morrison seems distracted. At the beginning of the U.S. tour in Miami in 1969 Morrison misses his plane and the atmosphere is at tense. He collapses on the stage and after four songs the concert is over. He is accused of felony. Radiostations don’t broadcast their music anymore. In april Morrison surrenders to the FBI. He speaks about artistic freedom of expression, but he is found guilty. He can go home on bail but realises he is not invincible. A spasm of violence spreads out over the country. Marten Luther Kong, Robert Kennedy, Sharon Tate die, as Jimmy Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Morrison says violence belongs to the U.S. tradition. In the late seventies the dream ends. Nixon removes all hope for change.
An American prayer, a collection of Morrisons poems, is published in 1970, but the music still attracts him. With the album Morrison hotel the Doors go back to the blues. Morrison is using cocaine and the bandmates are angry with him. On his 27th birthday in december 1971 he records his poems. Pam discovers that he has contact with another woman. She wants him to concentrate on poetry. In april 1970 they leave for Paris. Morrison shaves his beard off and visits graveyard Père Lachaise. The doctor advises him to stop drinking because of his bad cough. In his notebook he writes parts of poems and lyrics. He want to go home but he is out of voice. He takes a bath and dies on the third of July 1971 in the tube. He was buried in Père Lachaise.
The war in Vietnam ends and so does the youth movement. But the protest was real, Dicillo says. Some say Morrison was a poet, crushed between heaven and hell, others that he was a rockstar, burned down by his fire. Dicillo says nothing can burn without a flame. That may be right but for me he was more like a man burned by his fame.
This documentary is less sentimental en overdramatized than the movie The Doors (1991) by Oliver Stone with Val Kilmer in a great role as Morrison. Oliver Stone focuses more on his relationship with Pamela and his love for Patricia, a journalist. He canonized Morrison. Maybe almost twenty years later, things are more in perspective, allthough the grave of Jim Morrison is still used for a pelgrimage.
Some poetry of Jim Morrison: http://www.huddersfield1.co.uk/poetry/morrisonpoetry.htm/