Am I a huge fan of this film? No. Do parts of it work? Yes. I felt intrigued and diverted during an initial screening. The early Doors music carried me along and the acid-tripping scene in the desert was quite the stand-out. Robert Richardson‘s cinematography accurately recreated the off-center, crystalline, almost spooky atmosphere that a psychedelic adventurer might visually encounter.
But overall the film seemed to weaken and even fall apart upon my second viewing.
The main reason is that I felt more and more alienated by Stone and Val Kilmer‘s portrayal of Jim Morrison as a coarse loutish type (party-animal, screamer, show-off, indelicate). To hear it from Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and others who knew Morrison well, there was a lot more to the guy than just climbing chain-link fences, whipping his schlong out during a concert or two and acting like a bellicose asshole.
For at least a three-year period (early ’65 to ‘early ’68) Morrison gave every indication of being a solemn poet and spiritual adventurer — a guy who had apparently tasted serious satori. Morrison’s song lyrics from that period clearly indicated he’d broken through to Aldous Huxley‘s “other side”. He was like a new Arthur Rimbaud.
Yes, Morrison allegedly became a dispirited, dissolute alcoholic during the last couple of years (the beard, the weight gain, Morrison Hotel, L.A. Woman, the final few months in Paris before his death at age 27) but I decided after my second viewing that Stone and Kilmer had blown it by dismissing the delicate threads in Morrison’s soul during that ’65 to early ’68 period. Stone encouraged Kilmer to act the part of a rock ‘n’ roll animal and he certainly nailed that aspect, but in so doing they made Morrison into a tiresome figure.
The 4K Bluray is roughly three minutes shorter than the 140-minute theatrical version. Stone has explained that he “made one three-minute cut to a scene I thought was superfluous to the ending, which helps close out the film in a more powerful way.”
The four-disc package contains both versions, deleted scenes, Stone’s audio commentary track and three docs — “Jim Morrison: A Poet in Paris” (53 minutes) which examines Morrison’s life in Paris and the mystery surrounding his death, “The Road to Excess”, (39 minutes) which explains the making of the film, and “The Doors in LA” (19 and 1/2 minutes), a recap of the formation and rise of The Doors in ’65 and ’66.
The main enhancement, it seems, is a new Dolby Atmos sound mix. “I wanted the [concert scenes] to be as immersive as possible to a real ’60s Doors experience,” Stone has said.