The movie “The Doors,” Directed by Oliver Stone, tells the story of the band for which the movie was titled, The Doors. The main focus of the movie is Jim Morrison, the lead singer and front man of The Doors. Val Kilmer, who bears a striking resemblance to the charismatic leading man of The Doors, plays Morrison. The other band members are keyboardist Ray Manzarek (Kyle MacLachlan), guitarist Robby Krieger (Frank Whaley), and drummer John Densmore (Kevin Dillon). The film begins with the creation of the band, which happened when Morrison read some of his first lyrics to Manzarek, who was blown away and suggested they start a rock band immediately. The film goes on to show The Doors’ five-year career of writing, recording, and performing their music. It focuses on Morrison’s life and response to fame. Morrison became a heavy drinker and drug user, and the film ended with his death of heart failure in 1971 at age 27. Pictured above is Morrison’s grave in Paris, France. As you can see it is covered in graffiti. Since he died people have been affectionately covering his grave with graffiti, empty bottles of alcohol, and flowers. If the movie portrayed Jim Morrison accurately, I believe that is what he would want his grave to look like.
The Doors were very influential to rock and roll in the 1960s. The band’s live performances were like none before them. Morrison’s antics on stage gave a new definition to the role of the lead singer of a rock and roll band. According to the band’s website, Morrison created “a new and deeper relationship between creators and audience. Refusing to be mere entertainers, the Los Angeles quartet relentlessly challenged, confronted and inspired their fans, leaping headfirst into the heart of darkness while other bands warbled about peace and love.”
The film portrayed The Doors’ performances as epic. Morrison often had thousands of fans begging him to sing as he serenaded them with poetry, and when the music kicked in and the band began to rock the crowd went wild. As shown in the video below, there is one scene in the movie where Morrison leaves the stage and enters a crowd that is on the verge of rioting. He continues singing “Break On Through” as he walks through the crowd with his adoring fans following him. This scene symbolizes how Morrison and The Doors had a tremendous connection with their fans, and shows an example of Morrison performing in a way that no other front man had before him.
The band epitomized the 1960s cultural movement known as the hippie movement, which was known for its values of free love and drug use. For instance, when they first began making music together, Morrison suggested to the rest of the band members that they go out in the desert and take peyote. They did this less for recreational reasons and more to expand their minds in order to help them write better lyrics. In one performance shown in the film, someone in the crowd threw a joint to Morrison. To the crowd’s delight, Morrison picked it up and smoked it. In one performance he bellowed to the crowd, “I’m gonna get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames” (The Doors, Oliver Stone). That statement and the other actions I just discussed all represent the hippie way of thinking, and show The Doors’ connection with the hippie movement.
(The Doors enjoy their peyote trip in the desert, as depicted by the film) The members of the hippie movement were primarily young people. Morrison and the rest of the band members were in their twenties, so they too were apart of the hippie movement. According to a Yahoo music blog, “Between 1962 and 1973, many politicians and government officials, such as the FBI, labeled America’s youth as ‘enemy number one’ and their cultural revolution as ‘beyond ideology.’” In the film Morrison was recognized by every young person on the street, and had thousands of young people cheered for him at all of his performances. I noticed in the film that despite all that attention, a lot of older people in the movie didn’t know who he was and sometimes showed disdain towards him. For example, Ed Sullivan didn’t know who The Doors were when they came to perform on his show. Also, two separate times throughout the film police officers did not recognize who he was when seeing him, even though he was one of the biggest stars in the world at the time. Morrison was also pepper sprayed before one of his performances by a police officer. I believe those are all examples of ways the film symbolizes The Doors’ connection with the youth of America and the hippie movement. The film is not a completely biased production towards the ideology that The Doors represent. The film depicts the members of The Doors at some of their most tumultuous moments. It also depicts Morrison at some of his darkest hours and weakest moments. As I mentioned before, Morrison was an alcoholic and abused drugs heavily. The film shows Morrison in some of his most violent binges. In one scene Morrison meets a woman who studies witchcraft, and together they drink each other’s blood in a cocaine fueled frenzy. In another scene Morrison sits on the ledge of a building, high above the ground, while drinking straight from a bottle of hard liquor. These scenes, among others, represent Morrison’s excess and the dangers associated with it. This represents how the hippie movement could be dangerous to its participants because the drugs they were using could be dangerous. I chose this film because I love the music of The Doors and I wanted to learn more about the band. Classic rock is one of my favorite genres of music, but all of that music has already been created and most of the bands that created it do not make music any more. For this reason, the classic rock bands that I listen to are different from the contemporary bands that I listen to. The bands I listen to that are currently making music are always getting interviewed for magazines, for websites, and are on television. This makes them very accessible to me. I feel less connected to the classic rock bands that I listen to, but I love their music no less. I enjoyed this film because it brought me closer to a band whose music I love, but previously knew little about because they made music before I was alive. If I were to do further research on The Doors, I would pay particular attention to the other three band members. Before seeing the film, I had no idea that all of the band members were involved in writing the lyrics. I had previously assumed that Jim Morrison wrote all the songs. I would like to know more about the collaborative song writing process that The Doors engaged in. One of my favorite songs by The Doors is “Light My Fire.” What I did not know about it is that it was written by the guitarist Robby Krieger. This makes me very interested in the band because while I am aware that many bands have multiple songwriters, I have never heard of a band in which every member contributes to writing lyrics. The video below represents Jim Morrison and The Doors’ poetic style, their connection with the audience, and also shows one of my favorite songs by The Doors, “Light My Fire.”