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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Doors

The dark side of the 1960s

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

March 11, 1991 -- ``The Doors,''is about the popular 1960s group and more particularly the lead singer of the group, Jim Morrison. I got the feeling of being thrust back into the sixties when I saw this film the other night at the Wyo Theatre. I even smelled some pot smoke in the air.

The movie, directed by Oliver Stone (Casualties of War) is about the dark side of the sixties, perfectly embodied by the dark, sexual images of the Doors' music and Morrison's out-of-control self-destructive lifestyle.

The psychedelic images of simulated acid trips and peyote highs were also reminiscent of sixties film making. The whole style of the film seemed oddly anachronistic.

Although the photography was at times excellent the acting was fine and the soundtrack was terrific the film seemed overlong and out of date. I kept wondering if a 1991 approach might have given more of an insight into the sixties counter-culture than a sixties approach. A new approach might have better pointed up the ironies of the two periods. For instance, Morrison's arrest on obscenity charges seems a joke today in light of the exploits of 2 Live Crew and other groups.

Creating the film in the mold of the sixties might have also been a mistake in that many films of that type from the sixties are simply not that good. They don't stand the test of time and I don't think this one will, either.

For me, the sixties were good years and this film seems to capture none of that goodness, none of that naive conviction that love could change the world. Perhaps that is why I did not like this film.

One thing this film seems to have done is to rekindle interest in the Doors. Album sales are way up since the movie opened. They were a fine musical group. Their first album, particularly, is one of the finest and most distinctive of the period. Another thing about this movie is that it sticks with you and bothers you long after you leave the theater. This can be a positive or a negative experience. For me it was negative.

Morrison, it is argued, was a poet who was ill-suited to the life of a rock and roll star in the turbulent sixties. The question the film raises is whether Morrison was the victim of his own tormented inner struggles, or was he a victim of the sixties drug culture? According to the film alcoholism figured prominently in Morrison's personal and professional demise.

There is a lot of graphic sex, nudity, and obscene language in this film. Those who find this offensive for themselves or their children should avoid the film. For those of you who are too young to remember much about the sixties, or who think the sixties were largely a time of wasted efforts and passions, this film may have an entirely different impact on you than it did on me.

On a scale of one to 10 this film rates a six for being ambitious and partially successful.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)