DVD Review: The Doors (Blu-ray)

The Doors
Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kevin Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Madsen, Billy Idol, Kathleen Quinlan
Lions Gate Home Video
Release date: August 12, 2008

The Doors cuts a jagged swath through the life of singer Jim Morrison, one of the most charismatic and exciting figures in rock history. The film begins with Morrison’s arrival in California and explores his assimilation into the Venice Beach culture, his relationships with girlfriend Pamela Courson (Meg Ryan) and future bandmate Ray Manzarek (Kyle MacLachlan), and the origin of The Doors. As fame takes its toll, Morrison spirals downward into an inferno of drugs, alcohol, public obscenity, arrests, and depression. As director Oliver Stone puts it, during his insightful audio commentary, “Morrison was the poster child for a nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”

Throughout the film, aside from his usual entourage, Morrison is accompanied by a trio of virtual characters that abide in his psyche. The first character of Jim as a young boy (played by Stone’s own son) who’s life was altered forever by his witnessing of fatal car accident involving a family of Native Americans. The second character, the old Shaman who’s soul was believed by Morrison to have entered into his own being at the time of death and “Death” himself, the third character, who resembled a cross between a resident of Sodom or Gomorrah and a skinhead, seen frolicking at Morrison’s side inviting him to break on through to the other side.

The director’s commentary, Stone explains how he used a new technology, at the time, a small mobile crane, enabling him during vast concert scenes to capture the intimate and mesmerizing hold Morrison had over his adoring fans. Stone said he wanted these scenes to look as if they came right out of the Golden Calf scene in Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments and he did just that. With nudity added to the mix, the result was far more erotic and frenzied. Val Kilmer portrays The Lizard King with a raw sensuality and an uncanny likeness to Morrison in both his physical appearance and his haunting vocals.

In addition to the director’s commentary there are many more minutes of Blu-Ray special features including “The Doors in LA” documentary focusing on their early work in LA and the cultural impact on the city featuring new interviews with writer/director Oliver Stone. Another special feature, “Jim Morrison: An American Poet in Paris,” is a documentary that includes interviews by Stone of friends, fellow writers, and poets who were a part of Morrison’s life during his last days in Paris where he fled from a looming jail sentence to live out his days following in the footsteps of his literary idols of the French Romantic period.

Other interviews include discussions with the coroner who presided over the examination of Morrison’s body after his untimely death at age 27 and a witch who was in love with Morrison and introduced him to the “Dark Side.” There is also over forty minutes of deleted/extended scenes, all told making this an unforgettable viewing experience.

But wait, now add Blu-Ray 1080P 16X9-inch-wide screen, and 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio and voila! It doesn’t get any better than this. If any of you fellow home movie lovers are waiting for the right time to revamp your home entertainment systems, wait no longer. Break into your 401-Ks and break on through to the other side by investing in a decent Blu-Ray player (the cheapest ones will have you waiting forever in between features like Dial-up) and this movie will definitely get your “Mojo” working! All I can say is hooray for BluRay! It takes Home Entertainment to the next level.

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