01. How much of the movie is is true?
02. Throughout the movie, Val Kilmer is sitting in a studio reading poetry and talking. Was that created for the movie or were those Jim's words?
03. I heard that the sound engineer in those studio scenes was one of The Doors. Is this true? If so, which one?
04. Is the story about the dying Native Americans on the highway true?
05. Did Jim and Ray Manzarek actually form the band on the beach?
06. Did Jim really lie about his parents being dead? And why?
07. Was Pam a real person and if so, who exactly was she and how did she die?
08. Was Patricia Kennealy really Jim's girlfriend? Was she actually pregnant with Jim's baby?
09. The movie was vague about Jim's death. How exactly did he die?
10. At the end of the movie, there are scenes of Jim's grave. Is that real footage?
11. Did the movie give an honest portrayal of Jim or was it just Oliver Stone's take on the Jim?
12. Odd tidbits, quotes and obscure references
01. Actually, a lot of the movie is factual. Did Jim really see "a truck load of dead and dying Indians" when he was a child? Yes. Did The Doors play the Whiskey A-Go-Go and London Fog? Yes. Did Jim get arrested on stage in New Haven? Yes. Was he convicted of indencent exposure stemming from events at a Miami concert? Yes.
Most of the "big stuff" is real. It's the little things that were tweaked. For example, At the time, Vencie beach was deserted instead of being the happening spot that Oliver Stone shows it to be. He (Oliver) also shows and believes (he says so in the "extras" on the movie's dvd) that Jim dropped out of film school. Not true. Jim graduated, according to Ray Manzarek, with a degree in film from UCLA. As did Ray. But I'm aware that none of this is important in the large scheme of things and that the movie is a good study for fans of that era.
If you really want to know what I think of the film, check out #11.
02. Both. Most of it was written by the script writers but some were actually Jim words. The story goes, before Jim left for Paris, he sat down in the studio (on his birthday) to record some poetry he had written and to just generally opine. Oliver listened to these tapes and plucked out a few pearls for that sequence.
What's real and what isn't? I don't have ALL the info but it turns out that my three favorite dialogs from the movie just happened to have come directly from Jim's mouth. One is from those studio scenes. "I go out on stage and howl for the people. In me?...they see exactly what they want to see. Some say Lizard King...whatever that means. Or some black-clad leather demon...whatever that means. But really, I think of myself as a sensitive intelligent human being but with the soul of a clown that always forces me to blow it at the most crucial moment. I'm a fake hero. A joke the Gods played on me." That statement offers a lot of insight into Jim. Another thing Jim says at the end of the tape (I believe it was the last thing Jim said on the tapes) that Oliver included was,"Let's go get some tacos." Any person who has really studied The Doors knows that Jim is probably refering to the Lucky U cafe, a favorite of the band's that just happens to specialize in Mexican.
More quotes from those sequences:
"Let's just say I was testing the bounds of reality. That's all. I was curious."
"I kind of always preferred to be hated. Like Erich von Stroheim: the man you love to hate. It's meant to be ironic."
Also, Val Kilmer is wearing a shirt with the number 66 on it, as was Jim when the recording was made.
03. Indeed, the engineer in those scenes is John Densmore, The Doors' drummer. I'm not sure of the whole story but Oliver Stone thanks Densmore and his book, Riders On The Storm, in the movie's credits. Maybe this bit part was Oliver's "thank you".
04. Here is a quote from Jim:
"The first time I discovered death...me and my mother and father, and my grandmother and grandfather, were driving through the desert at dawn. A truckload of Indians had either hit another car or something- there were Indians scattered all over the highway, bleeding to death. I was just a kid, so I had to stay in the car while my father and grandfather went to check it out. I didn't see nothing- all I saw was funny red paint and people lying around, but I knew something was happening, because I could dig the vibrations of the people around me, and all of a sudden I realized that they didn't know what was happening any more than I did. That was the first time I tasted fear...and I do think, at that moment, the souls of those dead Indians- maybe one or two of them- were just running around, freaking out, and just landed in my soul, and I was like a sponge, ready to sit there and absorb it."
This is a quote from Jerry Hopkins' book The Lizard King - The Essential Jim Morrison:
"At the age of five, Jim was in a car traveling along a highway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe with his father and grandmother, Caroline. She told me, 'We came upon an accident. Indians were wailing and crying. Later, we thought that was very unusual, because we thought Indians didn't cry. We thought they were more stoic than that. Jimmy was very much affected. He wanted to do something. We stopped and then we went on to call the highway police and an ambulance. Jimmy wanted to do more. He was so upset, his father had to say, [Jimmy, you dreamed it. It didn't happen. It's not true, you just had a bad dream.]'"
05. Besides the small difference between reality and movie magic, that's pretty much the way it happened. The following is from Ray Manzarek's book, Light My Fire: My Life With The Doors. (Hang on kids. Ray is a tad verbose but I like his style and hated to cut anything out. I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend the book!)
The scene is Venice beach. Ray, the slacker that they all were, is working on his tan. Dorothy Fujikawa, Ray's girlfriend and future (and present) wife, is at work. Ray spots someone on the beach.
**And I see this guy, in semi-sihouette, wearing cutoffs, without a shirt, weighing about 135 pounds. ... I look again, with more intensity, and who should emerge from the light, from behind the sun, into my field field of vision, into my light of consciousness, but Jim Morrison!
"Hey, Jim. Hey...hey, Morrison," I called out. The figure stopped, looked in the direction of the call, and waved back.
"Hey, Ray," and he comes walking over to me, across the twenty-five to thirty feet of sand where I'm sitting off the shore break. And there, standing in front of me, is the new Blue God, my buddy Jim, tranformed. He looked great. He had lost all his baby plump. Dropped thirty pounds. Down from 165 to 135. His hair had grown out in soft ringlets and he looked not unlike Michelangelo's David. Even more like busts I have seen of Alexander the Great.
"What are you doing here, man?" I asked. "I thought you were going to New York City."
"Nah, I decided to stay here."
"Any particular reason?"
He shifted his weight and played Paul Newman in Hud.
"Seemed like a good idea at the time," he said, slyly grinning.
"Well, cool, man." I was happy to see him. "What you been up to?"
"Nothin' much" -now he was James Dean in Giant- "tryin' to stay out of trouble."
"Succeeding?" I asked.
"Unfortunately" -he shape-shifted again- "yeah." And he smiled that Stave McQueen in The Great Escape grin of his.
We laughed, easy in each other's company.
"I thought you let your apartment go. Where you living now?" I inquired.
"With Dennis Jacob."
"Dennis?!!" (A natorious UCLA Film School Nietzschean madman. ...) "You sleep in the same apartment with Dennis?!! How can you do it? Isn't he like...I mean...a slob?"
"I sleep up on the roof," Jim said, allaying my fears for his contamination. "I only go inside to take my meals. He's a pretty good cook."
"Christ, you'd never know it. A good cook, huh?"
"Yeah." He nodded. "Really." He grinned again. "Well, kind of." We laughed, looking out at the setting sun.
"What have you been doing, man?" I asked.
He said, "Nothing. What are you doing?"
"I'm not doing anything," I said. "I've been trying to figure out what to do."
He said to me, "Working on anything?"
"I've been thinking about some film scripts and stuff like that," I said. "What about you, you working on anything?"
"Yeah," he said. "I've been writing some songs."
And there is was! Just like that! ..."Songs, huh? ... You know what, sing me a song, man. Let me hear what you've been writing."
"Aw, Ray. I don't have much of a voice," Jim shyly responded.
"C'mon, Jim, of course you got a voice. Bob Dylan doesn't have a voice and look where he is." ... I continued encouraging him. "It's just you and me here and I'm not going to judge your singing voice. I just wanna hear your words and, you know, what you've got in your head." And then softly, "Go ahead, Jim."
Emboldened, he got up to his knees, faced me, and dug his hands into the sand. He came up with two handfuls and began to squeeze real tight. ...and he said, "Okay. Here's one I have. It's called 'Moonlight Drive.'" And he closed his eyes and began to sing, sand still streaming, and I heard those words for the first time.**
I'm going to stop there because the scene continues on for another 4 or 5 pages. But if you want to know what happened, from someone who was actually there, READ THIS BOOK! Tons of great info about the early days, such as Jim's apartment and what it was like hanging out with a beat-type crowd at UCLA. Seriously..."Light My Fire My Life With The Doors by Ray Manzarek...read it=)
06. Yeah, he did. Check out his Elektra bio. (See the links on the left.) Why? No one knows exactly, probably least of all his parents, Steve and Clara Morrison, who are still living. This is an exerpt from Jerry Hopkins' The Lizard King: The Essential Jim Morrison
"Jim's dad's (Navel) assignment in Albuquerque had something to do with the atomic bomb. Steve was assigned to White Sands. It was all top secret and Jim's parents made a pact not to talk about his work at home, an agreement that remained in force for many years. Steve's cousin Thad Morrison told me that Jim ultimately came to resent the alienation that resulted from the long absences and the secrecy: 'I think the ultimate break between Jim and his father was over Steve's putting the Navy ahead of the family, which is what you had to do when were an officer.'
According to his brother Andy, it was the quasi-military way of disciplining the children that solidified the speration. Their parents had decided never to punish thier children physically, but to find another way. The way they picked was to 'dress them down' (a military phrase), to tell them what they had done wrong over and over again, until reducing them to tears. Andy told me that he always cried, but Jim learned to hold back tears. Today, such practices are generally regarded as emotionaly abuse, which can in their way be as damaging as physical punishment."
So there are a couple of possible motivations for his statements.
07. The character of Pam, played by Meg Ryan, is based on real life's Pamela Courson/Pamela Morrison. (Some people refered to her as Jim's common-law wife, therefore, give her his last name. While I in no way doubt their relationship or affection towards each other, I've read nothing that lends credence to them having a common-law marriage.) You can check out some pictures of her and Jim together here...Pam was very much real.
According to a conversation the surviving members of the band had on the audio commentary for "The Doors Collection" dvd, transcripts that Oliver Stone refered to on his commentary for the movie and Jerry Hoopkins' book The Lizard King: The Essential Jim Morrison, Pam could be just as wild and out of control as Jim. Most people also say that there were two sides to Pam. One side was the pyschedelic drug taking, yelling screaming fighting, heroin shooting mess. The other side was the young daughter of an Orange county high school principal with red hair and sweet little freckles. This side of Pam wanted all the traditional trappings of a normal life. She was a domestic maternal person without the domesticity of a husband, kids and life in suburbia. But many believe that, even though Jim was in no way, shape or form faithful to her, she tried to be a stablizing force in his life. That he needed that from her. He called her his "cosmic mate".
How did she die? Well, the simple story is that she died of a heroin overdose. After Jim died and she returned from Paris, she never recovered from his death and ended up, by many accounts, prostituting herself to feed her smack habit. It caught up with her and she was found dead in her apartment three years after Jim.
More can be found about the role that Pam played in Jim's life and death in the Strange Death section.
08. According to Patricia Kennealy's book, Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison, both are true. I'm going to be paraphrasing here... Patricia had seen The Doors perform long before she met Jim. One thing she said struck me funny... She said that she was intrigued by him from the beginning but that she wasn't attracted to him, per se, until he aged and put on a little weight. That she was not into androgyny. (For the record, that's probably only funny to me.)
Patricia was working for Jazz & Pop Magazine in January 1969 when she spoke to Jim for the first time. She was in New York's Plaza Hotel, where The Doors were staying, to do an interview with the band; as were several other reporters. (Think of the movie scene when they first meet. It wasn't that formal but there were many reporters. If you want all the juicy details, read her book. It's great!) They connected on the phone and then she goes up to his suite to do the interview. When they shook hands, sparks flew...literally. When their hands touched, they both got an electric shock from it. Jim said to her, "a portent". (A portent is a sign of things to come.) He just sort of looked at her and then asked, "What are you?" She said, "I'm a witch." And then things took off from there.
Now about the pregnancy, Patricia says that when she told Jim about it his response was that that was actually the first time that situation had occurred. (Meaning...that he had never gotten another woman pregnant.) Oliver Stone says that there are several abortion accounts by other woman. Who knows. But Patricia did have an abortion during the period of the Miami trial. On the movie's dvd feature she says, "It was something that had to be dealt with. There was a time factor. Neither of us wanted to have a kid."
The "Patricia Kennealy" that Kathleen Quinlin played in the movie is an amalgamation of many different woman. Oliver said that in hindsight he should have used a fictional name for that character, being that Patricia's name was used therefore all the actions of that character are attributed to her. Example: She and Jim did not drink blood together. So if this wasn't enough for her to dislike Oliver Stone... When speaking of the way he had Jim (Val Kilmer) react to the news of her (Kathleen Quinlin) being pregnant, Patricia said, "It was not the way it was depicted in the movie. Which is another thing I'm never going to forgive Oliver Stone for. He had the makings of a scene that was pure Greek tragedy and, for reasons of his own, he turned it into cheap farce." And when it came to Jim (Val) saying that becoming hand-fasted (Wiccan marriage) to her seemed like a fun thing to do because he had been stoned at the time, she say, "You have no idea how hurtful it was to be sitting in the movie theater and listening to that line coming out of Val Kilmer's mouth and hearing people laugh."
In 1979, she legally changed the spelling of her name from "Kennely" to "Kennealy" for ease of pronunciation and in homage of her Celtic heritage. At that time, she also legally assumed the name "Morrison", making her name Patricia Kennealy-Morrison. Although, she says that she had privately adopted Jim's last name on June 24, 1970, the day of their hand-fasting ceremony.
Patricia is alive and well and has become an author of fiction.
09. No one knows. The movie simply says that he "was said to have died of heart failure", which is actually all that we know. But, of course, I have my theories. And boy, do theories abound! Check out Strange Death for more detail about Jim's life and death in Paris.
10. Absolutely. Jim is buried (if you subscribe to the "death" theory) at a very large beautiful French cemetary, Pere Lachaise. He told a friend just a week or two before he died that he wanted to be buried there. It's somewhat unusual that he was allowed to be interred there, being that the cemetary is a national monument and he's not French. The cemetary houses Chopin, Moliere, Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison. ??? But, at any rate, the footage is real. The bust has long since been stolen and Jim's is the only site to be under a permenant security watch, hopefully to deter idiots from defacing other peoples tombs. (But you can still get close, take pictures, and leave flowers, candles, whiskey, etc..) Jim's parents replaced the stolen bust with a theft-proof marker several years back.
Jim Morrison's grave is Paris' 3rd largest tourist attraction. It pulls a larger crowd that Notre Dame.
11. Let me put it this way...I think the movie is Oliver's acurate but obtuse take on Jim Morrison's life. I'll let the people who knew Jim best (Oliver Stone, Val Kilmer & Frank Whaley also) tell you what they think. These are dialogs from "Road of Excess", a documentary on the movies dvd. I've typed them out as they are spoken by the different folks.
Patricia Kennealy: "Jim's not in that movie. The man I love is not in that movie."
Oliver Stone: "It's fascinating because he was versatile and he led many different lives. Which is what people forget. They all think that they own Jim Morrison. They don't."
Robby Krieger: "It didn't really show, the um, you know, all sides of Jim. It only showed the wild crazy side."
PK: "I'm not saying that stuff didn't happen. I'm just saying that that's not ALL that happened."
OS: "I based most of my input on the transcripts." ("The transcripts" are all the info and interviews taken by Jerry Hopkins, who wrote the first [and in my opinion, the best] bio on Jim, The Lizard King: The Essential Jim Morrison.) "And the transcripts reveal to me a very strong truth. Because when you have 160 transcripts, from people who were interviewed under serperate circumstances, you start to form an opinion of the central man."
Richard Rotowski (played the character of "Death" and knew Jim personally): "I feel like Oliver gave a very truthful view of Jim. It wasn't the whole spectrum because obviously you can't do that in a 2 or 3 hour movie."
RK: "It didn't show why, why is it that everybody who ever met Jim was so impressed with him that they thought that Jim was their best friend."
PK: "Jim had one of those gifts that very few people have of making you feel like of are the most important person in the world." RR: "The part about him that most people never really got was how geniune and sweet and innocent he was."
PK: "Jim Morrison was a beautiful, vulnerable, shy, loving soul with a gallant heart and a tremendous sense of the absurd."
RK: "This image was created around him which, you know, he, ah, he finally thought and realized was not him. And only because he changed so quickly, you know. That was his image for a while but then he wanted to do something else so he destroyed that image."
Val Kilmer (Jim Morrison): "His whole life was a suicide...Long epitath he was writing. Big big puzzle. Poem for his folks. He was most successful and the truest in his living. Better, better, better piece of poetry than he ever wrote."
RR: "Jim's whole life was sort of a meteoric tragedy. I don't know how happy he ever was."
OS: "I thought that he suffered enormously. And I think he was suffering in his poems and his songs. So death was a release from this burden. And I think Jim was sufficiently cognizant of reincarnation as a theme. And that he talked about it enough. He realized that were just passing through and this is an illusion. 'The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom'. This is a key thought. And I think this motivates much of Jim's behavior, if not all of it. And I think that at the end of the day, Jim Morrison is a far wiser person for having undertaken the edge of the envelope, the journey that he did."
RR: "That was one of the main themes in his work. The whole Dionysian idea of really getting in touch with your unconscious."
VK: "I would like to think that if he'd picked different heros he would have had a bit more rigor and disciple about what being creative means."
OS: "Jim was considered by many to be too tough, too primitive, too uninhibited. A bit like what, you know, I'm not trying to compare myself, but I do inevitably, a bit like what my films were judged as primitive and in-your-face."
RK: "Jim had a quality about him that, where he could make people feel uncomfortable. And he liked doing it."
RR: "He could cut you. ...It's a kind of impatience, in a way, that comes with genius."
OS: "He insulted the crowd because he saw them as a fascist crowd. He said you people will always worship power. You will worship the loudest, the strongest, the most public. You will worship he who tells you to worship. That's what's he was basiclly saying. He would take out his c*ck and, I could pee on you and you would love it. You know what I mean? It's like, he was trying, like I was trying to do with Natural Born Killers. He was trying to show back what they were doing. And he was misunderstood. And found to be gross."
Frank Whaley (Robby Krieger): "The way I look at the way Morrison is played in the film is a guy who could've had everything and pushed it away. And self destructed and did bad things to himself. And did bad things to people around him and people who loved him."
VK: "He lacked the courage to do that. Love is the hardest thing to do. For some perverted reason we teach and convince ourselves that it's somehow pastel colored and flowers are involved. Love is about blood and it hurts. It's black and gray and dirty and hard. And he had a real copacity for it. And no one ever taught him. And he didn't get on a train that ever made those stops where he could even look at it and, in a way, where he could do something about it. I like to believe--I'm romantic--that had he lived, he would've come to that conclusion."
PK: "Read all the books. See the movie. Draw your own conclusions. That, I think, is the truest picture of Jim you'll be able to come up with. And...that I think is what would please him best."
RK: "He was just an amazing person, you know. He was THE most influential person in my life."
OS: "It was a beautiful experience for me. Perhaps I didn't capture the way that Jim really was. I don't konw. But I loved Jim. I never, never doubted him. I loved him. I feel good about him. I miss him. I miss him very much."
12. These are a few items of info that most people probably don't know so I thought I'd pass along:
Do you remember the "Warhol party" scene? Well, there are several interesting things going on there. Firstly, if you don't know anything about Andy Warhol and you like weirdness, you should check him out.
There are a few things that Oliver Stone did well and the "Warhol Party" is one of them. Andy threw tons of parties and, according to the guests, the movie was very much in keeping with reality. Lots of people. Lots of celebrities. Lots of alcohol and drugs.
In the opening moments of this scene, a blond is smoking and dancing in front of the giant picture of "death" on the wall. This girl is Edie Sedgwick who starred in Warhol's, among others, "Vinyl" and "Kitchen" and was the inspiration for The Cult's song "Edie". (She died in 1971.) In the movie, Edie and Jim kiss. This isn't just thrown in randomly. There were several reports that Jim and Edie had, in fact, "hooked up" on an occasion or two. She actress that played her bares an uncanny likeness to Edie herself.
As Jim walks through the party, Pam introduces him to Tom Baker, a man with which Jim will become friends, and is continually seen throughout the movie. Tom was in Andy's film, I a Man. On this occasion (the factual party that Morrison did attend and was introduced to Baker), Warhol convinces Jim to be in one of his films with Tom. Jim is seems more than willing but everytime they try to get together to do some actual filming, Jim is a no-show. Why? Only Jim knows. Needless to say, the film was never made.
In the same scene that Pam introduces Jim to Tom, she also introduces Jim to the Count. As to if this actually happened at the party, I'm not sure. But the Count was real. And Pam's relationship with him was real. He and Marianne Faithfull were supposedly some of the firsts to know about Jim's death. One story being that Pam called him immediately following and the other that Jim's smack dealer was also Marianne Faithfull's, and that the dealer told them. (Now, don't try to start debating what did and didn't happen in Paris right now. EVERYTHING about Paris is highly debatable. We can get into that later!) I believe I read that the Count died of a heroin overdose. If you know this to be wrong, please let me know. I can't relocate my source.
Tom Baker is shown introducing Jim to Nico, the blond fur-wrapped temptress with the vodka that Jim downs. This isn't where or how they met. The song that is playing in the background is, appropriately, "Heroin" by the Velvet Underground and features Nico. Doing what? I'm not sure she does anything on that particular song. She was supposed to be the lead singer, a destinction that was obviously Lou Reed's, but only sang a handful of songs on the album. At one point, she cut her blonde hair and dyed it dark red because she thought Jim might like her more. (Pam's hair was red.) "I was so in love with him that I made my hair red after a while. I wanted to please his taste. It was silly, wasn't it, like a teenager." She was a German who had what some described as a deapan monotonous voice, made a few go-nowhere movies and, at near 6 feet tall, was a striking model. According to swinginchicks.com, "in '67 she met Jim Morrison at the Castle Hotel in L.A., a meeting described by witness Paul Rothchild: 'He took Nico up in a tower, both naked, and Jim, stoned out of his mind, walked along the edge of the parapet. Hundreds of feet down. Here's this rock star at the peak of his career risking his life to prove to this girl that life is nothing.' They got into a fight, described by witness Danny Fields as 'him pulling her hair all over the place -- it was just this weird love-making, between the two most adorable monsters, each one trying to be more poetic than the other.' Obessed with Jim, she called him her 'soul brother'." At any rate, Nico spent the rest of her life fighting her heroin addiction and trying to create a successful solo singing career. In 1988, she was killed in Spain during a bicycling accident.
Now, there's this tiny scene where Jim and another guy, who is dressed almost indentically, circle each other. Taking in each other's likeness. This did happen at that party. Jim shows up wearing what's depicted in the movie, his leathers and a black shirt, only to find another guy wearing the same outfit with the same shaggy hair cut. They circle each other and Jim laughs, saying "pretty good--pretty neat". The other guy walked away saying that Morrison stole his look. It happend exactly the way it was shown. A testament to Stone's anal retintiveness.
Okay, to wrap up the Warhol party, I thought you might enjoying knowing who it is that plays Andy. If you don't already know, you'll probably be as shocked as I was. The man playing Andy Warhol is Crispin Glover. But you most likely know him best as George McFly, the father in the Back to the Future series.
"There are things known and things unknown and in between are The Doors..."