died. That‘s why I emphasised her. that she was the one. the most important one.‘ ‘Oliver. . . has his own take on Morrison.‘ begins Jerry Hopkins. co-author of No One Here Gets ()ut Alive. cautiously. and he has a right to voice his feelings. His book has been the standard biography for eleven years. but it took rejections by 30 publishers and an overhaul by the band‘s former fan-mail handler Danny Sugerman to get into print after Hopkins was told that ‘Jim Morrison‘s time as a commercial product had come and gone‘. Whole scenes from it have been lifted for use in the film. but in securing the rights to use Pamela Courson‘s likeness (she is played by Meg Ryan in the film) and life story from her parents (a precaution rather than a legal necessity) a deal had to be struck that the screenplay would not be based on the book. which the Coursons. Hopkins explains. found ‘a vile. despicable rip-off. because their impression of what Pamela was differs significantly from the truth. The poor woman died a hooker on heroin. We didn‘t say that in the book. and I don‘t think she appears as any kind ofa terrible person in the book.‘ Perhaps not. but he seems unwittingly to add insult to injury by sticking to the surviving Doors' line that she wasn‘t the
.. zen. s
Morrison (Val Kilmer) dances with wolves
anchor to Morrison that Oliver Stone has made her out to be. ‘While I think she was important in Jim‘s life. I don‘t think she was thatimportant.‘
For the record. the Jim Morrison that Hopkins remembers ‘was charming and witty and intelligent and a gentleman. He was also a drunken asshole. but unfortunately what you get out of the film is
only the latter ofthat list.‘
“ man had
everscreamed like Jim Morrison. And no white man ever danced like Jim
You also get the feeling that he’s a man who fell to earth fully formed. Peyote experiments in the desert seem to have played a far larger part in forming his character than his itinerant military upbringing. which is mentioned only once. half-way through.
‘I think Oliver‘s entitled to his version. and
I'd really rather say positive things about the movie than negative. but I am concerned about the liberties he took with accuracy. The way he merged characters and ignored chronology and made up so many scenes out Ofblue sky bothers me as a journalist. I think Morrison‘s life was certainly dramatic enough without any need to fictionalise.‘
Without a doubt. Morrison‘s life was tortured by demons. but Stone has chosen an obvious and. dare I say. trendy way of showing it. using as the lynchpin ofthe film a formative moment in Young Jim‘s life. when his family come across a car crash in the desert which took the lives ofseveral native Americans. For the rest of his days. Morrison attested that the soul ofone of the dying Indians had entered his body. What a godsend to a filmmaker! Gloss over the difficult bits with a dose of the supernatural! The spirit forms of Indians crop up everywhere. appearing at pivotal moments in Morrison‘s life. dancing with him on stage in San Francisco. and. apparently. spurring him on to perform his celebrated ‘exposure‘ before a Miami audience.
Not to beat about the bush. this is sheer horseshit. a perfect example of how a bit of tantalising symbolism can obscure the character a film is meant to be illuminating.
The truth ofthe matter is that the Miami incident had less to do with spiritual possession than with a performance art group that Morrison had seen only days before his willy was allegedly waggled — a show that chimed with his disappointment with life as a performing seal. and his obsession with the ritual of public performance.
Morrison‘s appetite for books. in the film reduced to a quick pan across some paperback covers on a Venice Beach floor. was actually voracious. As a student. he had written a thesis putting forward the case that crowds. like individuals. had sexual neuroses. and tried to persuade three of his classmates to join him at a demonstration and attempt to influence the crowd‘s behaviour. In The Doors. he tested out his theories. shaped by Nietzsche. Artaud and his studies ofshamanistic rituals.
What happened at the chaotic concert in Miami can be traced right back to his pre-Doors studies. It was an intellectual exercise. albeit a drunken one. The trouble I is that Stone has gone halfway to l acknowledging this — he shows Morrison's boxer shorts poking above his waistband. implying that the whole ‘exposure‘ scam was a premeditated joke from start to finish — but still has the ghostly Indian apparently egging him on from the hereafter. Considering that Morrison cited Nietzsche's The Birth Of Tragedy as the essential book for anyone wanting to understand what he was about. Stone has buried the keys to understanding under a heap of mysticism.
‘I think it‘s a valid connection.’ contests Stone. who sees. or at least saw. the singer as ‘an avatar of higher consciousness‘. ‘because I think that Jim was truly in touch with the inner spirits and the spiritual forces. and he brought them into play with his concerts. I don‘t think he could have written the music and the poetry that he did without having I that awareness of another consciousness. No white man had ever screamed like Jim
The List 19 April v- 2 May 1991 13