Blu-ray review: “The Doors” (1991)

“The Doors” (1991)

Drama

Running time: 141 minutes

Written by: J. Randal Johnson and Oliver Stone

Directed by: Oliver Stone

Featuring:  Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan, Frank Whaley. ] Kevin Dillon and Kathleen Quinlan

Ray Manzarek: “I feel the universe functioning perfectly but I’m still perfectly locked inside myself. Instead of oneness, I feel isolation.”

Released recently on blu-ray and dvd is a new cut of Oliver Stones semi-biopic “The Doors” (1991) which charts the success of the eponymously titled band through to the death of frontman Jim Morrison. It can be difficult to place some films within the time they were made as well as the filmmakers own over, the same can be said of this film as it was made in a time where there was a resurgence in the movie as spectacle as well as where co-writer and director Oliver Stones own career has been and was heading towards. Stone during the 1980s had a great run, he had told stories that were close to his heart and with this film, “The Doors” he again wanted to explore a subject that he felt had been misunderstood, this was also the point where he started to experiment with his own style which would culminate with the serial killer movie “Natural Born Killers” (1994), it would also mark the beginning of his unevenness in terms of is role as a writer/director.

The film opens during the recording of Jim’s ‘An American Prayer’ and quickly moves to a childhood memory of his family driving along a desert highway in 1949, where a young Jim sees an elderly Native American dying by the roadside. In 1965, Jim arrives in California and is assimilated into the Venice Beach culture. During his tenure studying at UCLA, he meets his future girlfriend Pamela Courson, and meets Ray Manzarek for the first time, as well as Robby Krieger and John Densmore; who would found The Doors. The movie actually follows a fairly route music biopic and is largely concentrated on Morrison, as you would expect of a charismatic frontman, all these years later it may have been original to share some of the narrative with the rest if the band.

Whilst “The Doors” is filled with Oliver Stone regulars as well as big name actors the central performance by Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison is one of the best of his career, you can feel at times that he has become Morrison which is something he should be proud of. There are few times when an actor is given the chance to play the part of someone like Morrison and Kilmer is excellent, over the years his haunted looks and dialogue capture what it is like to listen to his music and that of the band.

Differences in theatrical cut and final cut

Comparison between the Final Cut and the Theatrical Version (both included on the German 4K Blu-ray by Arthaus / StudioCanal)

– One difference

– Runtime difference: 138.4 sec (= 2:18 min)

In addition to Extended Cuts and Director’s Cuts, there are also a number of examples of films for which a “Final Cut” has been added over the years – mostly because there had been several versions of the film before then. Examples of this include Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner where the situation is almost chaotic and Apocalypse Now, which will get another version in August 2019 after the already released Redux Version. Dust Devil is also available in several versions and since May 2019 it is also available in HD with the “Final Cut” in a Collector’s Edition that makes fans happy. Starting July 25, 2019, Oliver Stone’s 1991 music biopic The Doors will be added to this list, although there has only been one theatrical version so far.

Stone used the chance of the 4K restoration to remove a scene from the film that was considered unnecessary at the end. He stated: “I’ve made one cut of 3 minutes to a scene I thought was superfluous to the ending, which helps close out the film in a more powerful way.” This is the scene that takes place almost 10 minutes before the credits, in which Jim struts drunkenly on the hotel façade and is saved from possible suicide by Mrs. Pamela.

In fact, the scene slows the movie down a bit at this point and doesn’t contribute much to the character. That’s a quite justifiable attitude for the shorter “Final Cut”. But one way or another, the well-known theatrical version is also included on the UHD premiere. If you don’t want to do without it, you have the choice and otherwise there are actually no differences during the movie.

Timecodes are ordered as follows:
Final Cut 4K Blu-ray / Theatrical Cut 4K Blu-ray

122:51-122:53 / 122:51-125:11 

After Jim has noticed that he’s probably having a nervous breakdown, there’s a longer black screen in the final cut and it fades up again with the city shot during the day. 

Instead, the scene known from the theatrical version is missing, in which Jim is heavily intoxicated and staggers down on the facade. The camera team and the friends watch the scenery. Finally, Jim is caught up by Pamela and calmed down. Jim says a few kind words to her and then cries in her arms. From this shot, a soft fade is made over to the following scene in the city. 

Theatrical Version 138.4 sec (= 2:18 min) longer 

Extras

  • The Doors: The Final Cut (2160p, 138 min): This new alternate version removes a three-minute sequence towards the end so as to arrive at the conclusion sooner. 
  • Audio Commentary: Available only on the 141-minute theatrical cut of the film.
  • Oliver Stone Interview (2160p, 31 min): The director reminisces on the production and shares various memories, inspirations and aspirations for the film.
  • Interview (2160p, 18 min): Sound editor and mixer Lon Bender explains his process of adapting the original audio elements for the Dolby Atmos format.
  • Audio Commentary.
  • Jim Morrison: An American Poet in Paris(SD, 52 min).
  • The Road to Excess (SD, 38 min).
  • The Doors in L.A. (HD, 19 min).
  • Vintage Featurette (SD, 6 min).
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 44 min).
  • Trailers (SD, HD).

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