It’s no secret to those who know me well that Jim Morrison is an obsession of mine, as well as an influence on my writing and art (see Linda + Jim Interview). My poetry chapbook, Dear Jim, is based on a poem that’s actually a letter to him, apologizing for my (then) crush on Russell Crowe. I created a piece of art with Jim’s image, Angel in Death, that was used in the indie film Celebrities in Disgrace. One of the characters in my novel is a Doors fanatic . . . and so it goes!
Anyway, last night, I watched When You’re Strange, and it left me feeling profoundly sad. The film was a documentary, and much more true to Jim, and to The Doors as a whole, than Oliver Stone’s disappointing film, and I am glad for that. The actual footage from Morrison’s experimental 1969 film “HWY: An American Pastoral” was absolutely surreal. I was most moved by the interviews with his Navy Admiral father, who seems to have missed the boat, so to speak, when it comes to understanding what his eldest son’s life was about, and his sister, Ann, who truly grieved the loss of her big brother. I was also pleased with the emphasis on his poetry, his first passion, and his friendship with beat poet Michael McClure.
I was touched at the end of this film, when the band and several other friends are on a sailboat, smiling, laughing and enjoying themselves, and Jim was sitting alone, staring off into the distance, as if he wasn’t an active participant in his own life. It was a difficult scene to watch. He was not a happy person.
The film left me unsettled and wanting more. Except for the unseen footage, the story is the same. Jim drank. Jim died. But maybe there isn’t any more.
If you’re interested in more about the film, there’s some terrific pics and comments on director Tom DiCillo’s website. And I guess that’s enough about Jim, already. It’s time for me to get back to my writing.