Articles and Essays
(This portion of the site contains informative articles, movie comparisons, and essays on the movie.)
Comparative Film: The Buddy Holly Story vs. The Doors
As a film biography, "The Buddy Holly Story" is both entertaining and surprising, while remaining true to the facts. Focusing on a young man's struggle to surpass various obstacles within his life, this movie displays how a virtually unheard of band was capable of introducing a new and unprecedented kind of music to the world, “Rock and Roll." Even though "The Buddy Holly Story" represents a very different time period in American history than Oliver Stone's movie "The Doors," both contain the basic theme of a band's fast rise to success. Nevertheless, Stone's film concentrates more on the tragic downfall of a legendary figure instead of the happiness a character encounters as does the director of "The Buddy Holly Story." While Jim Morrison and his band are experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs and rampant sexual encounters, Buddy Holy and his band are courting their wives and reminiscing of their families and their hometown. The similarities in each band's rise to success is apparent as they take many of the same steps up the ladder to success. However, the overall message of "The Buddy Holly Story" is one that promotes the pursuit of a dream and the overall payoff of hard work, whereas "The Doors" leaves you pondering the downfalls of success and the dangers that accompany it.
Students will find good comparisons in the scenes where the band defies what society expects of them (4:20 minutes), when the crowd swarms Buddy; (1:07:56 minutes), when troubles erupt within the band; (1:13:40 minutes) and when they play on the Ed Sullivan Show (1:17:35 minutes).
Comparative Film: The Rose vs. The Doors
Oliver Stone's "The Doors", and Mark Rydell's "The Rose," both focus on the rise and fall of two legendary musicians. Stone's almost grotesque documentary probes into the life of Jim Morrison and his infamous band The Doors, while Rydell's film creates a fictitious character, Rose, to be synonymous with the legendary female rock star of the 1960's, Janis Joplin. Although these movies have the same intentions, Stone's over use of drugs and alcohol throughout the film forces his objective to become obsolete. However, in "The Rose," Rydell attempts to penetrate into the life of his main character prior to her rise to fame, instead of solely concentrating on how she deals with her new found success. By looking into the personal life of the Rose, Rydell creates a character whom the audience is better able to relate to.
As always, Stone has created a controversial, yet compelling film. He shocks his audience by showing Morrison's abuses on and off stage, while not counteracting them with his human emotion. However, Rydell displays both the Rose's abuses, but he lessens the harshness of them by going in depth into her personal life. Both movies share a similar theme, but Rydell's movie seems to have a better response from audiences, due to him humanizing his character.
Comparison Film: The Glenn Miller Story
vs. The Doors
Tastefully directed by Anthony Mann in 1954, the
legendary Glenn Miller’s dynamic sound of swing comes alive once more.
Glenn Miller, portrayed by Jimmy Stewart, as a bandleader can be compared
to Oliver Stone's character Jim Morrison from his movie set in the 1960's,
"The Doors." Mann's vibrant tribute to one of America’s legendary
bandleaders, charts Miller’s rise from obscurity and poverty to fame and
wealth in the early 1940’s; similar to “The Doors” portrayal of Jim Morrison’s
sudden success and fame. Unique and equally fascinating, "The Glenn
Miller Story" combines "the feel- good Hollywood biopic" with the fresh
sounds of Miller's amazing music. Not only is the combination soothing
for an audience, but by displaying Miller's unconditional love for his
wife and country, the audience feels more amicable towards his character.
In contrast, Stone's movie causes audiences to be almost repulsed
by Morrison's excesses, forcing Morrison to seem inhuman. Nevertheless,
it is difficult to really compare these two movies, considering the periods
in which the characters lived in and the movies were created are extremely
different. "The Glenn Miller Story" was produced in an era when patriotism
was imbedded within American culture, the 1950's, while "The Doors" was
created during a time when America was experiencing a new society based
on technological advancements and money, the 1980's. Mann's and Stone's
attempts to document the lives of two legendary musicians are convincing,
but it is difficult to compare these movies due to the fact that they have
very little, theme wise, in common with each other.
Magazine Article Response:
by Robert Hilburn
As writer Robert Hilburn states in his article concerning
Oliver Stone’s movie, “The Doors, ” the film takes off once it gets past
the “obligatory clichés” of the late 1960’s rock and roll movement.
Stone’s depiction of the band and its lead singer, Jim Morrison, is both
shocking and satisfying. From Stone’s excellent camera angles, the
audience is thrown into the mind of this rock and roll legend. Although
we are repulsed by this mind, we are unable to turn away from its intriguing
actions. Furthermore, these diverse camera angles allow the audience
to witness Morrison’s descent into the darkness of his own self- loathing.
Hilburn alludes to Stone using the tragic life and death of Morrison to show how detrimental fame can be to an artist. Morrison, during the early stages of his career, despised the idea of “fame” and only wanted to use his music to break the cultural barriers within society. However, Morrison became accustomed to excesses, sex, drugs, and alcohol, which in the end lead to the excess, which eventually destroyed him, fame. For these reasons, some would label Morrison a hypocrite, for he preached, through his music, that fame is something that the media has created. Nevertheless, Stone makes his audience feel sorry for Morrison. He forces us to believe that Morrison was a victim of a changing society, not a reckless abuser who met his end due to an overdose or suicide.
Hilburn recognizes Stone’s brilliant direction of the movie, which forces his audience to reexamine the pressure our society places on our cultural heroes. During the late 60’s, Jim Morrison and his band, became legends and heroes to a generation in turmoil. His songs evoked such emotion from his audiences that he was looked upon as a God. Furthermore, Morrison’s continual dance with death allows people of later generations to realize how people of the 1960’s viewed Morrison as a human being.
Newspaper Article Response: The New York
Times- "The Pop Life"- May 23, 1990
This review is based on an interview with Billy Idol, after he accepted a role in Oliver Stone’s film biography of Jim Morrison, “The Doors.” Billy Idol talks about his music and the significance it had in the movie but also comments on “The Doors” and their performances. “I admired the Doors, because they never pandered to a hard-rock stance,” Idol stated. “They were able to make music that conjured a lot of different cultures. They did the blues, and sometimes they almost made folk music. The thread that linked it all was rock-and-roll.”
Look for this review in order to obtain some insights of how another music star views “The Doors” and their music. Interesting monologues by Billy Idol, who has himself contributed in making the movie, open horizons to seeing this movie in a whole new perspective.
Magazine Article Review: The New Republic-
April 1, 1991
An excellent review for those who don’t have much time to read but want a valuable opinion and information on Stone’s movie “The Doors.” This short but extremely insightful and straight to the point review, offers a very strong content matter. Interesting information on Oliver Stone as a director and brief descriptions of Stone’s previous movies like “The Wall Street” and the “Vietnam movies, ” “Born on the Forth of July” and “The Platoon.” The review compares “The Doors” to other movies, providing the reader with significant details and thoughtful observations. The review also gives a brief summary of the movie “The Doors, ” mentioning the main characters in the movie and the actors who had their role.
Newspaper Article Review:
March 25, 1991
by Stewart Klawans
This article is unique in that it is unclear, after
the reader has completed it, whether Klawans is actually recommending the
film "The Doors" or not. He explores Stone’s execution of the film
in the way that he detaches it from a musical theme. Klawans sees
that Stone is more interested in the sensuousness of The Doors, not
their sound. Klawans also compares Stone’s work in producing this
film to Francis Ford Coppola in his execution of "Apocalypse Now."
He provides mostly positive reviews of the actors in the film (especially
Val Kilmer). Klawans’ one major gripe with Stone's making of the
movie is the seriousness of it. When talking about the time period
that the movie was to take place in, he says of the sixties, that "some
of it was just fun" and he was disappointed that Stone failed to capture
that part of the era in his film. Klawans offers an interesting view
of Stone in this review and some of his comparisons can be seen as truly
intriguing and eye-opening.
Scholarly Article Review: "Stone: The Controversies,
Excesses, and Exploits of a Radical Filmmaker"
by James Riordan, pages 307-350
This article follows the production of the movie “The Doors” from its
very beginning to the very end. It concentrates more on the actual developing
of the movie rather than on its analyses. It contains various general information
on the movie -- everything from the time when Stone started writing the
script, throughout the casting and finally filming.
It also contains Stone’s observations and ideas that occurred throughout the project, followed by short interviews given by leading actors who comment on the roles they played and how they prepared and rehearsed for the scenes. Personal accounts of people involved in the project make the article vivid and interesting - go for it and get an amazing insight into the world of “Making The Doors.”
Scholarly Article Review: Oliver Stone Close-
Up: "Portraits of the Tortured Artist- Visionary"
by Chris Salewicz
This article goes deep into the underlying meanings
of many aspects of the movie "The Doors." It examines the ties to Greek
mythology and the "Iron Age." The author examines the possible bond
between Morrison and Christ (a "disillusioned and imperfect Christ," that
is). The author also focuses on Morrison's wish to "transcend consciousness"
and questions whether, in his death, Morrison was really able to
"break on through to the other side." The author labels Jim not as a true
hero, but the "antihero" of the "Iron Age" who is actually laughed at by
the gods. Finally, the author declares that Stone's method of conveying
the truth to the audience is that it "comes through knowledge and that
the truth shall set us free." However, it is questioned whether Stone
really is conveying the whole truth and if his methods for acquainting
the audience with that truth are ethical.
Scholarly Article Review: The Cinema of Oliver
by Norman Kagan, pages 164-182
At the very beginning of Kagan's article, the reader finds out about the overwhelming influence Jim Morrison had on Oliver Stone's life. Thus the reader is able to appreciate the movie more, knowing that its main character holds a special meaning for Stone. Furthermore, the reader learns about some of the reasons behind Stone's dedication and huge risks he took when filming "The Doors." Kagan tells the vivid story of how the writing of the script first came about. Also, he gives an extremely detailed account of the movie. This account takes the reader through the movie, briefly summarizing and analyzing all the scenes. An interesting aspect of this article is that it gives the actual filming information of each individual scene, and it also wraps up the movie as a whole by making general observations.
This article is very useful as reference material (after having seen the movie), for it cites quotations and even whole dialogues from important scenes in the movie.