According to Billboard, people are working on a new documentary about Jim Morrison, who died from a drug overdose in Paris on July 3, 1971, so 50 years ago. If Oliver Stone’s 1991 ‘The Doors’ was a biopic with Val Kilmer starring as Morrison, this new project approved by JAM, Inc. and the Morrison estate, will be devoted solely to the Doors frontman, with full access to all his music, poetry, and art. Last month, HarperCollins published ‘The Collected Works of Jim Morrison: Poetry, Journals, Transcripts and Lyrics’ including ‘numerous handwritten excerpts of unpublished and published poetry and lyrics from his 28 privately held notebooks.’
‘They just unearthed all these diaries and notes and that’s what’s intriguing to me: having footage, writing, and information about Jim that’s never been exposed,’ coproducer Gunpowder & Sky CEO Van Toffler said. ‘It takes a unique filmmaker to really pull that out. If you do it right, it doesn’t really matter what preceded it — sort of like the eighth version of A Star Is Born, it’s new to a generation.’
‘That magic of iconic artists is 100 percent relevant and resonant. It’s just up to us, to the caretakers, to put it back in the pop culture conversation in a way that’s credible, authentic, and meaningful to 11- to 30-year-olds,’ said Jeff Jampol, CEO of Jampol artist management. ‘Because if we do it credibly and authentically, and we don’t whitewash it or edit it or spin it or tart it up, the magic will transfer and Jim will do the work for us.’
‘Jim Morrison has been known as the leather trousers-clad Dionysian rock star, the Greek god handsome, amazing singer, shaman, and performer. But Jim was a polymath. Jim was a poet and a writer and a filmmaker long before he ever thought about music,’ Jeff Jampol added.
‘We’re in an age of very manicured doc that we’re seeing all over the place, and I really don’t have any interest in that,’ Toffler added. ‘We’re really upfront with the artist. It’s like, ‘We’re going to ask you about the bad stuff about your career.’ If things are too combed over, it’s just not that intriguing.’
Their truthful and honest approach is interesting because Morrison was really a rockstar with all the excesses and debauchery of the term, and I have no doubt that cancel culture would have been on his case today. If the current culture condemns the controversial behavior of some pop/rockstars because they may have sent a not-woke-enough tweet 10 years ago or have been emotionally abusive to their partners, how could the world be ready for the truth about Jim Morrison?
Drugs, sex, and rock & roll may be a cliché, but Morrison was the clear incarnation of the lifestyle: he was arrested numerous times for disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, shouting obscenities to the crowd, public drunkenness, and disorderly conduct. He caused a riot during a show in Phoenix, exposed himself on stage in Miami. Doors producer Paul Rothchild said he had a Jekyll and Hyde persona (sober and drunk). As for the women, he slept with plenty – groupies must have been invented for Morrison – and he physically fought with Janis Joplin who only called him ‘that asshole.’ He had a tumultuous relationship with his on and off girlfriend Pamela: there were loud arguments, violence, fights and Jim even set fire to a room in which Pam had locked herself in. Today’s emotional abuse argument looks so tame in comparison to Morrison’s behavior.
Morrison had the looks of a Greek god; shirtless, he was a teenager sex symbol while his stage antics were equally sexual and rebellious. He died mysteriously from an excess of booze or drugs soaked in a bathtub, but his death has never been completely clarified because no autopsy was done at the time. In life, he was a counterculture rockstar, in death he became a legend and a myth.
There is no doubt in my mind that Jim Morrison would be ‘canceled’ today, and if his life is well documented, I am not sure how much exposure the new generation has received. This film is supposed to honor him and his legendary legacy, but if it is as honest as the producers want it to be, cancel culture should have a field day with one of our ‘70s myths.
The film is set for a late 2022 to early 2023 release.
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