PictureIt has to be said that this 1080p MPEG-4/AVC presentation at 2.35:1 is the best that you'll ever see The Doors on your home cinema. The image is pristine only wavering in one scene where some brightness fluctuations on John Densmore's denim waistcoat are apparent. Apart from that the print is exemplary with no dirt or scratches and on the whole the transfer comes across pretty well indeed.
Colours are a difficult one to appraise due to some of the hallucinatory techniques employed for the film itself. There are swathes of golden hues out in the desert scenes whilst they are all having their trip and as Morrison leaves them to follow his imaginary Shamen. There are fine gradients of gold, yellow and bronze contained in these scenes and none show any banding from the encoding process. Other colours during the sun drenched West Coast scenes or the brief scenes during the Ed Sullivan Show are deep, rich and vibrant and add to the depth the film has to offer. Skin tones and facial detail is spot on with pores, eyes and hair well defined. There is a little enhancement to be seen, specifically in the bright desert scenes at the start where the band members go for a tripping session.
Black levels are good and there's excellent contrast range which helps the shadowy concert scenes. The members of the audience are easily identified yet not hindered by some of the spotlights focused on the band members. There's a lot of night scenes, from Courson's balcony and detail is still evident in these scenes from the rubbish the fox is trawling through, the beach on which Morrison and Courson play and the roof top on which Morrison sleeps. The image is perhaps not as sharp as it could have been and this really is the biggest let down, occasionally it goes a little soft reducing the wow factor a little. Apart from that a very good transfer indeed.
SoundOver and above the earlier Dolby and DTS variants, this BluRay release blows them out of the water with a stunning detailed and deep DTS-MS 7.1 track. The surrounds and rears are limited to the sea or wind, traffic, concert scenes or tripping scenes out in the desert and this is no bad use of those speakers. Ultimately though it is the frontal stage which gets the most workout in your system. The traffic, specifically some rough motorcycles wander from the rears through your surrounds to appear on the fronts with absolute precision.
The concert footage with Morrison and The Doors on stage is wide and incredibly dynamic, from the low organ tones to the zing of the cymbal or some of the shouts emanating from the crowd themselves. The individual constructs of the band's music is well portrayed from the haunting organ, incessant drumming and the crisp chords from Krieger's guitar. The music of The Doors comes across well being defined and detailed, with Kilmer's voice never appearing forced or muddy. Equally conversational pieces are well defined and nothing is lost in the hectic mix from quieter conversations on Morrison's roof to the multitude of snippets included at Andy Warhol's apartment party.
The Doors never had a bassist in their band, with most of the lower tones provided by the drums and the organ and as such there's a lack of extensive LFE use in this feature. This is in no way detracts from the ultimate enjoyment of this feature; it's not as though you're seeing an explosion or two. It's rare and used when necessary but no more than that. For this film though the soundtrack and the background score containing snippets of their music plus the defined and vibrant sound stage whilst the concerts are on screen are what this film will be judged on and for that it cannot be faulted.
- Directors Commentary.
Oliver Stone chats are usually pretty interesting and engaging but as he has a great love of The Doors, which is apparent from later featurettes, this unfortunately isn't one of them. He covers all the bases with casting, location, and production woes but it seems as though he's really working on auto pilot. It's still worth a listen to though, just not up to his usual high informative standard.
- The Doors in L.A. - 0:19:37 - MPEG-2-1080p
John Densmore, The Doors dummer has some input mentioning how they were making changes and thought they were ending the war in Vietnam. Robbie Krieger, guitarist mentions how Morrison wanted to be universal but the band couldn't help be swayed by the environment at the time. Stone details how he came to enjoy the music of the doors whilst on active service in Vietnam himself. Densmore and Krieger offer up some historical details of The Doors, how they met, the initial clubs they played, where they lived and the contacts they made with other bands in the area.
- Jim Morrison: A Poet In France. - 0:52:08 - MPEG-2/480i
A French based documentary, with English subtitles, on the life of Jim Morrison. Historians and French composers give their own views on the life and times of Morrison and The Doors. All recognise his desire and ability as a poet more than as a rock and roll icon and why he decided to live his life in Paris and disconnect from The Doors. There is also a brief interview with the coroner who asks the all important questions as to what Morrison actually died of. She's critical of the investigation which followed his death which meant ultimately she was unable to find the exact cause.
- The Road to Excess. - 0:28:42 - MPEG-2/480i.
Some snippets showing The Doors on stage, Stone again mentioning how he first got into their music enjoying Morrison's raw vocals. Again Stone mentions his time in Vietnam and his time taking acid down in Australia. Stone goes onto mention his first screenplay, a precursor to Platoon, and how it was influenced by their music. Ray's objections to the film and Stone himself is briefly touched upon. Val Kilmer pops up discussing his audition for the role and how he duped Stone with a demo tape he made singing some of The Doors' songs.
- Original Featurette. - 0:06:19 - MPEG-2/480i.
The usual EPK fodder and there's some repetition from the earlier documentaries. Stone again mentioning how he found The Doors whilst in Vietnam, Kilmer on how he related to Morrison's character. Stone's on screen discussing the actors chosen to play the band members.
- Deleted Scenes. - 0:43:36 - MPEG-2/480i
There are 14 deleted scenes in all, and thankfully with a Play All function. A short introduction by Stone mentioning why he removed these scenes from the final cut. There's scenes from the early Doors period, tripped out night car journeys, extended in flight scenes with Michael Maddison and Meg Ryan, additional concert footage and the like. I felt these were rightfully confined to the cutting room floor as they never really added anything to the storyline which Stone was trying to get across. Purists will perhaps argue that some of the scenes, specifically Ray's wedding and the additional concert footage at New Haven should have perhaps been left in; I'd go for the New Haven experience over any other deleted scene here though.
- Original Trailer & TV Spots.
The original trailer and a collection of very short TV commercials.
Rambo, Step Into Liquid, Belly, Crank and 3:10 to Yuma.
A superb set of additional extras, if not still lacking the cinematography feature which is an interesting watch in itself. The rest of the extras though are a hit and miss affair. The deleted scenes are not very entertaining and the featurette is a limiting affair however the first three, whilst having some repetition, are worthy affairs in their own right. It was good to see Stone admit to some mistakes and Keenealy having the opportunity to set the record straight on some scenes containing her character. The commentary is not the best that Stone has done, but it covers the bases and is still more enjoyable then most of the going solo chat tracks out there.
VerdictThe Doors is always an enjoyable watch, not necessarily from a historical point of view but surprisingly from Val Kilmer's performance, this and the earlier mentioned Tombstone have to be his best works to date. He looks like Jim Morrison, his on stage antics and vocal performance have to be commended even if you dislike the way Stone has portrayed the band and Morrison as a whole.
Yes it has some variances for dramatic purpose and Stone himself readily admits that given the opportunity again then he may have changed a few things including some character names. However even if he did this he would have been derided anyway by the very people he would have been trying to 'protect' so I think he took the right course at the end of the day.
If you're a music lover then you'll probably want this in your collection purely for the incredible audio that comes across during The Doors' performances. Its a step up from the earlier DVD releases and I can certainly advise on upgrading if you're a fan of the film. If you've never seen the film or experienced The Doors' music then I can advise buying this anyway, for some it's been an avenue to exploring the band and Jim Morrison further. Recommended.
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- Directors Commentary.