Before the End: Searching for Jim Morrison
Wild Child. Erotic Politician. Young Lion.
The Shaman. The Lizard King. The Changeling.
Hippie Adonis. Bozo Dionysus. Mr. Mojo Risin’.
Amazing lyricist. Pretentious poet. Beautiful wreck.
The epithets affixed to legendary iconoclast Jim Morrison, many by his own tongue, reveal a genuine paradox: Morrison appears to have been whomever his audience demanded he be at any given moment. Nearly 50 years after he seized the zeitgeist amidst one of history’s most revolutionary decades, and based solely on his having fashioned [however ironically] the quintessential rock star prototype, his impact as a performer remains largely confined to the domain of parody. And yet Morrison’s electric ghost haunts each new generation. Such a persistent enigma deserves investigation. But where does that leave James Douglas Morrison, the human being? In the independent documentary film Before the End: Searching for Jim Morrison [formerly Before the End: Jim Morrison Comes of Age], the spotlight is turned on the flesh-and-blood man behind the myth, as well as the boy who begat the man.
Jim Morrison is one of the twentieth century’s most mysterious and misunderstood figures. Morrison tore the seal off of reality and functioned as a blind taste tester for a counterculture that, through experimental daring and the questioning of authority, contributed immensely to societal evolution. But that was just one facet of his fascinating life. Following his reported death of July 3, 1971, his brief chameleonic existence of 27 years left his legacy open to vast misinterpretation, a practice that continues to this day.
“WHOEVER CONTROLS THE MEDIA, CONTROLS THE MIND.” ~ JDM
Over a half-century, a mountain of media has accumulated in Morrison’s name. He is an enduring figurehead who was forged during the incendiary 1960s and is best known as the primal and profound singer-songwriter of The Doors. Foreshadowing the punk movement, Morrison screamed, incited riots, ingested hallucinogens, and drunkenly spat at his followers. He also crooned, gave erudite interviews, studied theatre and film, and strove to be acknowledged for his poetry. Endemic to controversy, with each passing year his notoriety only grows. So where does truth end and lore begin? Who was Jim Morrison, really? When did he choose to embrace such contradictory extremes? What set him on his mercurial personal journey? Why is he continually portrayed as a one-dimensional sex-drugs-and-rock & roll cliché? And is there actual proof of his death in Paris? With Morrison not present to defend himself, his methodology has been appropriated by the speculative powers-that-be, not to mention those in the business of keeping him chained to the image of a crowned lizard in leather pants.
The story of The Doors has been told numerous times. Before the End: Searching for Jim Morrison documents Jim Morrison, with particular study given to his formative years, childhood through college, and the family, friends and lovers who knew him.
“A TRUE FRIEND IS SOMEONE WHO LETS YOU HAVE TOTAL FREEDOM TO BE YOURSELF.” ~ JDM
- Before the End features exclusive on-camera interviews with those who knew Morrison the boy and/or man, not just the rock star: Jac Holzman; David Katz; Randy Maney; Bill Thomas; Jim Merrill; Rosanna Norton; Anne Moore; Judy Huddleston; Trina Robbins; Philippe Dalecky; Gilles Yepremian; and many others.
- Most of those interviewed elected to speak about Jim on-camera for the first time, including his brother, Andy Morrison; Jeff Morehouse, Jim’s earliest friend and George Washington High School classmate; Ash Jones, his Alameda High School swim team coach; Bryan Gates, friend and Florida State University classmate; Ralph Turner, FSU medieval history professor; Philip O’Leno, friend and UCLA classmate; Bill Adams, UCLA film instructor; Salli Stevenson, Jim’s friend and lover, with whom he shared one of his final interviews; Todd Schiffman, booking agent for The Doors; Gareth Blyth, Doors roadie, 1969-70; groundbreaking rock critics, Richard Meltzer and Ellen Sander; and more.
- Hours of off-the-record/off-camera conversations with Jim’s first girlfriends, Tandy Martin and Mary Werbelow, helped put puzzle pieces in place. Further illuminating off-the-record/off-camera discussions were shared by Anne Morrison-Chewning, Jim’s sister and executor of his personal estate, Frank Lisciandro, Jim’s friend and film collaborator, who helped copyright owners of his poetry gather his work for posthumous publication, and Alain Ronay, his UCLA roommate and friend who visited him in Paris just prior to July 3, 1971. All were generous with their time and personal memories.
In July 2012, Los Angeles-based Z-Machine Productions broke ground on Before the End: Searching for Jim Morrison, an independent documentary film about the iconic and infamous 1960s-era musician, poet and filmmaker. Before the End is unlike prior Morrison-related media in that its focus is on the humanity behind the hype, including Morrison’s formative years, via filmed interviews [featuring an exclusive with Jim’s brother, Andy Morrison] with those who knew the boy and/or the man in contrast with the mythic rock star. The full-length documentary also deconstructs Morrison’s controversial Doors era and mysterious alleged demise in Paris at age 27 in July 1971.
Director, writer and researcher, Jeff Finn, has logged 30 years of research into Morrison’s life and death. During production on Before the End, he interviewed 700 people connected to Jim, 100 of them on-camera. Jeff and his wife, Jess Finn, are co-producing the project, which is “unauthorized” largely in that it seeks the unvarnished truth.
Thanks to those who experienced him as a person, as opposed to a persona, Before the End: Searching for Jim Morrison will finally reveal the REAL James Douglas Morrison.