Paris, 1971 (Review)

Paris, 1971 is a short documentary featuring previously unheard interview excerpts with Jim Morrison, The Doors’ front man. The title gets its name from the city and year in which Morrison died.

Contrary to what you might think, the documentary is not about Morrison’s death, which itself seems surrounded and protected by insurmountable history. The film’s subject is much more overtly abstract. Director David Khachatorian mixes static shots of the Père Lachaise Cemetery (where Morrison – and his idols, among them Oscar Wilde and Frederic Chopin – remain) with the new interview excerpts.

In the excerpts, Morrison not only philosophizes about life, death, and his childhood, as he was wont to do, both within his music and his written word, but also actively tries to grapple with those subjects. This is what makes these excerpts worthy of release and accompanying documentary. He would frequently talk at length about anything every attempting at finding a conclusion. Here, he strives for conclusion.

There are times when Morrison goes too far on a tangent, and we lose him, leaving us only with listless shots of adorned graves, most of which also fail to hold attention. Only we both fully understand Morrison and recognize a certain grave that the film’s elements come together powerfully, in the way I assume Khachatorian means for them to.
For those interested in Morrison, this documentary is worth seeing.

Paris, 1971 is featured in VIFF’s short film program Disquiet in Paradise. Check it out on October 4th at 6:15 or October 7th at 12:00 only at Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas.

Image courtesy of lauramusikanski from Morguefile.

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