PUBLISHED 17 APR 2017
DEPICTING the rise and fall of a rock ’n’ roll star on screen provides an insight into the lifestyle of a music icon. Both The Doors and The Runaways were influential bands in their time and left huge legacies behind them. Joan Jett of The Runaways is one of the most influential women of rock and roll, while Jim Morrison left his mark as the Lizard King, a poet and pioneer in the music world. In the two self titled biographical films we are exposed to every angle of the bands' fame and misfortune.
The biopic film is the bridge between documentary and story. This style of film enables the audience to empathise with the rock stars on a personal level, uncovering their façades as powerful idols within the music industry. Set in 1965, THE DOORS showcases factual elements of Jim Morrison’s early life, whilst also portraying what life was like in the 1960s. Through its slow, seductive pace, the film depicts Jim Morrison, idolised for his poetic musical talent and considered an international sex symbol. The music used in the soundtrack of THE DOORS was carefully selected by director Oliver Stone, which also included some of Jim Morrison’s later work. Following The Doors’ acid-fuelled moody blues, the soundtrack runs chronologically parallel to the film, starting with the band’s earlier music through to the death of Morrison in 1971. The majority of the music in the film is The Doors’ own material but some of the songs feature vocals from actor Val Kilmer who plays Jim. His recreations, considered to be very accurate, have been praised among critics and Doors fans alike.
THE RUNAWAYS depicts the creation and destruction of the band of the same name. The band formed in 1975 and renowned music video director Sigismondi's film reveals what life was like in that time for a group of girls, with the ambition to start a rock band. The soundtrack to the film includes a variety of music from the mid 1970s, including the iconic David Bowie, who is featured as an influence on lead vocalist Cherrie Currie (Dakota Fanning). The coming of age story provides lots of ups and downs in the narrative and this is reflected in the soundtrack, which includes fast paced rock songs and also slower ballads to suit the shifting tone. The band are portrayed as feisty and wild teenage girls that stand up to what they see as a "man’s world" industry. The film challenges this as the young girls are frequently seen to be biting back at the sexist men along the way. The soundtrack to the film also contains many classic, recognisable songs of the time. This contrasts THE DOORS’ soundtrack, which although full of great songs, may only be known to an audience who follows the band.
Both films are enjoyable interpretations that follow the lives of the band members. But they also provide a story for the soundtracks themselves, with many of the song lyrics telling a narrative story that provide an insight into the reason the songs were written. The films may seem targeted at those who know the bands, but from a factual and biographical perspective they are enjoyable for all. The music is simply an added bonus.
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