When I first encountered the music of The Doors it was quite a different experience from anything I had come across musically. For me the British Invasion was a refreshing reminder of innocence in America and around the world, while on the other hand, The Doors were desire awakening. The front man for the Doors, Jim Morrison, was a film student attending UCLA, which at the time was known for its Avant-garde film studies. Morrison's rise to fame as a poet, lover and musician overshadowed his exploration of non-linear film form.
The documentary Hyacinth focuses on the pre-Doors Jim Morrison and it gives the spectator an inside look at the young man who would become a substantial figure in music and revolutionize it.
The film also explores Morrison's rare footage of his friend Elizabeth Buckner and college roommate poet Max Schwartz. A part of Morrison's life that is rarely explored, it forces a closer look at the way we perceive the Jim Morrison we have come to know in our pop culture. To his friend, Jim is an open, intelligent and brilliant human being who loves learning and was not afraid to be open to the world. This is a key component to the rest of the world about that kind of person Jim is, even in the collective memory.
Hyacinth is the core component of a "transmedia" story, utilizing various web based platforms and mediums for an experience beyond the documentary. Jim probably would have loved this non-linear approach of managing art. The Hyacinth experience prompted me to explore Morrison's amazing story while discombobulating the concocted myths that have been solidified within our collective consciousness today. In other words, the film is made to the taste of Jim Morrison should he have been alive to work with today's film tools. This film is built in a way that would have been suited to his desire to tell a story.
A long form version of the short film Obscura, Hyacinth also contains Jim Morrison's directorial piece called First Love. Max Schwartz talks about Jim's desire to make films, as well as Schwartz' love for a man who would eventually utilize his fame to begin to make films that would revolutionize the way we look at the world.
A revolutionary in every sense, Morrison's songwriting and literature has changed the way we look at film, think Apocalypse Now, which helped showcase a different point of view. And know that Hyacinth is not your typical Morrison/Doors documentary. It a beacon for the poetry and photography of the late Max Schwartz, which promotes Schwartz's message of love for the earth and acceptance for those who are different from ourselves. Morrison's friend and college roommate, Schwartz starred in the lost film First Love which was shot prior to a second film Morrison directed which resulted in Morrison's UCLA professors and fellow students scoffing at the second film, followed by the rumor that Morrison then burned that second film on Venice beach. Ironically, after Morrison's success with the Doors, UCLA honored him by creating a scholarship program in his name. Morrison also used non-linear transmedia storytelling, blending music and literature as different touch points for a similar theme or narrative.
If anything in this case, the film strips down the way we look at the Aristotelian unities in telling a story, which makes it a trademark in what Jim Morrison wanted to do as a storyteller. To many, Jim Morrison is a proto-punk (even to Gypsy) for this reason.
Thanks to Max Schwartz, in Hyacinth Jim's voice is heard beyond The Doors and exemplifies his cinematic potential. The film addresses Morrison's dreams, desires, loves and his drive to communicate and tell stories. Schwartz strips down and debunks the mythic rock star Morrison, giving the viewer a real person most of us can actually relate to. Hyacinth is a transmedia story creating its own desire to be seen, it ask us to take a look at the Jim Morrison we need to know.
When the man his mum knew as James Newell Osterberg Jr saw The Doors, a light-bulb pinged on in his head. The college dropout had been in bands for a while when he saw Morrison in October 1967, but the experience helped him focus his own act.
"Here's this guy, out of his head on acid, dressed in leather with his hair all oiled and curled," Iggy recalled in 2011. "It got confrontational. Part of me was like, 'Wow, this is great. He's really pissing people off and he's lurching around making these guys angry.' People were rushing the stage and Morrison's going "Fuck you. You blank, blank, blank." It was sort of a case of, "Hey, I can do that."
There was even a brief plan in the mid-'70s for Iggy to join the remaining Doors as their new frontman, but that came to nothing. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at those rehearsals…
Another impressionable young pop-picker whose head was comprehensively turned by seeing Morrision around that time was the future high priestess of the New York punk scene.
A big fan of Morrison's poetry, she too weaved dark, free-form poetry into the tapestry of rock'n'roll on albums like her 1975 classic Horses, and even wrote her own glowing review of the album American Prayer (recorded by the remaining Doors to accompany Morrison's poetry) in US music magazine Creem in 1979: "His fatal flaw was that his most precious skin was the thin membrane that housed the blood of the poet," she wrote.
"He pledged his allegiance, in the end, to language, to the word. And it did him in… An American Prayer resounds in the silence that surrounds the cocoon of the lord, he is sleeping, hibernating, awaiting the changeling and the elegance of his change."
Well, who are we to argue?
Jim Morrison puts our first look at Punk Rock in perspective with this quote from 1969 "The thing they called rock, what used to be called Rock'n'roll—it got decadent. And then there was a revival sparked by the English. That went very far. It was articulate. Then it became self conscious, which I think is the death of any movement… It became incestuous. The energy is gone. There is no longer a belief."