Updated: Dec 9, 2021
“My name is Val Kilmer and I’ve lived a magical life.”
I was in line at the grocery store waiting to check out when I the article caught my eye on the on the cover of People Magazine. I never buy and read magazines unless I notice an article of great interest to me and sadly that rarely happens for me. This title was in the left-hand corner of the September 6th issue and read:
Val Kilmer, ‘I Wasn’t Ready to Die.’
His Brave Recovery After Losing His Voice to Cancer.
I had to know what Kilmer was recovering from. I took the article home and read it after I unpacked the groceries. Not only did I learn about his struggle with throat cancer, I found out that he had created the documentary, VAL. That is where this article was born. In the checkout line of a grocery store.
I knew about Kilmer through the years as the actor that played in movies such as Willow, Top Gun and Batman Forever. However, the one movie that still sticks out to me is when he played Jim Morrison in The Doors. In my early twenties The Doors was my favorite music to listen to. As a classic rock fan and curious non-fiction writer, I wanted to know more about this Jim Morrison character that I was listening to so often. So naturally, when I was assigned to do a research paper on anyone, in undergrad, I didn’t hesitate to select who I was already curious about. I’d seen the movie before but at one point through the research I decided to re-watch it.
What I discovered is something that I couldn’t have appreciated and took for granted the first time I watched this film. Kilmer literally embodied Jim Morrison’s soul. It was so impressive he literally mimicked his every movement and characteristic to the point where you got this eerie feeling that Morrison had been brought back from the dead. At that moment watching the film for the second time, Kilmer wasn’t just as actor to me; he was an artist. He was The Lizard King down to the leather pants and drunken nature. Anyone watching would see Morrison. It doesn’t take an expert in the field of acting to know that this was talent.
It is clear by his role of Morrison alone that to Kilmer acting for him was serious and personal. In the documentary, Val, the audience has the pleasure of witnessing this firsthand by having access to mind and life’s work of Val Kilmer.
VAL is documentary work at its finest. The audience gets to see Kilmer for the first time as a human being outside of the actor. This act of pure genius allows the audience to come full circle on Kilmer’s journey and see the nature of Kilmer’s acting craft.
Kilmer, that is described as difficult to work with because he is a perfectionist is a rarity that one can only hope to be compared to in the acting industry. His awareness of fluff verses meaningful roles shows that he is one of the true actors that will continue to inspire humanity long after his departure from this earth. That is all any human being can ask for.
1 h 48 min
Val Kilmer, one of Hollywood’s most mercurial actors has been documenting his life and craft through film. He has amassed thousands of hours of footage, from home movies made with his brothers, to time spent in iconic roles for blockbuster films like Top Gun & Batman. This raw and wildly original documentary reveals a life lived to extremes and a heart-filled look at what it means to be an artist.
Directors: Leo Scott, Ting Poo
Starring: Val Kilmer
Official Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqNnhgEyQCU