'When You're Strange: A Film about The Doors'
(DVD / NR / 2010 / Eagle Records)
Overview: Making its theatrical debut in April, When You’re Strange, written and directed by the award-winning Tom Dicillo, is an intimate and revealing look at The Doors. The legendary band ignited a creative, rebellious revolution with songs “Light My Fire,” “Touch Me,” “When You’re Strange,” and many others.
DVD Verdict: John, Jim, Ray, and Robbie - probably the closest an American band ever came to The Beatles. Obviously comparing any band to The Beatles will most likely result in some sort of unjust outcry from the masses, but the comparison is there: 4 guys that the stars aligned to get together for a short period of time to create original music that spoke to a generation and is still going strong after 40 years.
For me, I was born in 1964 so by the time I discovered The Doors, Jim had been dead 7 years. I was rummaging through a stack of old out-of-rotation LPs that a local radio DJ gave to my older sister. In the mix was The Soft Parade. Having heard of The Doors, I gave it a listen. I remember thinking to myself, is this really The Doors' music, but the names on the back of the album confirmed it. Anyway, I liked what I heard and wanted to hear more. At that time, my music collection was mainly British bands like The Who, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. The Doors fit right in very nicely.
As to When You're Strange (I have the Blu-Ray version) I found it to be entertaining. I have seen some of the footage before, but not this clean or sounding as good. As to the story, well, most everyone probably knows it, so this documentary doesn't veer to far away from what most fans already know. However, it is edited very nicely and covers as much as an 85 minute documentary can reasonably cover. To truly tell the full story with in-depth album by album coverage would require a multi-disc anthology set.
I recommend When You're Strange to both the casual and avid fan of The Doors. I was very impressed with the clips from Jim's Highway movie as well as clips from his UCLA days and from when he was 16. The film is very fair and represents all band members. Certainly Morrison is the most notorious member and therefore, gets more focus. However, as time has proven, despite the vast musical talents of Ray, Robbie, and John, they really weren't anything without Jim as their catalyst.
What The Doors did in 54 months is incredible and this film reminds us of those accomplishments. It also clearly shows that Morrison knew, well before the other 3 realized it, when the music was over. [SF].