Friday, March 26, 2010


I went to see When You're Strange last night at a screening here in Manhattan.  It's a feature documentary about the rock band The DoorsJohnny Depp narrates it.  Using only original footage shot between 1966 and 1971, director/writer Tom DiCillo gives us an inside look at the rise and fall of The Doors and its iconic lead singer Jim Morrison.

Morrison was clearly seduced by fame and also pushed it away.  At times on film, he appears the shy poet and then an attention-craving loon. Morrison is absolutely mesmerizing to watch perform.  This documentary puts its finger on the pulse of the times during the 1960s and early 1970s, when America was dealing with assassinations, the youth rebellion, the Vietnam War and drug culture.

When You're Strange is more than your typical biopic about a rock band.  Thankfully, there are no talking heads or cheesy dramatizations.  We see with our own eyes on raw footage when Jim Morrison is too drunk or high to perform and his band kills time playing their hearts out for the audience, while Morrison writhes around on the stage floor in an LSD stupor.  Then he's pulled up, as if by some outside force, and leaps to his feet and manages to join in again. 

The film gives much-deserved attention to the other three members of The Doors (Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore).  Jim Morrison had the magic and sex appeal with his voice, good-looks and leather pants... but it was his guitarist Robby Krieger who wrote the #1 song "Light My Fire".  His keyboardist Ray Manzarek offered the intoxicating sounds and drummer John Densmore was equally dynamic giving The Doors their unique sound.

The Doors produced six albums and countless provocative live performances. 

Jim Morrison died in Paris in 1971 at the age of 27.  

If you love rock music and The Doors, don't miss this doc.  It opens April 9th.  Here's the trailer.

Until next time.

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