In this riveting documentary film about The Doors, we get a first hand look at the rock quartet whose impact on the American Rock music scene is still felt four decades after the band’s untimely demise in 1971. Written and directed by Tom DiCillo, narrated by Johnny Depp, and produced by Law & Order’s Dick Wolf, When You’re Strange has something for everybody. Fans who were alive during The Doors’ reign on music get to witness previously unseen footage of their idols clowning around backstage, being interviewed by various news outlets from around the world, and living the rock lifestyle in home videos made by the band members themselves. For today’s social networking addicted youth this film is like a history lesson into the trials and tribulations of an iconic band that always hovered over the edge of chaos.
For lead singer Jim Morrison, obedience was suicide, so his free expressionism at shows was considered a threat to society, much like Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV video music awards. As Johnny Depp comments in his eerie Hunter Thompson-esqe voice from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Jim’s on stage antics and uncensored lyrics generated a “cultural earthquake” amongst the youth. While the band’s popularity grew so did Jim’s alcohol and drug abuse, which is shown throughout “The Soft Parade” recording sessions where Jim continually came to the studio drunk and unable to perform.
Although the band was knee deep in personal drama nothing was more captivating than seeing The Doors rock out before a room full of die hard fans, and this film captures those moments beautifully. If you are a fan of the music and wanted to go deeper inside the story of a band that embodied rock music like nobody before them then you will thoroughly enjoy Tom Dicillo’s When You’re Strange. After watching this film their music will never sound the same again.
Jim Morrison was the best and worst of all of us who felt that we could change the world if only people over 30 would listen. He is an icon and an object lesson.
In terms of a rock’n’roll documentary – or any kind of documentary, for that matter – it simply doesn’t get any better than this. What an honor to have been involved. I am as proud of this as anything I’ve ever done.
To me, there is nothing more powerful and riveting than seeing Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Jim Morrison leap into life on the screen.
Do you have a favorite song by The Doors?