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New documentary A Window Into The World Of The Doors

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#1 darkstar


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Posted 15 April 2010 - 04:58 AM

Detroit Free Press

Posted: April 15, 2010
By Preston Jones

New documentary A Window Into The World Of The Doors
Film Offers A Fresh Look At The Band's Turbulent Times

The Doors, one of the most enduring acts of the '60s, is also one of the decade's most obsessively chronicled bands -- perhaps because of the quartet's penchant for indulging in myth and front man Jim Morrison's soulful iconoclasm. Yet all but the most faithful Doors fans will scratch their heads and wonder whether "When You're Strange," writer-director Tom DiCillo's lean look back, is really necessary.

Although the Johnny Depp-narrated documentary isn't quite essential viewing, it does, surprisingly, offer a fresh, even intimate, perspective on the Doors. It does so by providing the audience with a taste of the turbulent '60s, a decade marked by a potent mix of sex and violence that was embodied by the Doors.

That intimacy is further heightened by newly discovered footage, which includes several moments from "HWY," Morrison's unreleased 1969 experimental film. The otherworldly clips bookend the film and serve to punctuate the documentary with a startling immediacy.

Fresh footage aside, "When You're Strange" works as a breakneck survey of the Doors' brief existence. (It's revealed near the conclusion that the band was together for a mere 54 months.) Although Morrison is the de facto focus, band mates Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore at least rate more than the usual cursory mention.

Depp's narration, which can slide into overwrought canonization (the film stops just short of declaring Morrison a tragically misunderstood genius), helps provide wry modern context for such scandals as the Doors' refusal to alter the lyrics of "Light My Fire" for a national television debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

The film indulges in ample backstage footage from the band's few tours, and that seems to be the primary reason for its creation. Seeing Morrison blithely hang a lei over the neck of an obviously giddy young woman or watching as Manzarek patiently fields questions helps humanize a group of men all too often shrouded in the mists of legend.


The Windsor Star

Earnest Look At Doors

By Rick Warner
Bloomberg News
April 15, 2010


(Devonshire tonight at 7 and Saturday at 1 p.m.)

Rating 3 1/2/5

Tom DiCillo's documentary about The Doors is a surprisingly sober revision of pop-culture myth. At times, When You're Strange is -- somewhat ironically -- too sober. An archival treasure trove of unseen footage, intimate recordings and studio demos, this movie feels a bit like Ken Burns on the brown acid: packed full of facts, details and pristine frames while assuming a highly earnest, but fittingly rebellious, narrative voice. -- Katherine Monk, Canwest News Service

Val Kilmer did a killer impersonation of Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors. If you want to see the real thing check out When You're Strange, a nostalgic documentary about the charismatic poet/rocker who was arrested for indecent exposure and died in a Paris bathtub at 27.

Narrated in a worshipful tone by Johnny Depp, the new movie doesn't reveal much about Morrison and his bandmates that their fans don't already know. But writer/director Tom DiCillo has unearthed some amazing footage shot from 1965, when the group formed, to 1971, when Morrison died from unknown causes. The decision to stick with old footage gives the film a throwback vibe, but it also means there's little perspective, apart from the overly sombre narration. It's hard to watch Morrison's deterioration from an electric performer to a wasted rock star, often so drunk or high on drugs that he can't even finish a song. By the time he moves to Paris, you know all those magical Doors are shut.