When You're Strange

First Hit:  The Doors music is always great, but this film isn’t. 

First of all, I didn’t understand the Jim Morrison look alike driving through the desert and periodically showing up in between the archival footage of Morrison and The Doors playing, standing around, and doing interviews.

Yes, I got the obvious link when it was announced on car radio (LA’s 95.5 KLOS) of this look alike, that Morrison had died in Paris earlier that day but that some thought and were reporting that Jim was still alive.

But beyond the first introduction of his death via the radio broadcast, what did this serve? Why did we continually revisit this guy driving around in the hot Mustang? What value did this add to the picture? What was the point? The narration by Johnny Depp was tonally good; the actual script was stupid at times and made me cringe in my seat.

Although old enough, I thought that maybe Director Tom DiCillo never saw any of The Doors concerts and created the script through his own perception of the group, but finally I just realized he shouldn't have written this script.

The reality was, that The Doors created some of the most unique and intense music of the 60’s generation. It was different by virtue of the unique talents of the musicians, an area DiCillo did cover. I grew up with The Doors music and saw them at the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood and also at the Hollywood Bowl when Mick Jagger was in the front row.

Watching footage of these events brought back a flood of very fond memories. Despite the extreme difficulty of creating a cohesive story with only interview, concert and studio footage outtakes; the pain of John Densmore, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek trying to keep the band together and creating music was evident and foretelling of Jim’s demise and early death.

Although there are lots of songs which would provide an interesting picture of The Doors, try putting on a good set of headphones (or ear buds), turn up the volume real high and listen to the opening of “Break On Through”; drums and cymbals flowing into the unique organ base line, followed by guitar mimicking the base line - twice, and then Jim singing “You know the day destroys the night, Night divides the day, Tried to run, Tried to hide, Break on through to the other side …”. Jim was always interested on breaking on through to the other side; “…yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah”.

DiCillo brought some interesting footage together but there wasn’t much of a theme that ran through this film and I thought the look alike stuff driving around in a Mustang GT-350 was wasteful and unhelpful to understanding The Doors or Morrison.

Overall: Although some of the never seen before archival footage was varying in quality, it was wonderful to see but I especially enjoyed the music and in the end it was about the music.