A chronological look at The Doors, focusing on lead singer, Jim Morrison (1943-1971), from the formation of the band in 1965, it's first gigs, and first album, to Morrison's death, after years of alcohol and drug use. Along the journey, we see archival footage of rehearsals, performances, and private moments including a Miami concert resulting in Morrison's arrest and trial for indecency. His love of the spotlight, his desire to be a poet, and his alcohol-fueled mood swings lead to a back and forth between public and private desires, successes, and failures. The band's music plays throughout. Written by
A mock newspaper clipping announces both that Sharon Tate and her friends have been found murdered and that Charles Manson and his "Family" are suspected. Manson and the "Family" were not identified as the Tate killers until December 1969, more than four months after the murders happened. See more »
"When You're Strange" recounts quite well the history of the 1960s rock band "The Doors" and its famous, charismatic vocalist Jim Morrison. Using archival and backstage footage, some early home pictures of Morrison, and integrating a history of the band's roots and rocky ride with then-current social upheavals, the film conveys all the chaos, change, and creativity that marked that turbulent era.
Some of the narrative retells information that the band's devotees have known for decades, like the origin of the name "The Doors", a reference to Aldous Huxley's 1954 book "The Doors Of Perception". And the very first song Robby Krieger wrote was "Light My Fire". But old details can be informative to new fans.
The film's choppy structure probably had some symbolic significance. But the first five minutes seemed unnecessary. And I could have done without the scenes of Morrison driving a car through the desert, which seemed irrelevant and out of context.
As someone who has been mesmerized by The Doors for a long time, I don't think I learned anything new. Yet, the never-before-seen visuals, Morrison's on-stage performances and backstage personality, combined with all that strange music, at times carnivalesque and at other times bluesy, were enormously interesting. About midway through, Morrison comes across best, as he sings "Touch Me", accompanied by an orchestra.
What's disconcerting is the change in Morrison. He starts out innocent and shy, then quickly morphs into an outrageous showman. His indulgence in drugs and hard drinking did him no favors. However, that over-the-edge artistic style was common in the 1960s. And death arrived at the early age of 27 not only for Morrison, but also for Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and Morrison's girlfriend, Pamela Courson.
Forty years after his death, Jim Morrison still fascinates people. Part of that derives from his untimely death. But I think he and The Doors resonate today because they were musical poets, social revolutionaries who saw the inhumanity and evil in the world, and tried to change it, through music. With maybe a couple of exceptions, we do not now have comparably influential poets. Jim Morrison and The Doors call to us from the past.
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