American Masters: Season 24, Episode 3

The Doors: When You're Strange (12 May 2010)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | Biography | History
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,691 users   Metascore: 55/100
Reviews: 33 user | 106 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

A look at the late '60s and early '70s rock band The Doors, including rare exclusive footage.

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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexual content including references, nudity, drug material and language | See all certifications »
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12 May 2010 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$66,833 (USA) (9 April 2010)

Gross:

$238,632 (USA) (11 June 2010)
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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

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 »

Connections

Edited from HWY: An American Pastoral (1969) See more »

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User Reviews

 
In The Immortal Words of Jim Morrison "Pretty Cool, Pretty Neat!'
21 April 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Man, there's been a lot said about this movie, then there's the word, and the word is, go see When You're Strange.

Not a true documentary in the sense of a Ken Burns style intensive, exhaustive look into a subject, When You're Strange starts with scenes of Jim Morrison's HWY and uses the fictional device of Morrison hearing of his own death in Paris, then we see The Doors story pretty much from the beginning, and moves chronologically through The Doors career. This is The Doors through The Doors' own lens. All the footage derives from HWY and the concert film, Feast of Friends, that The Doors filmed in 1968. Also, included is footage from Ray Manzarek's student films, 60's period footage for context, and there's a lot of previously unseen footage, except for maybe the hardcore collectors.

For years Doors fans have been asking when and where, and if Jim Morrison's HWY and Feast of Friends will be released. Although, this isn't the stand alone films and a lot of the footage has been used before, Ray Manzarek used Feast of Friends footage for MTV videos in the 80's, and the Soft Parade video in 91. HWY has been bootlegged for years and only the fortunate few have seen it (although You Tube expanded this base). This is the movie Doors fans have been asking for. Writer/Director Tom DiCillo (Johnny Suede, Delirious) intricately weaves together HWY and Feast of Friends and provides a narrative the footage has lacked before, and perhaps if Jim Morrison had lived combining the two might have been a solution he might have chosen. DiCillo also makes choices that are a little riskier in presentation. As an example, he doesn't use the songs and the footage as obviously as before, usually, Riders On The Storm is presented with images of thunderclouds and storms, DiCillo chooses images of Vietnamese jungles flowering in explosion.

And the movie looks great! The footage has been restored and it looks as good as it did, if not better than when it was shot 40 years ago. Not only has the film been restored, so has the sound. Things have been pulled from the background you hear things that before were only muttered or obscured by crowd noises. The complete effect of the film is a much more immediate, impressionistic, visceral view of The Doors than before.

Narration for When You're Strange is provided by Johnny Depp and although it is a little basic and simplistic and sometimes a little intrusive there isn't enough expository footage to move the narrative along without adding the intrusion of contemporary or even period interviews. Depp's narration is subtle and understated and his phrasing while not overly dramatic has the timing of the poetic.

A lot of fans and The Doors have been critical of Oliver Stones 1991 movie The Doors (although, I think Stone was using the band as an archetype for the times, in an unstated trilogy of the 60's). The Doors have said they like this movie and I think the fans are going to like it too, and may consider it the definitive version/vision of the band. A good 3.5 stars movie.

You're going to dig this movie.


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