When You’re Strange. A film about The Doors. Well yes, that is an exceedingly accurate description. In essence it is a lot of performance and recording footage with a few press interviews thrown in along with millions of hysterical fans all shown in chronological order, narrated by Johnny Depp. The Doors were strange, that was their appeal, they still sell over a million records a year because kids like me still love the sound.
Jim Morrison was the personality that most of the fans paid to see. He was high, he was drunk, he was pretty much off his fucking face most of the time but he had something. Something that just makes you want to listen to him or watch him. From the film I got no real sense that the others were too bothered by this, at worst they were pissed off because he was completely unreliable and recording seemed to be a nightmare.
According to the website for the movie “the group’s extraordinary power would hardly have been possible without the virtuosic keyboard tapestries of Ray Manzarek, the gritty, expressive fretwork of guitarist Robby Krieger and the supple, dynamically rich grooves of drummer John Densmore.”
It’s true, the three of them kept the band alive, it also seems like they kept Jim alive. And they sound like no one else.
This film sucks you in, it’s like watching the mid sixties sitting on Jim Morrison’s shoulder, or rather in his shadow. The mass hysteria surrounding him made me feel as if I was being swept along, just as it seemed the band were, from someone’s garage to the Hollywood Bowl. Morrison loved it, lived off of it even. The same thing happened to the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but this seems slightly more intense, maybe because five and a half years really aren’t many for such an explosive success and it was most denifitely a closed book in 1971 with Morrison’s death. As the Beatles were when John Lennon died, but they were together much longer, and with the Stones, well they’re still touring.
But The Doors? They were extraordinary, they didn’t even have a bass player.
Until they borrowed Elvis’s.
Johnny Depp’s narration never gets annoying which makes a refreshing change, if anything his voice was calming. It gave logic to the footage being displayed, and it gave logic to some of Morissons most outrageous stunts. The footage itself was edited very well indeed, it seems much less contrived than making an entire film from scratch, everything feels more real if you are aware of the fact that yes, that is Jim Morrison and not an actor with a good wig.