Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When You're Strange

This is one hell of a documentary film about The Doors, one of the world's greatest bands that was gone before they really hit their stride. It's unlike any other "rocumentary" I've seen before -- there aren't any present interviews with the surviving band members. The entire film is basically constructed from archival footage. For the most part, the moving pictures go well with the music and narration. There's a spine-chilling performance of The End, where it's interspersed with photographs of deceased like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, MLK and Robert Kennedy. Also, the lyrics of Riders On The Storm seems to fit well with footage from the Vietnam War. I've never seen any old performance pieces of the band prior, so most of the scenes were real eye-openers for me. There's some really amazing candid shots of the band and especially Jim Morrison offstage, and you can tell behind that face that he was a troubled soul. Even the footage of him insulting the crowd and his unruly behavior is rather shocking when you actually see it.

The film only runs at 90mins, so there's probably a lot more stuff that could be told about the band. But here we are just given the basic hard facts about their all too short career. The script by director Tom Dicillo is well-written and not convoluted, and who better to read it than Johnny Depp? He doesn't try too hard to narrate, but his voice is perfect for this kind of thing. His monotonous tone almost gives a film-noirish mood to it. I also like how the story is told in present tense (until the very end where Jim dies), perhaps to tell us their music is still relevant today as it was back then. We get to see snippets of Jim's own film at some points, like the first part where he's driving across America in his car and the radio reports his death and rumors of his faking death -- it's funnily ironic and sad at the same time. One begins to ponder as to whether Jim Morrison really did fake his own death to escape from the world.