WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE: THE NEW DOORS DOCUMENTARY


FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

As much as he respects VAL KILMER, THE DOORS guitarist ROBBY KRIEGER thinks that the best person to portray JIM MORRISON on screen is JIM MORRISON himself.

He feels that the new documentary WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE — out on DVD this week — puts together a much more accurate portrait of the late rock singer than OLIVER STONE’S 1991 biopic.

“This gives you a realistic image of how Jim really was,” ROBBY said in a telephone interview from his Los Angeles home.

“I think when you see the Oliver Stone movie — I’m amazed at how good Val Kilmer was — but, you know, the problem with that movie is that the script was kind of stupid. It doesn’t really capture how Jim was at all. This gives you a much better insight into how his mind worked, I think.”

WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE, directed by TOM DiCILLO and narrated by actor JOHNNY DEPP (a big DOORS fan, according to ROBBY) is the first feature documentary about the influential California psychedelic rockers.

Tom DiCillo blends historic footage – shot between 1966 and 1971 – and some rarely seen material, including precious snippets of HWY (the short film written and shot by JIM MORRISON) and Feast Of Friends, the band’s long shelved concert film.

And while ROBBY praised the film’s presentation of JIM — who died in a bathtub in Paris in 1971 — it’s not because he thinks it’s fawning.

JIM MORRISON is presented as a special talent, to be sure, but the film also delves into his battle with alcohol (and its toxic effect on the rest of the band), his hunger for attention and his wandering sense of priorities.

ROBBY was pleased that the film didn’t pull any punches in its presentation of the rock icon. In fact, he said the band’s surviving members opted not to get too involved in the making of the film to preserve its honesty.

“That’s why you can’t do it yourself, because you wouldn’t put any negative stuff in if you were doing it yourself. You have to have that balance.”

The film explains how THE DOORS — which also featured keyboardist RAY MANZAREK and drummer JOHN DENSMORE — quickly rose to become one of the most controversial bands to come out of America in the 1960s, an ascension that began after the kaleidoscopic Krieger penned tune LIGHT MY FIRE hit #1 on the charts.

Even for fans, the movie features bits of interesting trivia: that the band liked JIM’S poetry better than his voice, that JIM worshipped Elvis Presley and later FRANK SINATRA and that the group’s first royalty cheque amounted to a tidy sum of $50,000 apiece.

“I think we kind of blew it,” ROBBY said of the cash.

And the film tracks the rare hysteria generated by the group.

In particular, the infamous 1969 Miami concert where JIM’S provocative behaviour led to allegations that he exposed himself to the crowd (no photographic proof has been produced that this ever happened) creates some compelling footage.

The film doesn’t linger on JIM MORRISON’S deterioration the way OLIVER STONE’S movie did. But Tom DiCillo’s script suggests that after a certain point, fans were as much attracted to the unpredictable exhibition of JIM’S unravelling as they were to THE DOORS hypnotic bohemian psychedelia.

“It got out of hand after a while,” ROBBY remarked of the band’s slide into spectacle.

“In those days, the audience was very square. They didn’t have long hair. Nowadays, you can’t tell the audience from the performers. Back then, it was totally different.”

ROBBY is “really happy” with the movie, giving particular credit to the crisp editing.

And he said revisiting old film of his former bandmate wasn’t a difficult process, given how much time has passed.

“It’s not as though we haven’t seen any footage. It’s always there. I try to remember the good things.”

“And you kind of block out the painful stuff.”

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