'Strange' approach in Doors doc

LIZ BRAUN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:10 PM ET

Ever since the Lizard King checked out early, myths and legends have been piling up about The Doors.

Now Jim Morrison and his bandmates get the documentary treatment in When You’re Strange, a film from Tom DiCillo (Living In Oblivion, Box of Moon Light) that involves plenty of music and plenty of archival footage, some of it previously unseen. The movie takes an unusual approach in that it’s all Doors, all the time — an historical narrative that mentions other artists but presents no third-party interviews.

In other words, plenty of Doors and Doors music from the past, but you won’t see any wrinkly rockers reminiscing here.

That’s both good and bad.

Perhaps to emphasize the concert aspect of When You’re Strange, the movie is being released on a special national premiere basis, playing Thursday night at 30 selected Cineplex theatres across Canada — or at least from British Columbia to Quebec (sorry, Maritimes).

In some cities, there will be a second showing Saturday afternoon (April 17) at 1 p.m. local time, so check your listings. And starting Friday in Toronto, the movie plays for a week at Canada Square theatre.

Serious Doors fans may not find too much new here to chew upon, but DiCillo’s version of the band comes wrapped in an historical context that’s useful for the uninitiated. That involves the usual ’60s shots of various Kennedy brothers, Kent State, Elvis, Jimi, Janis, etc.

Best of all in the movie is footage from weirdo experimental flick HWY, which Morrison appeared in around 1969. He’s featured as a wandering observer in the desert and on the highway. As for the rest, you know the drill: Morrison as artist, poet, free-spirit, drug user, heavy drinker, performance idol — it’s all here.

The big draw on When You’re Strange is that it’s narrated by Johnny Depp — but even everyone’s favorite pirate can’t add much zip to the hagiography-like writing. For example, “This much is true: You can’t burn out if you’re not on fire,” is something Depp actually has to say out loud near the end of the movie. It sounds a lot like the very myth-making the movie is supposed to dispel.

The bottom line with When You’re Strange is pretty simple, however: No matter how much you know about The Doors, it’s always a trip to see and to hear them, and this documentary has all the music, concert footage and shots of band camaraderie to warm a rock fan’s heart.

When You’re Strange will be released on DVD in the summer.

(This film is not rated)

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca


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