Being a fan for sometime now, I like to see what other filmmakers think about Jim Morrison. Forty years after his death, Morrison still fascinates people. And its not because of his lifestyle, behavior, his songs or his poems but even his untimely death. Morrison alongwith Doors tried to change the world and the society through music and this documentary “When You’re Strange” recounts the legacy of the “The Doors” and Jim Morrison brilliantly. Using archival and backstage footage, the film shows all the chaos, change, and integration of the band’s roots and rocky ride with then-current society.
I always felt I had some view on the band but this documentary gave me a new perspective. Unlike other movies on him, Morrison has been treated like a human being here. The documentary shows Jim as a person evolving over time. The history of the band is subtly told with some of the narrative retells information that the band’s devotees have known for decades, like the origin of the name “The Doors”, a reference to Aldous Huxley’s 1954 book “The Doors Of Perception” etc. There are few information which can amuse new fans like the very first song Robby Krieger wrote was “Light My Fire”.
The film has a choppy, unique structure with quite a lot of symbolic significance. The never-before-seen visuals, Morrison’s on-stage performances and backstage personality etc is extremely interesting. The music suits the whole narration. The movie/documentary shows a chronological look at everything from the formation of the band in 1965, to it’s first gigs, and first album, to Morrison’s death, after years of alcohol and drug abuse. As the story moves on, we see archival footage of rehearsals, performances, and private moments including a Miami concert resulting in Morrison’s arrest and trial for indecency.
Overall after watching Oliver Stone’s movie about Morrison, I believe this one was a good change and a different version direction wise. The movie has been nominated at a lot of film festivals and was the winner at Sundance. A must watch for a film student and also for Morrison fans
Rating- 4.5 out of 5