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When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors(2009)
A journey into the hypnotic world of The Doors featuring previously unseen footage to chart the band's beginnings at UCLA's film school through to frontman Jim Morrison's mysterious death in 1971.
For more about When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors and the When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors Blu-ray release, see the When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors Blu-ray Review
Starring: John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison
Narrator: Johnny Depp
Director: Tom DiCillo
» See full cast & crew
When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, July 13, 2010
Veteran filmmaker Tom DiCillo's "When You're Strange" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include an interview with Jim Morrison's father and sister and the film's original theatrical trailer. In English, without optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Tom DiCillo's documentary film When You're Strange offers a controversial but hugely entertaining look at the legacy of one of the greatest rock bands ever - The Doors. The film was made with the full cooperation of the surviving band members, and is narrated by actor Johnny Depp.
Practically the entire film consists of archival footage, some of which has not been seen before. Different photos, home movies, TV shows and TV news reports are carefully put together in an attempt to provide a real feel of the complex socio-political environment in America during the 60s and 70s in which the Doors thrived. Practically all major Doors hits can be heard in the film as well.
DiCillo begins his film with the news about Jim Morrison's death in Paris. What follows up is a mix of speculations, none of which are made by DiCillo – he only highlights the type of speculations the media in America produced at the time. There is no commentary from DiCillo, experts, or talking heads on the credibility of these speculations.
There is a lot more in the film about Morrison than there is about his bandmates - keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. Most of the footage from the first half of the film is primarily about Morrison's fascination with music and poetry, as well as his early drinking problem. The tension between Morison and his father, a Navy admiral who fought in the Vietnam War, is also well documented.
Footage from Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore's first concerts as a band is quickly followed by observations about America's youth and the country's political leaders. Later on, footage from important political events, such as the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the Kent State University massacre, regularly appears next to footage from some of the band's most controversial concerts. Again, there is no commentary from DiCillo, experts, or talking heads.
During the second half of the film, the focus of attention is entirely on Morrison's serious drinking problem. The effect alcohol has on Morrison, on and off the stage, is devastating. After the notorious Miami incident – during a concert at Dinner Key Auditorium on March 1, 1969, Morrison apparently flashed his genitals, which resulted in arrest warrant issued by Dade County Sherriff's office – Morrison also becomes addicted to cocaine. Though in the court Morrison is backed by his bandmates, in the studio they are all frustrated with him.
The Doors and Morrison's final days have been a subject of massive speculations for years. In When You're Strange they are not. With the terrific archival footage provided by the surviving members of The Doors, DiCillo effectively chronicles the events that led to the band's demise, and Morrison's premature death, but there is no attempt to explain, condemn, or justify them.
Depp's narration feels a bit dry at times, especially during the second half of the film, but it is nevertheless effective.
When You're Strange ends with the following line: "You can't burn out if you are not on fire". It definitely sums up The Doors as a band, and Morrison's controversial life.
Note: In 2009, When You're Strange won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was also screened at the Berlin International Film Festival as well as the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Tom DiCillo's When You're Strange arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment.
The original content looks very strong. Detail is excellent, clarity pleasing and contrast levels consistent. The color-scheme is also good. During the desert footage, yellows, blues, brown, grays and blacks look rich and well saturated. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not a serious issue of concern. There are no serious stability issues either.
Naturally, the quality of the archival footage varies. Some of the TV shows look dated, but there is plenty of concert footage that look very good. There are plenty of very high quality photos that are included as well. For the record, the disc does not have a chapter menu. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Eagle Rock Entertainment have not provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is very strong. The film features a number of hits by The Doors, and all of them sound excellent. The narration by Johnny Depp, however, is somewhat uneven. During a couple of scenes, I had to turn up the volume on my system to understand what he was saying. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is free of pops, cracks, or hiss.
The English LPCM 2.0 track is also strong. I do prefer the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track because there are a couple of very good ambient effects early into the film, but in terms of dynamics, the English LPCM 2.0 track certainly does not suffer tremendously.
When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Conversations - exclusive interviews with Jim Morrison's father, Admiral George C. Morrison, and his sister. These are incredibly moving interviews that effectively reveal how terribly misunderstood Jim was even by his own family. In English, not subtitled. (9 min, 1080p).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In English, not subtitled. (2 min, 1080p).
When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
When You're Strange is a fantastic documentary film by veteran director Tom DiCillo. If you have even the slightest interest in The Doors and their music, do not miss it. The disc also contains an incredibly moving interview with Jim Morrison's father. Bravo Eagle Rock Entertainment for bringing this wonderful film to Blu-ray. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Doors Documentary When You’re Strange Announced on Blu-ray - April 30, 2010
Eagle Rock Entertainment has licensed the North American Blu-Ray rights to When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors from Rhino Entertainment. It will be released through Eagle Vision on Blu-Ray on June 29. Directed by award-winning writer/director Tom DiCillo ...
• Eagle Rock May-August Blu-ray Slate Revealed - April 26, 2010
Eagle Rock Entertainment has announced its Blu-ray slate for May-August 2010, including upcoming releases from Black Sabbath, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Michael Bolton, The Moody Blues, Tom Petty, The Shadows, and Tupac, as well as a documentary movie on The Door ...
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