When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors (15)

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The Independent Culture

Tom DiCillo's documentary about American rock band The Doors is rather ploddingly dominated by the personality of their lead singer Jim Morrison, whose death in a Paris hotel room in 1971 has burnished his myth ever since.

The band is a gift to any documentarist of the 1960s counterculture, for it has become difficult not to hear their music when "iconic" footage of riots, peace marches and assassinations rolls by; can we ever listen to their long dirge "The End" without thinking of Vietnam? Morrison, as recounted in Johnny Depp's narration, saw himself as poet, rebel and shaman, though others – such as his band members – saw him increasingly as a hopeless drunk and a terminal liability. Indeed, the cumulative effect of this film is to enhance one's respect for The Doors (John Densmore, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek) and to diminish the same for Morrison, whose posturing now looks like the most fatuous exhibitionism. But that ghostly sonorous voice of his endures, and I came out of this wanting to listen to "Touch Me" and "Break on Through".