Monday, April 05, 2010

See Jim Morrison alive again

See Jim Morrison alive again

There is something odd about When You're Strange, a new documentary about The Doors. And it hits you in the first frames.
The scene is an abandoned car on the side of a California highway. A man slithers slowly out of an open window. He has a beard. He seems dazed. He is Jim Morrison.

Or ... is it an actor playing the volatile lead singer and poet who died in 1971 at age 27? After all, when did Morrison star in a movie?

"I just can't get away from the is-it-Jim, is-it-not-Jim? thing," says director Tom DiCillo, whose feature-length film opens in select theaters nationwide Friday and airs on PBS May 12.

The answer: It is indeed Morrison, who in 1969 put together a short 35mm art film called HWY that stars the singer as a drifter storming across the desert in a growlingShelby GT500 sports car.

This rare footage is part of spools of previously unseen clips that give When You're Strange its heft. What's more, while most music documentaries cut away to interviews with surviving band members, DiCillo opted to add only a lean voice-over by Johnny Depp.

"In this movie, The Doors will never get old," he says.

For keyboardist and founding member Ray Manzarek, watching Strange— which was produced with the band's blessing — was a welcome ride back in time.

"What really turns me on is seeing Jim alive again, our buddy who disappeared off the planet," says Manzarek, who still performs Doors music with guitarist Robby Krieger. (Drummer John Densmore records jazz albums, lectures and works on film projects.)

Besides the HWY footage, memorable scenes include Morrison comforting a bloody female fan who was hit by a chair, and the band rehearsing in Krieger's beachside pad. But it's the music that echoes through time.

Doors fans get more than just Strange to satisfy their cravings: This week, Rhino releases a soundtrack, and two albums, Absolutely Live and Live in New York, on vinyl.

Take a look at our Doors Catalog at Mystic Rock Boutique

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