When You’re Strange (2010)

Screw you Oliver Stone! This is how the real story goes!

Composed entirely of original footage from 1966-71, Tom DiCillo’s documentary about the Doors filters truth from myth, reveals new insight into Jim Morrison and his bandmates, and captures the essence of the iconic rock group and the era. DiCillo’s film pays tribute to the Doors and their music and to a generation’s struggle for individuality and authenticity during an unstable and transformative epoch in America.

I love The Doors’ music. All of their songs from Love Me Two Times, The End, Light My Fire, and of course everybody’s fav, Break on Through, they just all capture my soul into this world of dark and surreal symbolism. Which is what this film captures so well.

But the idea that it captures the bands essence is also its problem. The film, much like the band itself, is moody as hell. There is just this dark feeling in the film, with its monotonic narration from Johnny Depp, and creepy feeling, that may turn some viewers off. I was turned off a bit by this feeling, but then when the music kicked in, I was taken back in the film.

Another problem with this film, is that although it does a great job of showing us details about The Doors during the careers, we never quite get to understand who all of these people are, except for Jim Morrison. The remaining band members didn’t want to get too involved with the project, but yet, I kind of wish they did, because we barely get to see or hear any of the stories about these three other guys. I think we mostly understand the Jim Morrison story, but we never do with these dudes, and this could have been the perfect movie to show it off, however, it just mostly shines on Morrison again.

Despite the negatives, the film is a mediocre rockumentary. The soundtrack consists of all Doors music which I love, and it moves at a a great pace where it almost matched everything that the film is talking about at that time. Also, a lot of the footage in this film is just perfect and the editing is great. Some of these videos I have never even seen before, and are pretty rare, as well as they add a lot to the wildness of The Doors, showing plenty of nutty concert footage, as well as videos that Jim took himself.

Consensus: When You’re Strange might not tell the full story, and be a bit much for viewers, if your not fans of The Doors already, but it has great rare footage, as well as great music to move along with the story, and tell us just about one of the best bands of all-time.



  1. Hey Dan,
    I haven’t seen this film yet, nor reviewed your review of Olive Stone’s biopic of The Doors, but I wanted to chime in and say hello. When time permits, drop by my movie review site Above The Line – lets see where we agree to disagree! I’ll most likely rent this film (thanks for bringing it to my attention) but I see where you point out elements of the production that might turn some away – The Doors, the music, and Jim Morrison will most likely entertain their fans but the real question is how do others see the film. Have you found other reviews of this film that stray from yours?

    Anyhoo, I’ll take a look around->cheers

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