They were genuine 60s icons, musical visionaries and a whole lot more, but while everyone knows the myth, few know the real story of The Doors. At last, however, that story is being told in When You’re Strange, the first, feature length documentary looking at one of America’s most “dark and brooding” bands. In the lead up to its DVD and Blu-ray release in the UK on August 30th, Juanita Appleby spent some time with founding member Ray Manzarek to talk about the film and also how The Doors’ music lives on.
Offering up only original footage – both unreleased and rarely seen as well as classic footage of the band in action at their peak – When You’re Strange is directed by Tom DiCillo and narrated by Johnny Depp. The project also brought the remaining Doors together.
Ray Manzarek commented on his and remaining members’ involvement by saying, “All three Doors were supervisors and worked closely with the director on putting the film together. Making sure that it was good. You know, making sure it conformed to our high standards because we never compromise.”
Using footage shot between 1966 and 1971, When You’re Strange presents the band and 1960s America in a captivating way. The film opens a window into the band’s world of fame, drugs and alcohol but always returns to their fierce commitment to their music. Though Jim Morrison’s struggles and excesses shape the film, this is the story of Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore; musicians whose insistence on artistic freedom and refusal to compromise inspired generations.
For the casual and die-hard fan alike, Manzarek says “I think he will take away the understanding of The Doors as human beings…as artists…as poets. And not drunkards.
“Die-hard fans will take away the same thing. He will see The Doors as…behind the scenes! Never before seen behind the scenes! Back stage…in the dressing room…in the recording studio…things you’ve never seen before. Doors at play. Doors at work. Doors having sex. That’s the best part. Jim Morrison just having sex.”
Whilst that last bit might be a slight exaggeration, the film is already inspiring many to go out, buy instruments and make music. This is part and parcel of the sympathetic and fly-on-the-wall clips of The Doors during the creative process.
And that creative process survives through the continuing efforts of Manzarek and Krieger. Both founding members have admitted to “carrying on the legacy of the music”. In fact, they just finished up a US and European tour on July 20th with Michael Matijevic formally of Steelheart.
“Michael is doing a great job. He’s dark, brooding and mysterious. Cut from the same cloth as Jim Morrison. He’s doing a marvellous, bang up job of singing Doors songs.”, says Manzarek.
This fascinating film offers a glimpse into one of the most acclaimed rock bands, captures their rock and roll lives to brilliant effect and is now available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray at zavvi.com.
Watch the When You’re Strange trailer here…