‘When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors’ Offers New Views And Old Clichés Of ‘60s Rock Group

Photo: Netflix
Photo: Netflix
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY BENJAMIN H. SMITH AND PUBLISHED BY DECIDER ON NOVEMBER 10, 2017.

There is perhaps no band in the pantheon of classic rock more self-important, more insufferable, and more overrated than The Doors. Sure, they had some great songs, sure, Jim Morrison was an interesting frontman who looked good in leather pants, and yeah, they sold a lot of records and influenced their fare share of musicians, but they were also inconsistent songwriters, a wildly inconsistent live band and anyone familiar with the greats of poetry, whether we’re talking W.B. Yeats or Allen Ginsberg, would have a hard time putting the writings of the “Lizard King” in the same leaguewhen. And all of that would be fine if we didn’t have to put up with a chorus of Baby Boomers endlessly telling us how great they were and how Jim Morrison was a shaman and the ‘60s was the greatest era for rock music and all the other horseshit platitudes.

The 2009 Doors documentary When You’re Strange, which is currently available for streaming on Netflix, is entertaining-enough and contains interesting rare footage but trades in all the same overwrought clichés as Oliver Stone’s ridiculous 1991 biopic The Doors. Put together by Tom DiCillo, who directed 1995’s excellent Living in Oblivion and Brad Pitt’s first leading role in Johnny Suede, the film features archival interviews and performances along with material from Jim Morrison’s 1969 experimental film, HWY: An American Pastoral, which has never been commercially released.

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