"When Youíre Strange" Blu-ray Review
June 25, 2010 by Zach Demeter
Eagle Rock Entertainment, the UK based independent, has licensed the North American DVD and Blu-Ray rights to When Youíre Stange: A Film About The Doors from Rhino Entertainment. The documentary uncovers historic and previously unseen footage of the illustrious rock band and provides new insight into the revolutionary impact of its music and legacy. Directed by award-winning writer/director Tom DiCillo and narrated by Johnny Depp, the film is a riveting account of the bandís history. Produced by Wolf Films/Strange Pictures, in association with Rhino Entertainment, the 90-minute film is the first feature documentary about The Doors. Additional credits for the film include producers Peter Jankowski, Dick Wolf, John Beug and Jeff Jampol. When Youíre Strange had its theatrical debut on April 9 and will be released through Eagle Vision on standard DVD and Blu-Ray on June 29th.
When Youíre Strange is a breathtaking journey into the hypnotic world of The Doors. The film uncovers historic and previously unseen footage of the illustrious rock quartet and provides new insight into the revolutionary impact of its music and legacy. Written and directed by Tom DiCillo, narrated by Johnny Depp and produced by legendary producer, Dick Wolf, the film is a riveting account of the bandís history.
ďRiveting account of the bandís historyĒ is a curious way to describe this movie because in truth it has very little to do with The Doors at all. I mean, yes, it does focus on the band through their scant 54-month career, but it really is more of a biopic about Jim Morrison. This shouldnít be surprising in the least because in many ways The Doors really was just Jim Morrisonóit was his antics and notorious drug-fueled stage performances that drove the band to such heights of stardom and success. Of course as anyone who is familiar with 60s and 70s musicians knows, that was the set of decades in which the best and brightest talent flashed out quickly thanks to a little too much of the mind altering drugs that often fueled their music.
When Youíre Strange is quite possibly one of the best documentaries Iíve ever seen about a band, simply because itís all just archive footage. It tells a narrative tale of course so itís not wandering around aimlessly without purpose, but throughout the ninety-six minutes that it runs itís truly just a ton of old archive footage. Iíve never seen so much footage dug up that was able to follow along with the story the director was trying to tell. DiCillo undoubtedly did a truly spectacular job just digging up all of this footage and that in of itself is the real reason to check it out. If you are a fan of The Doors at all, the cornucopia of footage paired with the fact all the music we actually hear is from The Doors themselves, it just makes for a really entertaining way to present a documentaryÖand one that is probably pretty rare, to be honest. I was surprised by some of the footage that was presented here.
Of course there is another component to the documentary that makes it breeze along so wellóJohnny Deppís narration. Itís really quite understated in a way since it never truly stands out to the point where you keep thinking ďhey thatís Johnny Depp!Ē This is a great thing, of course, but Depp really strikes a nice flow with the documentary, never once really breaking the illusion that the documentary creates. Deppís narration definitely helped the documentary not only gain a bit more notoriety (not that it doesnít speak for itself, but a big-name commentary never hurts) but also just added another level of enjoyment to the whole production.
Overall youíre going to get the most out of this documentary if you were previously a fan of The Doors, but I really enjoyed it quite a bit even though Iíve only a rudimentary knowledge of their works. Itís a really well done documentary, although this is more a tribute than a real expose pieceówe knew all about the majority of the topics discussed here, but theyíre presented in an original and highly polished way that makes it feel exciting regardless. Overall a Recommended outing.
Eagle Rock Entertainment brings When Youíre Strange to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. A booklet inside contains information and photos from the documentary/band and an additional fold out poster of the documentaries cover is included as well. As another added bonus even the disc art is originalóEagle Rock really went all out for this release, and it shows with the menu system as well which follows their easy-to-navigate formula.
Video is actually presented in 1080p for which may be an Eagle Rock first, although itís rather squandered here considering itís all archive footage that looks genuinely horrible most of the time. I donít know if the Blu-ray transfer even helped any extra detail to be squeezed out of the picture, but if it did itís the absolute bare minimum. Audio is a similar story, as we get both a PCM 2.0 and a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, but neither impress. Iíd be more inclined to pick the PCM just because itís closer to the source audio that we do get and Deppís narration doesnít require any kind of enveloping sound field.
Thereís a single bonus feature which is a Exclusive Interview with Jimís father. It apparently marks the first time his father has ever talked publicly about Jimís life and itís definitely an interesting (albeit brief) addition to the disc. It definitely wouldnít have fit in with the documentary itself since itís a talking head piece, but, again, a real nice bonus feature for the fans.
Overall a Recommended disc.
When Youíre Strange arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on June 29th.