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Doc aims to tell accurate story of The Doors

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
April 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Doors emerged from the Los Angeles music scene 45 years ago. The guys achieved the heights of success, while only recording and touring for about five years. In 1991, director Oliver Stone tried to tell the story about their "Strange" days, but the band was not pleased with the result. Now, a new documentary aims to get the story right.The new documentary "When You're Strange" gives us a new look at seminal 60s rock band, The Doors.

A band burst onto the music scene in 1965, but after only 54 months together the door to their world was slammed shut with the sudden death of lead singer, Jim Morrison.

"That's the tragic arc of the tale," said keyboardist Ray Manzarek. "We started off as young men in Venice Beach, California, and attained such heights from nothing. Then came the tragedy of success. Success devoured Jim Morrison."

Tom DiCillo directed and wrote the film, but doesn't tell it in traditional documentary fashion: there's no current footage, and no talking heads of the band reminiscing about the old days.

DiCillo scoured reams of footage from the band's archive, much of which was previously unseen, and then used Johnny Depp's voice as the narrator.

DiCillo also discovered a copy of a 1969, short 35mm art film Morrison made called "Highway," a film that stars the late singer.

Surviving band members Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore are happy to see the story of The Doors told their way -- even though it does stir up a lot of old feelings.

"Watching the film I felt joy of the early days hanging out with Jim and hoping to make it," said Densmore. "Then there was sadness of course with his demise. And I felt pride over, gosh, I guess this music is gonna be around."

Manzarek says they weren't seeking fame and fortune. They were an organist, a drummer, a guitarist, and a beat poet who just wanted to make music.

"When You're Strange" opens in limited release on Friday in the Southland.