When You're Strange (2009)

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Released 6-Apr-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Character-Rare interview with Jim Morrison's father and sister
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 81:53 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tom DiCillo

Madman Entertainment
Starring Johnny Depp
John Densmore
Robby Krieger
Ray Manzarek
Jim Morrison
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music The Doors
Tom DiCillo

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     When I was sixteen, I saw my first R rated film in a cinema. Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now had just opened in Melbourne and despite being underage, I was determined to be one of the first to see it. As you can probably tell, it was an occasion I have never forgotten. But there was another revelation to come from that day. Not only did I see a masterpiece of cinema, I also heard one of the most haunting pieces of sixties rock music for the very first time. The song was The End by The Doors and it would lead me on a life-long discovery and appreciation of their music. Hearing The End in the context intended by Coppola was simply amazing.

     Over the years many books and films have documented the life of Jim Morrison and The Doors, including Oliver Stone's controversial 1991 film, The Doors. More recently though, American writer/director Tom DiCillo produced a documentary which chronologically details the rise and fall of the band. When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors has won wide respect from critics and The Doors fans alike. The film is an "in a nutshell" style documentary, which is well paced and to the point. As a result it makes an excellent introduction to anyone new to the band.

     I am not sure of the degree of co-operation (if any) from band members in the making of this film. When You're Strange doesn't feature any new or recent interviews. The film relies instead on Johnny Depp's competent narration to drive the story of the band. While initially I thought this a little strange, I am willing to concede that it definitely assisted in maintaining the flow of narrative. It goes without saying that a significant portion of When You're Strange focuses on the mystic and ultimate tragedy of iconic lead singer, Jim Morrison. It also features some rare and fascinating footage of Morrison and the band, which helps to set this documentary above the average. Naturally, the music of The Doors consolidates the narrative and will probably leave most fan's wishing the film was an hour or so longer. Highly Recommended.

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Transfer Quality


     When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.81:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

     Although this film is comprised of footage from many sources, the level of sharpness is surprisingly good. Naturally, film grain was evident in much of the early stock footage. Blacks were generally strong and clean, exhibiting minimal noise. Shadow detail was also quite good. The strength of colour ranged from the vibrant excellence of recent footage to the more muted tones of the sixties stock. There is also some black and white footage incorporated into the film. The transfer delivers a nicely balanced result, with no adverse problems with colour. There were no MPEG artefacts evident. Film-to-video artefacts were negligible and film artefacts were basically consistent with the condition of stock footage. Overall though, the image quality of this documentary was very clean.

     Unfortunately, there are no subtitles on this DVD.

     This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change was mildly disruptive at 50:11.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There are two audio tracks available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

     There were no problems with the quality of the dialogue and audio sync appeared accurate throughout. It goes without saying the bulk of the music used in the film comes from The Doors. Additional music is credited to the film's director, Tom DiCillo.

     The Dolby 5.1 mix delivered pretty good results, with music and crowd noise the main source of surround activity. This was also the main focus for the subwoofer, which was not used aggressively.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     The main menu is static, 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of a live performance of Roadhouse Blues.

Interviews with Jim Morrison's Family (8:31)

     This fascinating but way too short piece features Jim's late father, Admiral George S. Morrison, and sister, Anne Morrison-Chewning, talking about their memories of Jim. There is a strong sense of sadness and missed opportunity, especially in the discussion with Jim's father. I'm sure there is a much longer edit of this interview around somewhere and, aside from it being a very worthy inclusion, it's just a shame that we only get to experience eight and a half minutes.

Theatrical Trailer - When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors (1:49)

Madman Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.


     I couldn't find a reference to an American DVD edition of When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors. However, there is a US Blu-ray edition which is Region A "locked". This Blu-ray presents the film in 1080p, featuring a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track and a PCM stereo track. Apart from the Madman trailers, the US Blu-ray features the very same extras as the Madman DVD release.


     When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors is a fascinating "in a nutshell" documentary about the origins of one of America's most important bands. The film also delivers a brief expose into one of rock music's true icons, Jim Morrison.

     The video and audio transfers are both excellent. While the extras may be light on, the short interview is worthy and fascinating.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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