Monday, January 15, 2007

Movie Review: The Doors: Collector’s Edition 3 ½ Stars

A comprehensive, if uneven treat for Doors’ fans, the first portion of this collection of material from the classic rock band contains several “videos” pieced together from Super 8 home movies of the band, live TV performance footage, archival photographs and period newsreels.

The best of these cuts are the live performances of “Break On Through,” “Light My Fire,” “Road House Blues” and “Touch Me.” These outstanding clips show the Doors doing what the Doors did best: performing organ-driven dirges and allowing Jim Morrison to be a pompous, bloated rock star--the psychedelic Elvis.

Inexplicably, a lot of the archival footage is intercut with random, recently-shot material, an unnecessary attempt to thread the songs together, ill-conceived by the remaining members of The Doors. A shining example of this travesty is the video shot by Ray Manzarek for “LA Woman,” which plays like a karaoke video, and a really bad one at that.

The other songs on the collection include “People Are Strange,” “Wild Child,” “The Unknown Soldier,” “Texas Radio and The Big Beat,” “Love Me Two Times,” “Horse Latitudes,” “Moonlight Drive,” “The End” and “Crystal Ship.”

The Doors Live At The Hollywood Bowl follows the collection. Shot on July 5, 1968, almost three years to the day prior to Jim Morrison’s rock star death, the performance foreshadows the legendary Morrison to come. His jowls are just beginning to sag, a first step toward the fat, whiskey-bloated American Poet he became. Obviously stoned, Morrison musters enough energy to scream on cue and do little rock-and-roll standing leaps, but mostly stumbles and staggers around the stage, supporting himself on the microphone stand as he growls into it. An excellent acid rock experience.

Keyboardist Manzarek propels the show onward with his carnival-esque calliope-playing, backed by John Densmore’s rudimentary drumming, and guitarist Robbie Kreiger’s blues noodling. For no explainable reason whatsoever, the Doors are joined onstage throughout the set by a mysterious man who hides in shadows at the back of the stage.

The playlist included “When The Music Is Over,” “Alabama Song,” “Back Door Man,” “5 to 1,” “Moonlight Drive,” “Horse Latitudes”, “Celebration of the Lizard,” “Spanish Caravan,” “Unknown Soldier,” “Light My Fire” and “The End.”

The third section is entitled The Soft Parade, but has very little to do with their album of the same name. Again, it is a collection of archival films and photographs, but far more effective in that there are no cheesy random shots added. The Soft Parade contains in-the-studio scenes of recording sessions, rare interviews with the band and a very cool conversation between Morrison and an Evangelical and Reform Church minister.

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