Sting and his wife Trudie Styler sat behind me last night at the world premiere of “When You’re Strange,” Tom DeCillo (“Lost in Oblivion”)’s documentary tribute to Jim Morrison, the Doors, and their times. As you may have noticed when Sting presented an award at last Sunday’s Golden Globes, the pop idol’s beard and thinning tresses are no longer blond but (gasp) black. Will we see Sting in a new movie sometime soon, or is this a dramatic new persona?
For his film DeCillo utilized only original footage shot between 1966 and 1971 by a former UCLA Film School buddy of Morrison and keyboardist Ray Manzarek. In addition to telling the individual stories of Morrison, and briefly (The Doors was, after all, always about Jim) of Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer/percussionist John Densmore, the documentary also sets the social, cultural, and political context of those alternatively magical, mysterious, and mad times: the Summer of Love, Flower Power, the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Kent State, Charles Manson. For those of us who survived this period, it’s a mesmerizing return trip.