Eagle Rock Entertainment // 1968 // 135 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 9th, 2012
Prepare to get your fire lit.
The Doors, worshipped heroes of college kids everywhere, arrive on Blu-ray in one of their first full-length feature concerts. Lead singer Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger command the stage in this gritty, sonic-induced performance that showcases the band at the top of their game.
The set list for this 1968 Hollywood Bowl experience...
* Show Start/Intro
* When the Music's Over
* Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)
* Back Door Man
* Five to One
* Back Door Man (Reprise)
* The WASP
* Hello, I Love You
* Moonlight Drive
* Horse Latitudes
* A Little Game
* The Hill Dwellers
* Spanish Caravan
* Hey, What Would You Guys Like to Hear?
* Wake Up!
* Light My Fire
* Light My Fire (Segue)
* The Unknown Solider
* The End
* The End (Segue)
I knew some guys who loved The Doors when we were in college. You may know the type: black light posters hanging around their rooms, the faint smell of marijuana lingering in the air. These were the kind of guys who never seemed to have a care, because they were stoned so often listening to "Hello, I Love You" for the 14,892 time. I have the feeling there were a lot of people who had this kind of experience, either with The Doors, The Grateful Dead, or Snoop Dogg (maybe while sipping on Gin and juice, I don't know).
I can safely say I was not someone who went through a blacklight poster phase, nor was I into burning incense, hiding a bong in my dresser, or listening to Jim Morrison belt out songs about L.A. Women. In my later years, I ended up copying The Doors greatest hits onto my iPod, to have their songs available for BBQs and parties. I saw Oliver Stone's biopic The Doors when it was first released, but it had little impact on me. My knowledge of The Doors is knowing they were a rather popular band that burned brightly and faded quickly, due to their charismatic leader's death in a bathtub.
The Doors: Live at the Bowl '68 is a full-length concert featuring Jim Morrison and the boys playing their hearts out. It seems to have been created for both die hard fans of the band and casual listeners. While I recognized many of the tunes -- "Light My Life", "The End", "Hello, I Love You" -- there's a lot of music here from the band's back catalog -- "Moonlight Drive", "Five To One", "Horse Latitudes." There's no denying Morrison was truly a dynamic and electric performer. When he's on screen, you can hardly take your eyes off of him. The show may not be flashy, but it is a fine encapsulation of their music. Bong not included.
Presented in 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen. The image is good, but a far cry from great. Film elements are often soft and feature a fair amount of DNR scrubbing. Because it was filmed almost forty five years ago (!), the camera work sometimes comes off as rough, with angles that are blocked by band mates or audience members, but never enough to become distracting to the overall viewing. I haven't seen any other Doors concert films, so I can't comment on how this measures up, but is pretty good for a concert close to being half a century old.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is far more impressive than the visuals. For those with a home theatre set up, this is truly an enveloping experience. Each song comes through crystal clear with nary imperfection. I was very impressed with the quality Eagle Rock was able to achieve for this HD upgrade. For those with lesser equipment, we also get the LCPM 2.0 Stereo mix.
Bonus features include a twenty minute featurette on the performance venue ("Echoes from the Bowl"); interviews with band members Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, and others, discussing that particular concert; a featurette on restoring the concert footage ("Reworking the Doors"); two bonus performances from The Smother's Brothers Comedy Hour and The Jonathan Winters Show; and a music video for the song "Gloria."
The Doors: Live at the Bowl '68 (Blu-ray) is a must own for Morrison fans, though casual fans may want to consider a rental before buying. The concert itself is good, but the shaky and amateurish camera work isn't quite up to our modern expectations of a concert film.
Not Guilty. Now show me the way to the next whiskey bar.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (Bonus Features Only)
* French (Bonus Features Only)
* Spanish (Bonus Features Only)
Running Time: 135 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Performances
* Music Video