Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: 'The Doors: Feast of Friends'

In 1968, Jim Morrison's buddy Paul Ferrara accompanied The Doors on tour with his 16mm camera in hand. He shot some footage of the band on stage at the Hollywood Bowl and elsewhere, Jim rapping with an Evangelical minister, and babbling while abusing a grand piano backstage. After the tour, Ferrara cut the footage together and laid over studio versions of "Wild Child", "Moonlight Drive", "Five to One", and "Not to Touch the Earth", finishing the film with a sixteen-minute rendition of "The End" from the Hollywood Bowl. Feast of Friends screened at a few festivals, won an award, and then went missing only to show up on bootleg in the ensuing years.

45 years later Feast of Friends is receiving its first official release as a Blu-ray from Universal/Eagle Vision Entertainment. Doors fans will find quite a bit to interest them on this disc, though not necessarily in the main feature. A lot of the Feast of Friends footage has crept out in various forms through the years, and that version of "The End", which constitutes about a third of the film, can be seen in more meaningful context as part of the Live at the Bowl concert film. The extras on this disc, however, are an intriguing lot, with "Feast of Friends: Encore" consisting of 34 minutes of outtakes that provide a more satisfying glimpse of Morrison's talk with the minister and a fascinating peak at the recording of "Wild Child". If great live footage is what you want, check out The Doors Are Open, a British television documentary that attempts to link the band with some sort of political ideology (and fails since the guys in the group have nothing profound to say), but rips and roars with some really raw live renditions of "When the Music's Over" (a song I generally don't care for but kills here), "Five to One", "The Unknown Soldier", "Spanish Caravan", "Back Door Man", "Hello, I Love You" (with Ray Manzarek on lead vocals), and "Light My Fire" from London's Roundhouse. The songs are intercut with disturbing period footage of police brutality and pontificating politicians. Finally there's a live performance of "The End" recorded for Toronto television before The Doors really broke on through. It is tremendously riveting despite the band's self-censoring of the song's iconic Oedipal pantomime.

On the video front, Feast of Friends is the only feature that has really been subjected to a clean up. Significant blemishes are absent, but so is fine detail. The other pieces are fairly scratched up, but you won't care as much since they're so much more fun to watch.

Get The Doors: Feast of Friends on Amazon.com here:


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