When You're Strange is a 2009 documentary about the life of The Doors. It is written and directed by Tom DiCillo and for the first time makes material from Jim Morrison's 1969 film fragment HWY: An American Pastoral publicly available.
Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek has stated that "This will be the true story of the Doors," and that the film will be "the anti-Oliver Stone," referring to the 1991 film about the group that Stone directed, and which drew quite a bit of criticism from many Doors fans and Morrison intimates for certain departures from the truth in Stone's screenplay.
The documentary first screened at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2009. It received somewhat favorable reviews from that showing, however the narration (by director DiCillo) was singled out by most viewers as very seriously flawed for its monotonic delivery. Due to the rash of complaints about the narration, Johnny Depp was hired to redub it. A few months later, DiCillo pronounced the film "just about locked", and announced that there would be a showing of the new "redux" version. It debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Sunday, June 21, 2009. The completed film was also shown at the London Film Festival on October 16-18, 2009. The film was released in theaters on April 9, 2010, with a soundtrack release on April 6, 2010. It was released in Canada on April 15, 2010. PBS showed this film as part of its series American Masters on May 12, 2010. The film was released on DVD on June 29, 2010. In France the film, distributed by MK2, was released under its original title and received an excellent reception.
Robby Krieger believes that the film puts together a more accurate portrayal of Morrison than the 1991 biopic stating; ‘I think when you see the Oliver Stone movie – I'm amazed how good Val Kilmer did – but, you know, the problem with that movie is that the script was kind of stupid. It doesn't really capture how Jim was at all. This gives you a much better insight into how his mind worked, I think.’
Overall Krieger felt ‘really happy’ about how the film has turned out, crediting in particular the editing work. The surviving members of the band decided not to get too involved in the project to try to get the right neutral balance that an outsider would try to achieve."
The film has been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series following its airing on American Masters on PBS. In December of 2010 the film was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Video and subsequently won the award in February 2011.