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The Doors: Live at The Bowl ‘68 Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60 (29.970Hz)
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: None
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 22, 2012
  • List Price: $19.98

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:4/5]

The Doors were the proverbial brief candle on the rock ‘n roll scene, opening in 1965 and closing  in 1971 with lead singer Jim Morrison’s death (although drummer John Densmore, guitarist Robbie Krieger, and keyboardist Ray Manzarek continued to tour for two more years). This concert, The Doors: Live at the Bowl ’68, catches them at their professional peak and, more than forty years later, lets today’s viewers see what the fuss was all about.  Morrison, a member of the “27 Club,” (other members include Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and most recently Amy Winehouse), exhibited the early signs of the drug problems that contributed to his premature demise. It becomes obvious as the set goes on that Morrison was on something as his coordination and facial expressions change considerably. Legend has it that Jim dropped some acid prior to going on stage, so just be warned in advance. The playlist contains a list of Doors’ favorites and some not so well known numbers:

  • When the Music’s Over
  • Alabama Song
  • Backdoor Man
  • Hello I Love You
  • Moonlight Drive
  • A Little Game
  • The Hill Dwellers
  • Spanish Caravan
  • Light My Fire
  • The Unknown Soldier
  • The End

Tucked in between these numbers are some of Morrison’s on-stage rants and poems and plenty of audience response. For those too young to have seen or heard The Doors (named after Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception) in their day, this concert gives a good impression of what a live audience might have experienced.  Looking backward, this was a very progressive group for the times, quite a relief from the British invasion, and, no doubt, inspired numerous successors.

Video Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

Taken in perspective, this is far from a demonstration quality film with a somewhat blurry focus to most of the images, the close-ups of Morrison, excepted. It is also rather dark as it was shot at night on a stage that was conservatively lit. Camerawork is not very creative and although the lenses do move around the stage at times, there are frequent “home movie” effects that could have been eliminated with better cinematographers than those hired by The Doors.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Things get better here. The post-production audio engineers have managed to cook up a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that gives us good dynamics and crowd noises.  The 2.0 LPCM is decent, but not nearly as vital.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Eagle Rock gives us some nice bonus material:

  • “Echoes from The Bowl”: a fascinating 20-minute documentary on the Hollywood Bowl itself along with interviews from the surviving members of The Doors and sound engineer Bruce Botnick (who also wrote the booklet notes).
  • “You Had to Be There”: Reminiscences by The Doors on the event of the 1968 concert.
  • “Reworking The Doors”: a documentary on the concert, again featuring the original Doors, of course minus Jim Morrison.
  • Bonus Tracks: “Wild Child” (from the Smothers Brothers Show), “Light My Fire” (from the Jonathan Winters Show), and “Gloria” (music video)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The Doors left a number of audio recordings but Live at The Bowl ’68 is the sole extant professional film of an actual concert. In spite of my considerable reservations about the visual quality of this BD,  its sound re-recording does convey a good sense of the occasion. Those who value authenticity will get to see the frequently repeated scene of lead singer Morrison’s coming under the influence of pre-concert LSD. Make no mistake, in its day, The Doors was a very good band, and Morrison was a creative genius, albeit a flawed one. Eagle Rock Entertainment delivers an engaging film that lets newcomers experience the rush that was The Doors.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase The Doors: Live at the Bowl ’68 on Blu-ray  at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B0090O07RS[/amazon-product]

Purchase The Doors: Live at the Bowl ’68 on Blu-ray  at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]


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