2014’s most pleasantly surprising home video release is undoubtedly Eagle Vision’s release of Feast of Friends on DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday… The short documentary, shot in 1968 and produced by and about The Doors, is the quintessential cinematic documentation of the band at their peak of success… which was yet to have an official release… It doesn’t present the band as the pop stars that they were most likely regarded as at the time, but as the socio-political leftist poets that they likely regarded themselves.  It’s shot in the cinéma vérité style of the most profound documentaries of cinema history (Titicut Follies, Salesman, Grey Gardens) and proves to be as poignant as any “rock doc” ever made, truly deserving a spot sandwiched between Dont Look Back and Gimme Shelter… which shouldn’t really be that surprising, considering that The Doors were students of cinema… literally… The film juxtaposes scenes of the band onstage, embracing popular swoons, while also promoting a general chaos among the masses, with scenes of them waxing philosophical with a minister and popular journalists alike… In addition, the film captures The Doors at their most relaxed and least political, enjoying a swimming hole, or an impov acoustic session with a fan or two backstage… It’s the film that will prove to any radical youth revolutionary that the heroes of their parents’ record collection aren’t necessarily posers…

In addition to Feast of Friends, the release also includes Feast of Friends: Encore, an I Am Curious: Blue to the I Am Curious: Yellow that was the original film, boasting re-cut footage of those same poetically-telling moments captured in Feast of Friends.  Also included is The Doors Are Open, a British TV doc that pits live footage of the band’s appearance at London’s famous Roundhouse and interviews with the band members against newsreel footage of the culture that they were so chaotically critiquing.  And while this particular TV documentary isn’t from the band, themselves, it would seem to capture all of the gusto of their rebellion as well as (and more comprehensively than ) Feast of Friends, while actually resembling the beauty of highly confrontational cinematic works of the ‘60s, like Vilgot Sjoman’s I Am Curious films and William Klein’s Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?  Finally, the home video release features the band’s 1967 performance of “The End” on O’Keefe Centre Presents: The Rock Scene – Like it Is, in addition to the living band’s commentary on what is widely considered to be the band’s most potent live appearance.  Although I hesitate to tell anyone that they shouldn’t explore the brilliance of a band like The Doors extensively, this release pretty much gives you the Cliff’s Notes version, but also provides the perfect argument as to why you should be getting your own, personal copies of Waiting for the Sun and The Doors: In Concert as soon as your next electric bill is paid.