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I make no secret of being a huge Pink Floyd fan. The Wall is one of my favourite of their albums and I vividly recalled several images from the film of the same name, from when I saw it in 1988. Last night, I decided to watch it again to see what I felt about it this time. Its not an entirely pleasant experience. You have been warned!
The Wall is a film starring Bob Geldof as Pink, the lead character. Using the Floyds album soundtrack as a background, we see how Pinks childhood is shaped by his mother and his absent father who was a soldier in WWII. He is yelled at by nasty teachers in school and spends his leisure time running round bomb sites with his mates.
As he gets older, we see his descent into insanity as he plays out a variety of roles from famous rock star (complete with eager groupies) to militant leader of something akin to the Nazis to a hospital patient who ends up meeting his childhood self. As he questions his self-worth, the famous trial sequence plays out, where characters from his past (his mother, teacher, etc.) criticize him in front of a court.
As you can see, its not an ordinary film and neither is it always easy to understand. The best thing is just to watch it and you will find out it does make a kind of sense! The actors themselves do not speak many words; the dialogue in the film predominantly comes from the wonderful lyrics from The Wall soundtrack. Roger Waters wrote most of these and they are sheer poetic brilliance. He was also heavily involved in the film and elements of Pinks character are based on himself.
Bob Geldof does an excellent job as Pink, displaying a great variety of emotion in his face and throwing himself into such a hard role both physically and mentally with wild abandon. His performance is absorbing but frightening. His mad staring eyes and deep frowning expression are used to great effect here.
There are some interesting cameos in the film. Bob Hoskins plays Pinks manager, James Hazeldine has a small role, Joanne Whalley (-Kilmer) and Gary Olsen (2 point 4 Children) have even smaller roles! Roger Waters is there somewhere as a wedding guest, but I havent spotted him yet.
There are large sections of animation in the film by Gerald Scarfe. As well as the impressive Trial sequence, the others are equally memorable. The war-based section of animation is filled with bloody images of war, death, skeletons and the like, but also has a very powerful anti-war message with its fields of crucifixes dripping blood. Pink Floyd are not afraid of making political statements!
Scarfes animation evokes a variety of emotional responses. One of the sequences is very sexual with flowers impregnating in a way which feels violent like rape. But some of the visual images are beautiful, my favourite being the leaf rolling over in the breeze, becoming a naked faceless body.
The visual images used in the film are vivid and often disturbing. As you would maybe expect from the themes mentioned already, we see plenty of sex, violence and gore. While the sex is minimal and unmemorable, the violence is often extreme from Pink smashing up his flat to the scenes of skinheads beating up a black man in the street.
You can argue this kind of thing isnt gratuitous, because the meanings behind it are anti-racist and anti-fascist, but they are still upsetting and unsettling to watch. In fact, I have never yet been able to watch this film through without hiding my eyes a few times! For me, I dont like the Christ-like images of Pink in the swimming pool when it turns to blood and I hate the scene of him shaving.
The worst section of the film for me though is ironically when my all-time favourite song is playing Comfortably Numb. The song itself works on many levels for me, but here it definitely pertains to the use of drugs and their reactions on your mind and body. As we see what Pink is really going through and what he feels he is experiencing (two different things), we see some of the most horrific images well, I dont see many, as I watch this peeking over my hands! But the ones I have caught have included Pink clutching at his face and pulling skin off himself. Really quite vile.
There are hundreds of child extras used in the film and some of the time, they wear strange masks which are crude and distort facial features in a weird way. I dont like these either, they give me a shiver down my back. But then Im sure many of us remember the video to their hit song Another Brick In The Wall, where the children are fed into the sausage machine? The film version is scarier.
So its not a film you enjoy as such, more one that you experience. My husband found it dull and depressing and left the room but hes not a Floyd fan anyway. Its certainly not something to sit your toddler and your Grandma in front of! But I do believe its worth seeing especially if youre a Floyd fan because it does help bring the songs to life and shows their meanings.
Although it might seem as though I have given quite a lot away in this review, the plot itself is minimal, the visualization is the key and the full experience of this can only be achieved through watching the film. It will not be a pleasant or easy experience though, but it does enlighten you. It will make you think about childhood and its psychological influences on your adult self. Also if you have ever suffered from mental illness (like I have with depression), you will find yourself relating to many of the things Pink goes through here. If you have ever taken LSD or hallucinogenic drugs (unlike me!), you will probably relate even more!
The film is rated a 15 in the UK, lasts 95 minutes and was made in 1982. It is directed by Alan Parker and won two BAFTA Awards. The DVD is available for £12.49 from Amazon.
I would recommend you watch it at least once, but only if you have a strong stomach! Essential viewing for Floyd fans, of course, but personally, I much prefer the CD.
Pink Floyd - The Wall --------------------- 1982 Directed by Alan Parker Cast: Bob Geldof as Pink Kevin McKeon as Young Pink (95 minutes, Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1) DVD Options: Welcome to the Movie -------------------- The film itself: Pink, whose father is killed at Anzio, becomes Rock Star, burns out, builds an insulating emotional wall, becomes a fascist dictator, is judged by himself and his peers. Well, back in '82 we knew the record by heart, Comfortably Numb, Run like Hell and Another Brick in the Wall were anthems. We knew several things, it wasn't about our generation it was about the first wave of baby boomers. We knew Pink's dad (and, therefore, Roger Waters' dad) was killed in World War II. We knew it ended with a fascist Rally/concert. We knew that once its hero was redeemed, the whole thing started again. We weren't, however, prepared for the movie. The Empire Leicester Square, late July 1982, "In the Flesh?" starts playing, we feel like the guy in the old Maxell Tape Adverts, pressed back in our seats by sound G-Forces - it was devastating. The joys of 6 track Dolby stereo. The documentary reveals the Floyd sound people went to various cinemas "improving the sound system". Thank You! That sound system was still there for "Blade Runner" a couple of months later. Afterwards, we staggered out shaken and definitely stirred. We couldn't think of anything to say. Nineteen Years on... This is an astonishing film. It's hard to think of any film with this much bleakness, angst, rage and pain in it. The animation from Gerald Scarfe's designs is the most arresting animation imagery I can recall seeing, like Disney's "Fantasia" inverted. This is not an emotional roller coaster, for there are no ups. So is it entertainment? No. It'
;s a damning look at the human psyche, a massive wallow in self pity. There's no one to like, no one to identify with. Anyone female is invariably monstrous: an over protective mother, cuckolding wife, thrill seeking groupies, taken to extremes in the flower animation where the copulating flowers, eventually reveal the female swallowing the male whole. Yet the villain of the piece is Pink. Ultimately Pink's Wall is torn down, but we aren't allowed to know what became of him. The final scene has a bunch of little tykes cleaning up the debris from the last skinhead/police confrontation, one picks up a Molotov cocktail, sniffs it suspiciously and tips the petrol out. This is the best we're allowed for a happy ending, someone is doing something constructive, but there's ambiguity here, the kid could end up just like Pink. Bob Geldof has acquired a lot more baggage since 1982. He acquits himself well as Pink a mixture of Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and a plethora of other rock personalities, but you can see his awkwardness in some scenes. I don't think his voice is "right" for these songs, but this could just could be my allegiance to Waters' vocals. Bob Hoskins and a pineapple easily steal the movie's acting honours. Joanne Whalley is in there somewhere as a groupie but is still a mystery to me as to where. Look fast for perennial Dalek operator John Scott Martin as a ballroom dancer. Set the Controls ---------------- System Set Up - Best Sound System Test I've seen on a DVD movie gives you the optimum placement for your speakers and tests them with, lol, "Pink" Noise (Almost worth the price of the disk alone). PCM Stereo Surround 5.1 Dolby Surround Your choice of the stunning sound reproduction of this film's soundtrack, remastered from the original tapes by James Guthrie. A Saucerful of Features --------------------
--- Documentary The Other Side - A promotional documentary filmed concurrently with the movie (25 minutes). Interviews with Roger Waters, Alan Parker, Gerald Scarfe, Bob Geldof, Kevin McKeon. snippets of Floyd in concert, filming the pool scene, Parker cheerfully debunks the auteur theory of film making, Gillian Gregory the choreographer at work turning a platoon of Essex and East London kids into a mob. Retro One - A contemporary look back at the film Part 1 (18 minutes) Retro Two - A contemporary look back at the film Part 2 (24 minutes) Interviews with Roger Waters, Gerald Scarfe, Alan Parker, Producer Alan Marshall, Cinematographer Peter Biziou. The documentaries are fascinating from the point of view that one soon sees that the three principal creators; Roger Waters, Gerald Scarfe and Alan Parker soon began to hate each other and the mutual desire to create the movie soon turned to loathing anything to do with it. Scarfe: "Are we going to talk about the relationship between the three of us?" Waters: "What relationship!?" Scarfe and Waters seem to have buried the hatchet, but Parker seems unforgiven by the other two and vice-versa. The thing is though I think they've all done the best that could be done with the project at the time. Waters notes that he wished the film could be more humorous...er, Rog, the album isn't exactly Billy Connolly is it? Waters does at least make up for this by being very funny on the audio commentary. It's interesting to note the number of things the interviewees claim they don't understand...and blame on Pink's mental disintegration... Oddly the individual who seems the most at ease with the film is Peter Biziou. Gerald Scarfe notes that people have told him that the film changed their lives, which he doesn't understand because he thinks of it as a j
ob. If the film changed us in any way, it was the unspoken acknowledgment never to become as Pink. Waters finishes with a snatch of poem which is rather good actually. And then makes the confession that hasn't a clue what the ending means. Commentary With Roger Waters and Gerald Scarfe A commentary, faintly tinged with disdain, as well as humour and Irish impersonations and rock 'n' roll anecdotes... Would have been nice to have a separate commentary with Alan Parker's take on the thing. Oddities Hey You - Deleted Scene/Song (We wondered where that one went...) Music Video - Music Video for Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 Promo - Trailer Stills - Movie Scenes + Behind the Scenes Photos Gallery - Gerald Scarfe's Artwork Any Title You Like ------------------ Subtitles Spanish - French - English (Region 1 DVD) Song Lyrics - pity they didn't use "follow the bouncing ball" Song Scenes - i.e. Scene access annoyingly not labeled...so... The things we do... here goes: 1 - MGM logo opening credits 2 - Anzio beachhead - cleaning the Webley 3 - Anzio/ USA concert (cleaning the Wembley?) (Song: In the Flesh? Bob Geldof) 4 - Bringing out the dead/Meanwhile back in blighty (Song: The Thin Ice - Pink Floyd) 5 - Little Pink (Song: Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1 - Pink Floyd) 6 - Young Pink goes exploring (Song: When the Tigers Broke Free - Pink Floyd) 7 - WW II Animation/Trains and Bullets (Song: Goodbye Blue Sky - Pink Floyd) 8 - Schooldays (Song: The Happiest Days Of Our Lives - Pink Floyd) 9 - The Meat Grinder (Song: Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 - Pink Floyd) 10 - Happy Families (Song: Mother - Pink Floyd (VERY different from the album version
)) 11 - Flower Animation (Song: Empty Spaces - Pink Floyd extended from album version) 12 - Groupies (Song: Young Lust - Pink Floyd) 13 - Hotel Madness (Song: One of My Turns - Pink Floyd) 14 - Hotel Damage (Song: Don't Leave Me Now - Pink Floyd) 15 - Smashing Time (Song: Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3 - Pink Floyd) 16 - Meet The Wall (Song: Goodbye Cruel World - Pink Floyd) 17 - Fondling the Wall (Song: Is There Anybody Out There? - Pink Floyd) 18 - Watching the Dambusters (Song: Nobody Home - Pink Floyd) 19 - Pink at Anzio/Train Station (Song: Vera - Pink Floyd) 20 - Disappointment (Song: Bring The Boys Back Home - Choir/Pink Floyd) 21 - Waking Up Pink (Song: Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd) 22 - Fascist Rally Time (Song: The Show Must Go On - Bob Geldof) 23 - Fascist's Amok Time (Song: Run Like Hell - Pink Floyd) 24 - Marching Hammers Animation (Song: Waiting For The Worms - Pink Floyd) 25 - (Song: Stop - Bob Geldof) 26 - The Trial Animation (Song: The Trial - Pink Floyd) 27 - Picking Up the Pieces - End Credits (Song: Outside the Wall - Pink Floyd) Scattered throughout the DVD menus are little icons, if you hit the "9" key on your remote, a sound bite is played! If the music does nothing for you, I can't imagine that the film would. If you like the music the film could turn you off. Pink Floyd - The Wall: hard to like, but impossible to ignore. Star Rating: The Film: Your call, I'll go for 5. The DVD: 5 perfect extras and quality.