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Pink Floyd: The Wall

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Pink Floyd: The Wall
Pink Floyd The Wall
Directed By Alan Parker
Produced By Alan Marshall
Starring Bob Geldof
Music By Pink Floyd
Cinematography Unknown
Editing By Unknown
Distributed By MGM/UA Entertainment Company (theatrical), Sony Music Video, (SMV) Enterprises
Release Date August 13, 1982
Running Time 95 min
Pink Floyd: The Wall is a 1982 MGM film by British director Alan Parker based on the 1979 Pink Floyd album The Wall. The screenplay was written by Pink Floyd vocalist and bassist Roger Waters. Though Waters initially considered himself for the lead role, the film ultimately starred Bob Geldof, whose character Pink was loosely based on the biographies of both Waters and former Pink Floyd vocalist and guitarist Syd Barrett, both of whom were founding members of the band. The film also stars Kevin McKeon as the young Pink, and includes brief appearances by Bob Hoskins and Joanne Whalley.

About The Movie

The film features music from the original Pink Floyd album, much of which was re-recorded by Roger Waters with different musicians and additional orchestration, some with minor lyrical and musical changes. Two songs not present on the album were included in the film, one of which ("When the Tigers Broke Free") was composed especially for the movie by Roger Waters, while the other ("What Shall We Do Now?") was originally recorded for the album but never released until the film version, although it had been performed in concert. The film is highly metaphorical and is rich in symbolic imagery and sound. It features virtually no dialogue and a non-linear storyline which is progressed entirely through Pink Floyd's lyrical music. Some consider it to be a long music video for the entire album. The only songs from the album not used in the film were "Hey You" (although material using the song was filmed and the raw footage was first made available on the DVD release as a deleted scene) and "The Show Must Go On."

The film is scattered throughout with fifteen minutes of elaborate animation sequences by the political cartoonist and illustrator Gerald Scarfe, who played a central role in developing the overall aesthetic of the production. The animation sequences include a bold and nightmarish vision of war, specifically of the German bombing campaign over England during World War II, set to the song "Goodbye Blue Sky".

Roger Waters has expressed dissatisfaction with the final product of the film, and is reported to have been philosophically at odds with director Alan Parker during filming, who himself walked out of the project on multiple occasions due to the conflict. In a 1988 interview on Australian radio, Waters said: "I was a bit disappointed with it in the end, because at the end of the day I felt no sympathy at all with the lead character... and I found it was so unremitting in its onslaught upon the senses, that... it didn't actually give me... as an audience, a chance to get involved with it." Despite Waters' dissatisfaction, the film is considered by many fans to be a worthy interpretation of Pink Floyd's album, and a powerful work of cinema in its own right.

David Gilmour stated that the making of the film was where the feud between him and Waters started. Gilmour also on the documentary Behind The Wall (which was aired on BBC TV and VH1 in the US) stated that "the movie was the less successful telling of The Wall story as opposed to the album and concert versions".

Plot Summary

Pink Floyd: The Wall depicts the construction and ultimate demolition of a metaphorical wall. Though the film is highly interpretable, the wall itself clearly reflects a sense of isolation and alienation.

Pink, the tragic hero (and unreliable narrator) of the film, is depicted at various stages of physical and mental development. We first meet Pink as a young British boy growing up in the early 1950's. Young Pink is heavily affected by the death of his father in World War II and as a result develops a close relationship with his smothering, overprotective mother. As the years go on, he becomes a successful rock star in the United States, but remains in a state of mental disarray and disillusionment. Pink married in the late '60s (as evidenced by the clothing worn by the wedding party), but over the years, he and his wife grow further and further apart, with Pink concentrating on his music and his wife becoming involved with an anti-nuclear arms group. She eventually has an affair with the leader of the group while Pink is on tour.


After the affair, Pink begins his complete and utter mental downfall. He shaves off all his body hair (As did Syd Barret when he was seen in the Wish You Were Here recordings), and sits inside the boundaries of the wall. Doctors are sent in and give Pink various painkillers and anti-depressants. The drugs cause Pink to hallucinate at his shows; he believes that he has become the leader of a violent, racist, hate group, bearing strong resemblances to modern Neo-Nazi gangs. His concerts have become rallies, with Pink hysterically pointing out minorities in the audience and encouraging his faithful to "put 'em up against The Wall." As his hallucinations become more and more frenzied and out-of-contol, his conscience finally rebels.

In the final sequence, Pink goes before a bizarre kangaroo court trial, shown entirely in animation. This stage in Pink's life is clearly a symbolic representation of his state of mind. Many people believe that the trial scene of the film bears a strong likeness to the climactic trial scene of Alice in Wonderland.

The judge (animated as a fat man who's head is a giant pair of buttocks wearing a British judge's wig and speaking out of the anus), having heard evidence from Pink's mother, schoolteacher, and wife, decrees that Pink should be "exposed before [his] peers" and orders him to "tear down The Wall!"

Documentary

A documentary was produced about the making of Pink Floyd The Wall entitled The Other Side of the Wall that includes interviews with Parker, Scarfe, and clips of Waters, originally aired on MTV in 1982. A second documentary about the film was produced in 1999 entitled Retrospective that includes interviews with Waters, Parker, Scarfe, and other members of the film's production team. Both are on The Wall DVD as extras.

Miscellanea

  • During the brief interval within "The Happiest Days of Our Lives", Pink's teacher takes the piece of paper from him and reads it aloud to embarrass him in front of the class - Pink's poem is a mix of the first and second verses of "Money" from The Dark Side of the Moon.
  • According to the DVD commentary, the reason Waters decided against playing Pink was due to his poor acting skills.
  • The film's original plot was going to comprise of footage of the band playing live at Earls Court in London with Gerald Scarfe's animation sprinkled throughout the film. Alan Parker later nixed the idea. Film footage of the Earls Court shows from 1980 and 1981 have surfaced on bootlegs and look presentable.
  • During the scenes in which Pink becomes a skinhead leader, real neo-Nazis were used as extras in rallies. Director Alan Parker lost his voice shouting "cut" on certain scenes; also, animator Gerald Scarfe felt things were getting out of hand when some turned up with his crossed-hammers symbol shaved into their heads. Today, the crossed hammers have been adopted as the logo of the racist group Hammerskins.
  • During the wedding scene between Pink and the wife, Roger Waters makes a cameo in the movie as one of the wedding witnesses (he is wearing a red overcoat) just after Pink kisses his wife, he is seen standing on the right side of the screen, and during the next scene while the photographer is taking a snapshot of them, he is seen on the far left. Despite his cameo in the movie, Waters chose to not have his name in the credits. Some versions of the film have Roger's cameo trimmed out of the scene.
  • During the scene where Pink finds his father's items during "When the Tigers Broke Free", Pink finds a certificate of appreciation that lists his father's name as J.A. Pinkerton. This can be taken to indicate that Pink's real name is Floyd Pinkerton. But, during the scene where Pink is trying to reach his wife on the phone, you can hear, "... call to Mrs Floyd from Mr Floyd ..." Pink Floyd is probably the character's stage name, therefore.
  • During the scene in which Pink is sitting in the bathroom stall reading his poetry book, just before he begins the lyrics to "Stop", he recites: "Do you remember me? How we used to be? Do you think we should be closer?", which are lyrics from "Your Possible Pasts", the second track of The Final Cut, released one year after the movie. After a brief pause, Pink then begins to recite: "And I reached out my hand, just to touch your soft hair; to make sure in the darkness, that you were still there; and I have to admit, I just was a little afraid..." These are lyrics from "5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)", the last track on Waters's The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, released two years after the movie.
  • There is a subliminal image in the bloody pool scene: the soldier's face is momentarily replaced with the screaming-face artwork from Scarfe's poster for the film.
  • The music video for Muse's Hysteria is based on the hotel-trashing scene.

The war movie that Pink watches on the hotel room's television is the classic WWII film "The Dam Busters" (1954).

  • When first asked if he would play the role of Pink, Geldof refused, saying, "I've been asked to do this Pink Floyd bloody wall thing, what a load of crap and raw bloody rubbish" What he didn't know is that the man driving the car he was in was actually Waters' brother John.
  • This is one of the few movies with the Los Angeles Police Department AMC Matador police car.

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