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Pink Floyd - The Wall

Pink Floyd - The Wall

I think it's impossible to adequately "review" this film without the context of the album; it is a distinct work and can be viewed by anyone, but its thematic ideas and construction are all based upon a similar framework, one that ends up making this film and the album it's based on so interesting. Therefore, to properly grasp my thoughts and opinions on this film, you will want to have some familiarity with the album.

The Wall is lightning in a cracked bottle, an undoubtedly flawed stroke of genius that ended Pink Floyd's 4 album long streak of making some of the best rock music ever. It is an hour and 20-minute long behemoth detailing the trials and tribulations of a troubled rock star named Pink. Based on the life of bassist Roger Waters (who wrote the vast majority of the album's material, and who came up with The Wall concept) and ill-fated former member Syd Barret, The Wall is not only a story of personal emotions such as alienation and loneliness, it also highlights societal issues like war and education. These two separate themes are woven together in a very non-linear fashion. Songs will reference not only past songs but future ones, and the various themes are often layered over each other simultaneously (The most brilliant of which being connecting an unstable relationship with Pink's father's death in WW2). At times this can make the album feel like a maze, and the constant flip-flopping of different ideas may be a turn-off for some. If you take the time to really dig into it all (for me this was taking notes on each song while listening, for the more astute it may just be listening more closely), however, you'll find something truly spectacular.

With that much out of the way, we can finally take a look at the movie. Pink Floyd - The Wall is a film written by Roger Waters, his first and only screenplay. Directed by Alan Parker, known for films such as Mississippi Burning (which I haven't seen), Pink Floyd - The Wall is kind of hard to describe. It certainly isn't a "normal" movie, being that it has almost no dialogue and is set to the pace of an album, but it still feels distinct enough to not just be a visual aid to the music. It can be enjoyed on its own and knows it's in a visual medium, highlighted by some excellent shots and its interspersed animated sequences by Gerald Scarfe. Even though it can be enjoyed on its own, what makes it great is remarkably similar to what makes the album great. Just like the album, the restriction of time is thrown away, and its non-linear chronology is used to great effect. You'll be lambasted with stark imagery and an unbridled brood and gloom that permeates throughout. Symbolism is thrown out practically every second, and the pace demands repeat viewings. Just like the album, the density here can be intimidating, and its chaotic layering is understandably a turn-off to some. However, if you take the time to wade through it all, what you'll find is worth every second.

Pink Floyd - The Wall is something truly special; it is an undeniably brilliant and beautifully flawed masterwork that is wholly unique and deserves to be experienced by all.