The wall that never will crumble
How many times haven’t I heard the furious beating on the drums and the guitar riff that rips out my hearts and gives me goose bumps? Hundreds and hundreds. Could it even be a thousand? Probably.
Pink Floyd’s album The Wall has been a follower through my entire life. It wasn’t just a crush that I had in my moody teenage years as so many others. Halfway through my life I still carry it with me wherever I go. It’s never any further away than a light touch on my phone.
The same thing can’t be said about the movie Pink Floyd – The Wall. When the idea came to me to revisit it, it must have been at least 20 years since last time I watched it. I remembered it as outstanding, and as always in the case of beloved movies, this made me hesitate to revisit it. What if it turned out to be a withering monument that hadn’t stood the test of time? Did I want to risk this?
To see or not to see?
It took several months of hesitation before I made up my mind. To see or not to see was the question. It wasn’t just my dear memory that was at stake; it was also about my own ethical standard. I had found the film in full version on YouTube and I was debating with myself weather it was morally acceptable to watch it. On one hand I basically think you should pay for the movies you see one way or another if there is such an option. On the other hand – I excused myself – I had paid for the album, not just one but multiple times, most lately for the download to my phone. So wasn’t I entitled to see this one as a bonus feature?
Eventually I gave in to my curiosity and shushed down my conscience. I took the plunge into the film, letting myself be carried away back into my youth and into the visual stream of consciousness of Roger Water’s mind. And it was just as good as I remembered it, if not even better.
Like a kaleidoscope
In case you’re not familiar with The Wall, it’s the story about Pink, a seemingly successful rock star who carries a lot of luggage from his own life as well as his parents. Step by step he distances himself from the world, building a mental wall to take cover behind and eventually he breaks down completely. The narration is non-linear, mirroring the shattered nature of the human mind. It’s as if we’re looking at Pinks life and state of mind through a kaleidoscope that is shaken once in a while. The scenes switch between different settings: the war, the school and the rock stage, but we recognize the pieces and patterns.
What got me especially when I watched it this time around were the animation sequences, directed by Gerald Scarfe. Back in the days they had none of the technical luxuries that animators of today have, but that doesn’t matter. The sophistication and artfulness isn’t in the technique; it’s in the imagination. The interpretation of the music is perfect: what you see is as powerful, painful and provocative as what you hear.
The performance of Geldof
If there’s anything at all to remark on about the film, it would be the performance of Bob Geldof. Let’s put it this way: he’s better at charity work than at acting. It’s not terrible, but I think they could have done better. Fortunately he’s out of the screen most of the time and when he’s there, he’s mostly sitting in a chair staring with empty eyes into a TV screen. He barely talks at all, so the harm he does is very limited.
Many of the institutions of pop culture from my youth have fallen into oblivion or crumbled into dust. But not The Wall. It hasn’t crumbled under the strain of time; it hasn’t gotten as much as a scratch. It remains not just one of my favourite records, but also one of my favourite movies of all time.
Pink Floyd – The Wall (Alan Parker UK 1982) My rating: 5/5