Below is the 1000 word review for submission.
The Wall (Film) by Pink Floyd – Review
by Mike Varney
Pink Floyd have had a versatile career in their time, but none could argue that their most significant achievement was their critically acclaimed and ground-breaking concept album ‘The Wall’, released in 1978. This album eventually went on to become a full film production following the track listing on the album. This was during a period where bands were starting to take themselves more seriously in the musical world, for instance bands such as The Who produced the films ‘Tommy’ in 1969 and the incredible ‘Quadrophenia’ in 1973, closely followed by other artists such as the late David Bowie and the band Genesis. Following these films came the ‘The Wall’ in 1982 produced by Alan Marshall with cinematography by Peter Biziou.
The film adaptation of ‘The Wall’ cannot be talked about in conversation or reviewed without first talking about the rock opera album, although recorded and composed by the band, the album was nearly entirely written by the bassist Roger Walters. Walters had based the story of the narrative and album on himself and former lead singer of the band Syd Barrett, thus the creation of the character and frontman ‘Pink’ was born. The story of the album and film follows Pink and the exploration into the themes of abandonment and isolation, these themes and feels create an emotional and metaphorical ‘wall’ around Pink with the world and those around him on the other side.
The story following Pink, and the eventual creation or brick building of the wall which stems from his younger years and then followed by his mature outgoings, then ending on a huge climax that hones a huge metaphor of the problems that these themes can create in society. The troubles from his schooling years, his father’s death in World War 2 by a tiger tank (based on Roger’s father), the relationship between pink and his mother and wife, all calumniates into a hallucination that Pink experiences whilst on from a drug given by his tour management. This hallucination embarks Pink onto a trip where he becomes a fascist dictator with his concert turning into a neo-Nazi rally with brown shirts on his fans that he believes are ‘unworthy’, this is all set stage by the track ‘The Show Must Go On’. The hallucination then ceases to exist in his mind, and he comes back to reality with his emotions taking way to the famous and my favourite scene involving ‘The Trial’. In this trial, Pink is riddled with guilt and is trapped within the metaphorical wall where he is then placed on trial with the inner judge within him ordering him to tear down the wall after his sentence. As the hallucination fades away, he pleads and begs for it all to ‘STOP’ and with the metaphorical wall being taken down, he is then taken back to the real world or ‘outside the wall’.
‘The Wall’ had a critical reception upon release with “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) peaking at number 1 on the UK Top 40 on the 23rd of November 1979, then the following year on the US billboard on the 7th of January 1980. The film also won Roger Walters a BAFTA award for best original song for “Another Brick in the Wall” and a 2nd BAFTA for Best sound. ‘The Wall’ also had incredible recognition from Roger Ebert describing ‘The Wall’ as “a stunning vision of self-destruction”, giving it two thumbs up and also describing the film as “one of the most horrifying musicals of all time…but the movie is effective”. It was also chosen to be the first viewing at Ebertfest in 2010 on the opening night.
The meaning behind ‘The Wall’ has always struck an emotional resonance within my being, through the songs, testimonials and lyrics from Roger Walters comes a sensitivity that can be quite rare in musicians. This sensitivity shows that Roger or ‘Pink’ is very self-aware of his past and his problems, the film addresses this fact quite clearly throughout especially in the trial sequence. From the lyrics of track ‘The Trial’ comes ‘The way you made them suffer, your exquisite wife and mother, feels me with the urge to defecate (go on judge shit on him)’ and the calm emotive lyrics from ‘Mother’ we can see that Pink or Roger is aware of his self-doubt and his troubled relationship with his mother along to the trial where it all comes full circle and he acknowledges his problems and his inner being judges himself to the point of forgiveness or rather a complete acknowledgement of his guilt. This admission of guilt is even more evident with the lyrics ‘The Evidence before the court is incontrovertible, there’s no need for jury to retire. Since my friend you have revealed your deepest fear. I sentence you to be exposed before all your peers. Tear down the wall!’ With ‘The Trial’ comes an incredibly emotive sequence involving incredible visuals and powerful vocals/musicianship which cannot be ignored in the musical world.
In conclusion I find this rock opera to be an extremely mature magnum opus from pink Floyd and Roger, an album that has stood the test of time especially when we are heading into an era of uncertainty and an emphasis on individuality is present. The messages and motifs behind the lyrics and visuals lay heavy physiologically and metaphorically and is a must watch for all creative individuals. This film could also serve as an intelligent but horrifying warning to those of us who may get lost behind our own metaphorical wall and the damages that we can do to ourselves and the people we hold dear to us. Like the creative arts course and my personal projects to do with journey, we all have a foundation but if we let the bricks of our past and troubles give momentum to the building blocks of our walls, will we let it destroy us or will we acknowledge our imperfections and try to recover from our inner demons? I believe that through our projects and the degree our own walls can come down and our real creative selves can truly shine through our work, for instance – for me personally, going out and filming in multiple locations is something I have never done before. As well as leading a workshop successfully, it has been a great experience in bringing down my wall and letting my confidence come through in a more appropriate manner.