PINK FLOYD THE WALL
The stageshow of The Wall was then followed by this film. Roger Waters wrote the screenplay. Direction was handed to Alan Parker, the versatile genre-hopping director of the likes of Midnight Express (1978), Birdy (1984), Mississippi Burning (1988), Angelas Ashes (1999) and two other works that fall within genre material, Bugsy Malone (1976), a 1930s gangster film that is all played out by kids, and the exquisite horror film Angel Heart (1987). Alan Parkers oeuvre always demonstrates a strong interest in music, he having made films as varied in their musical styles as Fame (1980), The Commitments (1991) and Evita (1996). Roger Waters was originally to have played the lead role but turned the part over to Bob Geldof, who was then best known as the lead singer of The Boomtown Rats and was still a couple of years off fame as the force behind Live Aid.
The film makes slight changes to the album. The track Hey You is replaced by the banal When the Tigers Break Free, but other than that the film is essentially a 95-minute rock video of the album. Like a music video, there is almost no dialogue and no narrative thread. The flow of the film constantly changes between past and present, the real, the surreal and Gerald Scarfes dark ever-changing Freudian animation. The nearest equivalent at the time was Ken Russells demented filming of The Whos rock opera Tommy (1975). Maybe you could call Pink Floyd The Wall a Tommy crossbred with Roman Polankis Repulsion (1965) and fed a strong dose of downers. Certainly, there are probably few artists in the world who have had the opportunity to work out their psyches on such a grandly operatic scale as Roger Waters what with multi-million selling self-analytic album, a stage show with 100 foot tall mother marionettes, a film version with a pounding surround-sound Dolby soundtrack, even a commemorative live stage show to celebrate the falling of the Berlin Wall.
In terms of the ire that Roger Waters vents, Pink Floyd The Wall is a singularly bleak and angry film and most certainly a narcissistic one, caught up as it is in Roger Waters singular obsessions about self, his overprotective mother, the English school system, feelings of suicide, madness and self-mutilation, and the links between fascism and rock music. (The latter was Waters commentary on the fans at rock concerts who seemed so mindless in their adoration he alikened them to goose-stepping fascisti. Such an attack on the crowds at rock concerts is diluted somewhat by the film one can imagine how potent a point it would have been in a live concert venue). A number of critics slammed Pink Floyd The Wall for its narcissism and uncompromising failure to reach any therapeutic breakthrough by the end. To ones view, that is its very advantage theres no written rule that a film should have to end on a pat, positively upbeat moral note. As such, Pink Floyd The Wall is a headfirst dive into the psyche of someone who has definitely left the dividing line of sanity a good way behind.
Even if one doesnt attune to Roger Waters psycho-dramatics, there is the sheer kick of the soundtrack blasting at one in Dolby stereo where Waterss black and cleverly funny lyrics and the Floyds masterful aural trickery hits one up front. This is a film that loses a great deal seen on video rather than in a theatrical setting. The film also develops out the animation originally designed by British political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe for the Another Brick in the Wall music video and elaborated out through the stage show. Here Pink Floyd The Wall is at its full flight of surreal fantasy Gerald Scarfes plays of constantly transmogrifying animated images are wonderfully clever, even if they almost reach a point of symbolic overkill doves dissolving into Nazi eagles, flying crosses and bleeding British flags, flowers cavorting in clear sexual symbolism and dissolving into threatening mother figures, and marching hammers and sickles.